April 29th, 2007 06:13 EST
The FBI at Harvard
What better place to discuss the issues of the day than at the nation`s oldest institution of higher learning.
This week, Director Robert Mueller and three of our other high-level Bureau execs traveled to Harvard to participate in a series of far-ranging discussions with students and faculty on the FBI and its evolving role in the post-9/11 world.
The venues were two-fold:
1) A Thursday evening speech by Director Mueller at the University`s John F. Kennedy School of Government, followed by an often pointed question-and-answer session with students and faculty. His full remarks "which touched on the balance between liberty and security, on national security letters, and on the MI-5 debate "are posted on this website.
2) A series of discussions on the FBI since 9/11 followed on Friday at the Harvard Business School. The Director joined Associate Deputy Director Joe Ford, Associate Executive Assistant Director Phil Mudd of our National Security Branch, and Deputy Assistant Director Sal Hernandez of our Cyber Division as 900 first-year business students discussed two FBI case studies in their Strategy Class. Each exec participated in one of the sessions, listening to the debate and sharing their perspectives at the end of class.
The Harvard Business School Case Study was the project of Professors Jan Rivkin and Michael Roberto. The project began more than a year ago, and the professors had wide access to the FBI and our management team for the study.
For his part, the Director spent a very interesting and spirited hour with the students talking about the business process of ramping up the rapid changes immediately post-9/11 to shift our focus to intelligence and to the prevention of terrorist attacks. He then joined them in discussing the more gradual evolution of that process over the past five-and-a-half years.
The students were then challenged to put themselves in the place of the Director or the President and game out how they would lead the FBI forward. The discussion touched on how to manage priorities, focus resources, clarify and streamline chain-of-command, and more. They also talked about whether the FBI is best suited for the domestic intelligence role or whether a stand-alone agency like MI-5 would be more effective.
Director Mueller explained the FBI`s history in intelligence gathering as well as the crossover between criminal activity and terrorist fundraising. He spoke of the long established and critical relationships developed over 99 years with 18,000 local law enforcement agencies "relationships that would be hard to replicate quickly for a new agency. The students asked detailed and well-informed questions and had a diversity of positions and opinions. They gave the Director a standing ovation at the end of the class. The Director also addressed a larger group of students of the Harvard Business School on transformation and management.
The discussion continues. For the FBI "and the students, we believe "it was all time well spent. As the Director pointed out in his speech, it`s important that the Bureau continue to talk about these issues and remain transparent and accountable to the nation. "We welcome this scrutiny, painful though it sometimes is, because we understand that our ability to protect the American people depends in large part on the people`s ability to trust the FBI," he said. "We are servants of the people and guardians of the Constitution."