|For Immediate Release
March 16, 2011
Contact: Kim Smith Hicks, 202-225-3951
Chairman Smith: Director Mueller began his tenure as FBI Director only days before the September 11th terrorist attacks. Since then, he has led the Bureau through an ever-changing threat environment requiring a historic transformation of the agency.
Under his leadership, the FBI has successfully thwarted numerous terrorist plots, including plots to bomb New York’s subway system, to destroy skyscrapers in Texas and Illinois, and to kill dozens of innocent Americans at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon last December.
Terrorists remain intent on carrying out their plots to destroy America. Just last month, a 20-year-old student from Saudi Arabia was arrested in my home state of Texas for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.
The terrorist threat may have changed, but it has not diminished. Our counter-terrorism laws must keep pace with the evolving threats.
It is imperative that Congress reauthorize the expiring provisions of the PATRIOT Act. Section 206 roving authority, Section 215 business records, and the lone wolf definition are critical to apprehending terrorists before they strike.
Unfortunately, the myths surrounding the PATRIOT Act often overshadow the truth. As Congress considers the reauthorization of these provisions, we must set aside fiction and focus on the facts.
These are key investigative tools for the FBI. For example, we know that Section 215 business records authority was used to thwart last month’s plot in Texas.
In the last decade, dramatic advances in technology have provided Americans with a wide variety of communication and research devices. But these new technologies have also enabled terrorists, spies and criminals to operate with greater anonymity and less chance of detection.
As a result, our law enforcement agencies may increasingly find themselves in the dark. Simply put, the technical capacity of law enforcement agencies needs to keep pace with new technologies.
Congress initially addressed this growing gap in 1994 when it passed legislation enabling law enforcement agents to conduct court-approved electronic surveillance.
Since then, technology has continued to progress, and we have new communication devices, new services, and new modes of communication. Yet, federal law has not kept pace and does not address the contemporary challenge that law enforcement agencies face when attempting to intercept electronic communications.
“Going Dark” is not about expanding the legal authority to conduct surveillance. It’s about the inability to collect information that a judge has authorized.
Congress must develop a solution that balances privacy interests, ensures continued innovation, and secures networks from unauthorized interceptions.
Technology also has facilitated a dramatic increase in the proliferation and exchange of child pornography. Child pornography was almost eradicated in America by the 1980s. Unfortunately, the Internet has reversed this accomplishment.
Today, pedophiles can purchase, view, or exchange this disturbing material with near impunity. In the last 12 years, electronic service providers have reported almost eight million images and videos of sexually exploited children. Child pornography on the Internet may be our fastest growing crime, increasing an average of 150% a year. That must stop.
Better data retention will assist law enforcement officers with the investigation of child pornography and other Internet-based crimes.
When investigators develop leads that might save a child or apprehend a pornographer, their efforts should not be frustrated because vital records were destroyed. Every piece of discarded information could be the footprint of a child predator.
I look forward to hearing from Director Mueller on these and other issues of importance to the FBI and the country.