Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI

Bureau: The Secret History of the FBI

by Ronald Kessler


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The most important thing on every American's mind today is homeland security. With the FBI at the center of the war on terrorism, no institution is as important to American society -- or as controversial. Yet no book has presented the full history of the FBI. Until now. Based on exclusive interviews -- including the first with current FBI director Robert Mueller -- The Bureau reveals: - What the FBI knew prior to the September 11 attacks - How the FBI has historically pursued terrorists and how that has changed since September 11th - What the new director is doing about terrorism today, as compared to his predecessors The Bureau uncovers: - The true story behind the fiascoes and embarrassments under previous director Louis Freeh: the Richard Jewell case, the Robert Hanssen spy story, the FBI lab problems, and more - The J. Edgar Hoover cross-dressing rumors About the Author: Ronald Kessler is a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporter and the recipient of sixteen journalism awards. He is also the author of twelve books, including the bestselling The FBI and Inside the CIA. He lives in Potomac, Maryland.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250093295
Publisher: St. Martins Press-3PL
Publication date: 07/01/2003
Pages: 598
Sales rank: 464,904
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.99(h) x 1.33(d)

About the Author

Ronald Kessler is the New York Times bestselling author of twelve works of non-fiction, including The Sins of the Father, Inside the CIA, Inside Congress, The Season, and Inside the White House. A former Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post investigative reporter, Kessler has won sixteen journalism awards, including two George Polk awards and the Associated Press' Sevellon Brown Memorial Award. He lives with his wife, Pamela, in Potomac, Maryland.

Read an Excerpt


When Barry Mawn headed the Boston Field Office, the copilot of EgyptAir Flight 990 purposely plunged his Boeing 767-300 into the Atlantic off Nantucket. When Mawn headed the Newark Field Office, the Unabomer struck in New Jersey, killing public relations executive Thomas Mosser. Federal Bureau of Investigation agents joked that they did not want Mawn, an affable Irishman from Boston, to come to their office. He brought trouble.

Now, as the fifty-six-year-old Mawn was going through his in box at the New York Field Office just before 8:45 A.M. on September 11, 2001, he heard an airplane flying lower than it should have. As the assistant FBI director in charge of the office of 1,100 agents, Mawn had a corner suite on the twenty-eighth floor of the Jacob Javits Federal Building at 26 Federal Plaza. From his north window, he could see the Manhattan skyline. From his west window, he could see part of the World Trade Center.

Just then, Mawn heard an explosion. Kathy MacGowan, his secretary, screamed.

"The World Trade! The World Trade!" she shouted.

Mawn ran to her window, which had a full view of the 110-story Twin Towers. Black smoke was billowing from the North Tower. MacGowan said a commercial jet had crashed into it. Mawn thought it was an accident.

"Call my Evidence Response Team," Mawn told her. "Just in case, call the SWAT and the Joint Terrorism Task Force. Send them to Church and Vesey. I'll head in that direction."'

Mawn removed his .40-caliber Glock from his oak desk, the one J. Edgar Hoover once used in New York, and stuffed the pistol in his holster. Behind the desk on the wall was an artist's sketch of Mawn and others at a hearing in federal court in Newark on charges against Unabomer Theodore J. Kaczynski.

As Mawn was about to leave, David N. Kelley called. He was the chief of the U.S. attorney's Terrorism Unit. Mawn agreed to meet him outside the building. Together, they hustled the eight blocks to Vesey and Church streets, at the northeast corner of the World Trade Center. As they got closer, Mawn saw people hanging out of the highest windows. One person jumped.

Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and other police officials were already there. Like Mawn, they thought the crash was a ghastly accident.

"As we were standing there, we saw another plane come in from the north and turn around," Mawn said. "We lost sight of it for a minute, but the next thing, it hit the South Tower. We were stunned. Everyone instantly recognized it's not an accident. We're under attack."

With both towers in flames, dozens of people were jumping from a hundred stories up. Huge slabs of concrete and hunks of burning metal started raining down. Mawn learned later that an eight-hundred-pound wheel assembly from one of the planes landed three blocks north of where he was.

Everyone started running for their lives. Mawn wedged himself into the space behind the cab of an ambulance van. When the rain of debris began to diminish, he headed back to the corner, where he saw Kelley and the police officials. By now, hundreds of FBI agents had converged on the area. Mawn told agents to set up a command post.

After several tries, Mawn got through on his cell phone to Robert S. Mueller III, the new FBI director. Mawn told him that the phones were down and they needed Air Force jets. A week earlier, Mueller, a prosecutor and former Marine, had taken over from Louis J. Freeh. Under Freeh, the FBI had lurched from one debacle to another, its credibility and morale shattered. Now the bureau faced the greatest challenge in its ninety-three-year history: tracking down those responsible for the worst attack ever on America and making sure another attack did not occur.

