Former FBI official-NBC News analyst speaks out against ‘bashing bureau’

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NBC News national security contributor Frank Figuluzzi spent 25 years at the FBI, ending his career as the agency’s top counter intelligence officer. The way he hunted terrorists helped corrupt local officials and appointed his fellow agents as the chief inspectors of the bureau.

His new book, “The FBI Way: Inside the Bureau of Excellence,” argues that the FBI has been successful because it in itself imposes a strict code of conduct. Here is a condensed version of the Q&A with NBC National Security and Intelligence correspondent Ken Dilanian.

Ken dillanian

Frank, why did you become an FBI agent? And why did you spend so long inside the bureau?

Frank Fijiuzi

It came back when I started it at the age of 11. And the best I can explain is that I live in southern Connecticut, we were in the New York media market. And I kept watching the FBI, reading the newspapers, watching the news on television, the FBI organized the dacoits and organized the crime families. And, I thought it was very good. These people are using their brains to reduce threats to criminals and society. And yes, I was watching TV shows where, you know, the FBI solved everything in an hour, including advertisements. And so I wrote a letter to the FBI Special Agent in Connecticut at the age of 11, saying, Hey, I’m an 11-year-old kid, and I want to be an FBI agent. And lo and behold, he wrote me back. Now, I think on a deeper level, I was raised with a sense of right and wrong, a feeling that is justice, which should be. I think there are forces in the world that are not good and need to be defeated. And I think everybody has contributed to it.

“FBI Way,” by Frank Figlujusi.Harper

DILANIAN

Let’s talk about the way the FBI works. What is the FBI code and why do you think it works most of the time?

FIGLIUZZI

Yes, I know, it does. In fact, I would say that the FBI has a track record of success, leadership that is based on values, called value-based performance, value-based leadership. The bureau’s track record exceeds 100 corporations at most. And this is the subject of the book. I have taken 25 years of comments and am absorbing from the inside how the FBI operates under extreme stress, when the stakes are highest and corrected. most of the time. I have distilled seven C’s call. The book is called “The FBI Way”, because I think we each have something to give. When it is under severe stress, you do not have to spend 25 years inside the FBI to shine some leadership lessons to keep your values, your family, your business, your country safe. And we are under severe stress. “

DILANIAN

Let’s talk about the last four years. Anyone who is watching you regularly knows that you believe that the last four years have been incredibly difficult for the FBI. Is there any sense in which the FBI has lost its way during the Trump era?

FIGLIUZZI

So one thing that inspired me to get this book out, I saw what I call Bureau Bushing, is getting out of control. Now, the FBI leadership is not without blame here. And I address it in the book, Jim Comey and his decision to call a press conference and say, bid, no proper prosecutor would ever bring a case against Hillary Clinton. At that moment, he politicized the FBI. He did not want to, that was not his intention. He is a man of high integrity, but he forgot two things. One, the FBI is not a prosecution agency across the street at the Department of Justice. Number two, he is accountable to a boss called the Attorney General of the United States, who was required to make that decision. And that political politicization of the bureau reduced the FBI’s influence in public view. Because I know that when you take out your credentials and ask a member of the public for help, support a terrorist in a kidnapping, whatever it is, if they pause for a minute, because those organizations If we can’t trust the organization, then we all suffer from a national security standpoint. And as we speak, the FBI is knocking on doors across the US to stop the next act of domestic terrorism. And we don’t even have citizens for a moment to think whether these people can be trusted.

DILANIAN

And on January 6, we talk about the horrific rebellion, which is a rebellion in the Capitol. Many consider it an act of domestic terrorism. And I wonder if you think in any way, it was an FBI intelligence failure?

FIGLIUZZI

right. So, I am publicly saying that it was not so much an intelligence failure as it was a failure to act on available intelligence. For me the phrase intelligence failure means that you did not see it coming. This is a situation where we have all seen it coming. … NBC News has reported that the FBI shared concerns about violence with the Capitol Police with the Joint Terrorism Task Force in the Capital Region. The NYPD intelligence unit shared its concerns about the violence with the Capitol Police. And now we come to know that the Capitol Police had an internal memo stating that bad things can happen here. So not an intelligence failure for me, but a failure to take action on Intel and a security failure.

