Commission warns of problem if terror role of FBI expanded

Associated Press
Dec. 17, 2002

WASHINGTON - The FBI could be perceived as "a kind of secret police" if allowed to continue carrying out traditional law enforcement duties while also gathering terrorism intelligence, a federal commission said in a report issued Monday.

The panel suggested creating a new agency to conduct surveillance and gather intelligence. The National Counter Terrorism Center would include analysts now working for the CIA, FBI and other agencies.

"It is . . . important to separate the intelligence collection function from the law enforcement function to avoid the impression that the U.S. is establishing a kind of 'secret police,' " said the commission, comprised of federal, state and local officials and chaired by former Virginia Gov. James Gilmore.

FBI Director Robert Mueller said in an interview last week that he opposes creating a new intelligence agency to focus on terrorism. He said the FBI was "uniquely positioned" to do the job because it could both detect the threat and arrest any individuals involved.

"There has to be a mechanism for deterring those individuals," Mueller said.

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