After the White House, Congress, and the Supreme Court, no institution was as powerful as the FBI. No institution was as important in preserving American freedoms. But from the beginning, the bureau had engaged in abuses, trampling on individual rights. From DNA analysis to profiling, from confirmation of Supreme Court justices to investigations of plane crashes, Mafia figures, corporate frauds, and spies, the FBI would become involved in almost every aspect of American life. Yet the question remained whether having what amounted to a national police force was consistent with a free society. And now the question was whether the agency could be trusted with the unprecedented task before it.

Mawn's mind flashed back to the 1993 hit on the World Trade Center, when six people were killed. He remembered when the FBI foiled an attempt to blow up the Holland and Lincoln tunnels, the United Nations, and the FBI's New York Field Office. Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda were behind the terrorist plot and, as it later turned out, had connections through Al Kifah Refugee Center in Brooklyn to some of those convicted in the 1993 attack. Now bin Laden had succeeded beyond his wildest expectations.

As Mawn and Kelley began walking west on Vesey, Mawn looked down and saw a female leg on the street. It was severed at the knee, a pink sock and white sneaker still on it.

"Jesus," Mawn whispered.

Mawn heard a rumble. He and Kelley were standing outside 7 World Trade Center, a smaller building in the shadow of the Twin Towers. Edmund Hartnett, the police department's chief of intelligence, had just joined them. The deafening, earthshaking roar was the South Tower imploding, coming down all around them, along with more people, some holding hands on their way down.

"I knew I couldn't outrun it," Mawn said. "I have a herniated disk. A couple of firemen ran by me. I figured they'd know what to do, and I ran with them. Hartnett and I ran into the lobby and ducked behind a huge column."

A firefighter inside 7 World Trade Center told them, "Hold on to one another with one hand. Don't let go no matter what! With your other hand, try to cover your nose and mouth."

Even though they were inside the building, a tidal wave of dust, ash, and debris smashed through the windows and engulfed them. Chunks of glass, steel, and concrete were falling all around. It sounded like a freight train whooshing past, and everything seemed to be moving at the velocity of bullets. Then a black cloud, as dense as toner, descended on them.

"It was like getting caught in a wave when you were a little kid," Mawn said. "You just get tossed around, and you can't come up for air. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. It passed through my mind that I might die there. I was having difficulty breathing." Kelley was nowhere to be seen.

When the roar subsided, it was pitch black. Someone opened a door at the side of the lobby.

"Anybody out there?" the man asked.

Spitting out dust, Mawn yelled back.

"Come here," the man said. He had a camera and began setting off the flash to guide them. Holding on to each other, Mawn and Hartnett followed the light out the building, which collapsed later that day. They walked north on Greenwich Street. After two or three blocks, they saw daylight and happened to run into Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Police Commissioner Kerik, who had been unable to enter a new $13 million command center at the building Mawn had just left. As CNN zoomed in, Mawn walked with them. Mawn, to the right of Giuliani in the shot, is six feet tall and looks like a trim Daniel Patrick Moynihan. He was covered with gray dust.

Mawn got through on his cell phone to his wife, Carol. They had been married just four years. From this and a previous marriage, Mawn had six children and stepchildren, all grown. Mawn told Carol he was okay. He asked her to put together a change of clothes; an agent would pick them up. Until he called, Carol, who had watched the attacks on TV, was frantic. She knew, without a doubt, that her husband would be at the scene.

Mawn called Mary Jo White, the U.S. attorney. "Mary Jo, it's Barry," Mawn said. "I think we may have lost Dave Kelley. I was with him, and we got separated. I think he's dead."

"Thank God you called!" she said. "I have Dave on the other line. He just told me he thought you had died." It was, she said later, the best phone call she had ever had.

Mawn was almost one of the 3,024 victims. He had a personal stake in getting even.

When Mawn returned to the office, he learned that a third plane had hit the Pentagon and a fourth hijacked plane from Newark had crashed in Pennsylvania. Because the command center at the field office was too small and phone lines were out, agents began setting up one at the field office's garage at Twenty-sixth Street and the West Side Highway.

Agents had open lines to the command center at FBI headquarters in Washington. The Strategic Information Operations Center was a $20 million, twenty-room complex of phones, secure computers, and video screens. Mueller was there. FBI agents and the bureau's top brass began pouring into the center, along with representatives from the Central Intelligence Agency, Secret Service, Defense Intelligence Agency, Customs Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Aviation Administration, Justice Department, National Security Council, Department of Energy, and National Security Agency. Attorney General John Aschroft would arrive that afternoon.

America's war on terrorism had begun, and the FBI was at its epicenter.

Table of Contents


Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
2. G-MEN,
9. INGA,
10. TAPES,
18. FREEZE!,
Praise for The Bureau,

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