Most people do not understand that there is no law against domestic terrorism. There is no investigative device as in international terrorism. So the ability to stop it is another thing. And I’ve heard people say, why didn’t the FBI open the building? And you know, despite the currency of the Capitol Police, the FBI is not in the building protection business. They are not security guards. They are not the officers responsible for that building, but they are responsible for the protection of democracy and national security. And so we need some answers.

DILANIAN

This is a real spotlight moment for how the FBI handles or does not handle intelligence on domestic extremism, domestic terrorism. They are clearly gathering a lot of intelligence right now, right, with the authorities that they have. Obviously you believe that this is a question of law and authority, but is it also a question of will and resources? All of the above?

FIGLIUZZI

I think it is very true, that without investigative tools to come out and monitor in front of us, chatting among hundreds of people and millions of people in posts, who cannot use their real names, And probably can’t, just doesn’t happen, nor are there legitimate officials to do so. This is a problem. Lawyers are coming and telling us precisely that the FBI or DOJ Hey, here are concerns about civil liberties and free speech. Are you talking about monitoring someone because they are aspiring. They, they wish Trump was dead, they wish Biden was dead, they, they, they would do something if they could… vs. who are actually executing and planning. It is a monumental work.

DILANIAN

An interesting example of how you consider accountability devoid of politics is your view of Peter Strzok, one of the top counter-investigative investigators in the FBI, who launched the Russia investigation and left many political because of his actions Become a hero for the people. But was fired because of his conduct. And you say that the firing was justified. Explain

FIGLIUZZI

Oh yes. As soon as evidence came out about Pete Strawsak, who was just for those who may not know the name, his name is tragically known because of the role he played in the public perception of the bureau. Look at the talented counterclaim officers, he was the number two man in the counterclaim division at the time, leading a counterintelligence Russia case that eventually turned into a special counsel investigation. And of course, we now know that there was evidence that he had a highly partisan exchange, email and / or text with an FBI attorney, Lisa Page. It was an extramarital affair for the two of them, but far more important to the bureau, it was an executive in charge of an investigation, talking about probation and possible topics of investigation in a partisan, highly political manner. I knew immediately that he would have to end. I said that on MSNBC, and I became infamous on social media: ‘Hey, Frank, you can’t say that because, you know, he’s one of the good guys … it’s going to fit into that Trump narrative , That somehow he is evil. It was not politics for me. For me, it was a senior executive near us who broke the code. We had a senior executive who embarrassed the bureau. The FBI can be seen as a political entity – due to the disdain and cardinal sin against the bureau. He should have been fired, he would have been fired … and imagine if he hadn’t: the FBI would never be able to discipline a low-ranking employee for similar comments during an investigation.

DILANIAN

right. And speaking of countermeasures, you retired after serving as an assistant director for countermeasures, which some call America’s top spy hunter. We are living in a time of retaliatory danger, it seems to me, anything in the Cold War is scary, post 9/11. There is not a Chinese economic espionage case outside the Justice Department, where a week does not go by; We had just one huge hack of the US government by Russian intelligence. Now let’s talk about the counter-protest picture, how dangerous is it? How should the government of the United States shore up its system and its people?

FIGLIUZZI

It should do a lot. I talk about this in the last chapters of my book because in a chapter called Consistency, I don’t want people to think that consistency means how to harden you to do something. And what we are discussing right now means the ability to constantly understand your mission and then the axis of how you do that mission. So for the FBI after 9/11, it was a wake-up call, right? The FBI was telling you what happened after this happened. I mean, we can tell you that Mohammed Atta, the 9/11 chief hijacker, ordered a slurpee with his credit card on 7-11. We are great at that. But we had to become an intelligence agency that could predict and prevent the next act of terrorism. So something like that has to happen now.

… One of the areas is cyber crime and its hybrid nature; The new battlefield is cyber. China and Russia have decided that they cannot bring us to the top militarily right now. They are going to do something in which the Chinese are winning the battle without fighting. Winning without fighting is cyber. And they are really good, as are Russia, Iran and North Korea. So at the FBI, we have a very clear view of this. The FBI has a cyber division, they have a counter intel division, they have an anti-terrorism division, they have a criminal division. well that is good. But opponents cannot care which division it falls into or not. So now the reality is that you cannot tell the difference between combating a cyber attack. Is this the Russian intelligence service or is it a group of hackers, right? Is it a terrorist organization or is Hezbollah attacking us through cyber? It all comes together. And therefore a more holistic approach is necessary. And it may be necessary to reproduce priorities.

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