New generation of FBI counterintelligence agents enters the field
December 19, 2013 3 Comments
By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, America’s foremost counterintelligence agency, is preparing to field its first generation of operatives who acquired the bulk of their professional experiences after 9/11. In an enlightening analysis published in Newsweek, veteran intelligence corresponded Jeff Stein says the FBI’s is now being staffed by a new breed of field agents. This new cohort, which is gradually replacing the older generation of counterterrorism and counterintelligence agents, is far more skilled in the geopolitics of Islam, something that distinguishes them from their older colleagues. Tim Murphy, who recently retired as Deputy Director at the Bureau, told Stein that now “everyone in [FBI] counterterrorism knows the difference [between Sunnis and Shiites]”, which was not the case for many years after 9/11. The new FBI agents, said Murphy, also know “know the difference between factions in al Qaeda [and] the political and religious differences” that feed political Islam. The retired official added that over half of the agents on duty now at the FBI entered the Bureau after 9/11. Their interest in counterterrorism and counterintelligence has been furthered by the FBI’s decision to open up a host of new career branches for agents with specializations in intelligence. The latter have now started to enter the Bureau with degrees in international relations, intelligence studies, or computer science, whereas some years ago backgrounds in law and accounting topped the lists of new recruits. But new counterintelligence and counterterrorism agents are far more into “the world of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, Chinese hackers and Russian spies”, says Stein. He mentions several names of FBI rising officials who lead this new generation of fresh minds at the Bureau, including Michael Steinbach, former Special Agent in Charge at the FBI’s Miami field office, and James Ycone, who until recently led the Bureau’s field office in Denver. Others include Andrew McCabe, who heads the FBI’s National Security Branch, and Robert Anderson, who in 2012 was appointed as FBI Assistant Director for Counterintelligence. Murphy tells Stein that Anderson has “brought another style of aggressiveness to the Counterintelligence Division that we haven’t seen in the bureau in years”.