- The Washington Times - Monday, June 3, 2002

An FBI decision to divert 400 agents assigned to narcotics investigations to counterterrorism offers new challenges for the Drug Enforcement Administration that DEA chief Asa Hutchinson says the agency is willing and able to undertake.
"Our nation needs the full attention, expertise and focus of the FBI on preventing terrorism against United States citizens. This is the right priority for the FBI," Mr. Hutchinson said.
"The DEA stands ready to accept this new challenge that comes from the FBI reorganization. We know how to fight drugs, do it very well, and are recognized worldwide for our expertise and results. This is a new opportunity for the courageous men and women of the DEA to do even more for our country," he said.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III announced last week a massive FBI reorganization designed to make the prevention of terrorist attacks the bureau's top priority. As part of the reorganization, Mr. Mueller will reassign 400 agents from drug investigations to counterterrorism operations.
"We have to be able to develop the ability to anticipate attacks," Mr. Mueller said, noting that more than a quarter of the FBI's 11,600 agents will be assigned to prevent terrorist attacks on the United States.
The FBI reorganization includes a new Office of Intelligence headed by an executive detailed from the CIA, who started work last week. It also includes a terrorism prevention and counterintelligence branch to be headed by an FBI deputy assistant director.
Mr. Hutchinson, a former federal prosecutor and Republican congressman from Arkansas, noted it may be necessary for the DEA to work with the Justice Department, Congress and the Bush administration on getting additional resources, but he remains assured the agency will have "all the necessary tools to continue doing our job well."
The DEA, the only single-mission anti-drug agency in the country, has 9,000 agents, intelligence analysts, chemists and support staff. The DEA's 4,600 drug agents are stationed around the United States and in more than 56 nations.
The DEA mission is to enforce the controlled-substances laws and regulations of the United States and bring to justice those organizations and drug traffickers involved in the growing, manufacture or distribution of controlled substances appearing in or destined for illicit traffic in this country.
The DEA also manages a national drug-intelligence program in cooperation with federal, state, local and foreign officials, and is responsible for the seizure and forfeiture of assets derived from illicit drug trafficking.
In addition, the agency coordinates foreign governments and federal, state and local law-enforcement officials on mutual drug-enforcement efforts including programs designed to reduce the availability of illicit drugs in this country through crop eradication, crop substitution and training of foreign officials.

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