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Panel Finds FBI Made Strides After 9/11, But Must Speed Reforms

The FBI headquarters in Washington. An independent review says the bureau has made strides since 9/11, but "needs to accelerate its implementation of reforms."
Pablo Martinez Monsivais AP
The FBI headquarters in Washington. An independent review says the bureau has made strides since 9/11, but "needs to accelerate its implementation of reforms."

An independent, external review of how the FBI implemented the recommendations made in the 9/11 Commission Report, concludes the bureau "has made strides in the past decade but needs to accelerate its implementation of reforms to complete its transformation into a threat-based, intelligence-driven organization."

The 9/11 Review Commission, created last year by congressional mandate, was headed by Bruce Hoffman, director of the Center for Security Studies and Director of the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University; Edwin Meese, a former Reagan administration official; and Timothy Roemer, a former Democratic congressman who served on the 9/11 Commission.

It found that while the FBI has continued to investigate the 9/11 attacks, "there is no new evidence to date that would change the 9/11 Commission's findings regarding responsibility for" those attacks.

"Contrary to media reports, the FBI did not have a source in the 1990's with direct access to [Osama bin Laden] nor was there credible evidence linking the Sarasota, Florida, family to the 9/11 hijackers," the Review Commission said.

Also among its 12 findings:

-- While the FBI made measurable progress in building a threat-based, intelligence driven-national security organization, the changing nature of the threats to the U.S. challenged the bureau's "change-resistant culture."

"The FBI needs to accelerate the pace of its reforms and transformation of its culture to counter these dynamic threats and fulfill its expanding global mission as a fully integrated, intelligence-driven investigative organization under visional leadership and enabled by state-of-the-at technology," the Review Commission said in a recommendation.

-- The FBI's leadership "is not unified or consistent in driving cultural change," and its "frequent turnover of leadership seriously hampers the pace of reform."

-- The bureau is not sufficiently integrated into the rest of the U.S. intelligence community.

-- Overall, information sharing between the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners was good, but there is room for improvement, especially with local law enforcement and the private sector.

-- Comey has made cyber security a top priority, but "[t]here will be significant challenges for the FBI in implementing this strategy, especially in improving technology procurement practices, hiring expert personnel in a timely manner, and coordinating across government. The Review Commission gave the FBI "high marks for its coordination and collaboration on cyber with other agencies, especially the National Security Agency."

-- The FBI can fix some of the strategic problems it has, but "others will require the involvement of DOJ, DNI, and Congress."

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