Federal Bureau of Investigation Legal Attaché Program*
Report No. 04-18
Office of the Inspector General
|Chapter 4:||Liaison Activities Were Effective At The Legal Attaché Offices Reviewed|
We concluded that the Legal Attaché in Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Africa were maintaining effective foreign liaisons. Most of the officials we interviewed were complimentary about the Legal Attaché and the working relationship that existed between their offices. Many provided examples of how they personally, or their agencies in general, had worked with the Legal Attaché to solve international crimes. Officials in the two countries where English was not the primary language—Japan and Germany—often noted how impressed they were with the ability of Legal Attaché staff to communicate fluently in their language and emphasized the positive impact this ability had on fostering a close working relationship. In addition, many officials spoke highly of the training provided or arranged by the Legal Attaché.
We had limited information in advance of our trips regarding the law enforcement structure of the countries we visited or the Legal Attaché liaison contacts in these countries, so we relied on the Legal Attaché to identify their key foreign law enforcement liaisons and arrange the meetings with officials from these and other agencies. While an argument could be made that such a selection might be biased in favor of the FBI, we have no reason to believe this was the case. We found the discussions to be frank and open and the comments were not always positive. We also were able to satisfy ourselves that the agencies we contacted provided a cross-section of the Legats’ liaison activities.
The Legal Attaché or their staff sometimes introduced us to their foreign liaisons, which provided us with an opportunity to observe firsthand their interaction with these officials. However, Legat staff did not attend our meetings with the foreign liaisons. When the services of translators were needed, we either hired them or used translators provided by the foreign agency.
Details of Liaison Activity and Accomplishments by Office
The following sections present information on the law enforcement structure in the countries visited, the views of foreign officials at the agencies we contacted, and examples of specific investigations that were worked in conjunction with foreign law enforcement agencies. The examples were obtained primarily from fiscal year 2001 and 2002 Legal Attaché Annual Accomplishment Reports and from discussions with Legat staff.25 In most instances our meetings with foreign agencies were with high-level officials and so we generally did not discuss specific investigations. Rather, these discussions focused on broader issues such as:
Legat Ottawa - The Legat Ottawa’s primary liaison contacts in Canada are with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), both of which are components of the Office of the Solicitor General. A significant amount of the Legat’s time is spent making requests for information to these two agencies and furnishing the results to the requesting FBI field offices or FBI headquarters. In addition, Legat staff participate in joint investigations with Canadian law enforcement agencies and serve as liaison with Canadian law enforcement for FBI personnel from the United States who are in Canada working on investigations.
The RCMP is the national police force in Canada; it provides police services to most of the Canadian provinces and territories and is the local police force for about 200 municipalities. The RCMP is Legat Ottawa’s primary point of contact for most law enforcement issues in Canada. We interviewed officials from the RCMP’s International Operations, Financial Crimes, and Immigration and Passport Branches at the agency’s headquarters in Ottawa. All stated that they had a productive and close working relationship and frequent contact with the Legat and his staff and mentioned that some of their officers had attended the FBI’s National Academy. The RCMP officials praised the Legat’s counterterrorism efforts since the BORDERBOM case and the September 11 terrorist attacks, but expressed concern that the Legat’s heavy counterterrorism workload had created a gap in the Legat’s ability to pursue other serious crimes with a connection to Canada.
Legat Ottawa’s other principal liaison is with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), which is engaged in intelligence gathering and investigations involving threats to Canadian security such as [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] and sabotage, foreign-influenced activities, political violence and terrorism, and subversion. CSIS is not a law enforcement agency and if the information it collects indicates possible criminal activity, the RCMP has jurisdiction. CSIS is a domestic intelligence agency, [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED]. CSIS is headquartered in Ottawa and has regional offices throughout Canada.
We interviewed representatives from the Counter Intelligence, Counter Terrorism, Counter Proliferation, and the Foreign Liaison and Visits Branches of CSIS. [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED] in Washington, D.C. On the other hand, they pointed out that the Legat appeared to be short-handed and, as a result, often relied on temporary FBI personnel to fill in the gaps. Several of the officials indicated that long-term relationships were especially important in the intelligence business. Thus, they were not as comfortable sharing information with FBI personnel on temporary duty and with whom they had not developed such a relationship.
Officials from the Office of the Solicitor General, roughly the Canadian equivalent of the U.S. Department of Justice, told us they frequently dealt with the Legal Attaché on political and policy matters, such as the logistics associated with Solicitor General or DOJ officials’ trips to each others’ countries. They said that the Legat was always helpful and responsive in dealing with the many details involved in such trips. On the other hand, these officials said there was a lot of misunderstanding on the part of the public and some government officials in Canada regarding the FBI’s presence, especially because this presence was growing. While these officials thought the Legat had made a reasonable effort to explain the rationale for the FBI’s presence, they felt he could do more to “market” the program.
Representatives from the Ottawa Police Service and the Police Chief of the Toronto Police Service indicated they had little direct contact with the Legal Attaché office because the FBI typically went through the RCMP for information. Nevertheless, Ottawa police officials said they knew the Legal Attaché and did not hesitate to contact him when necessary. They mentioned a burglary of a Canadian Immigration office that occurred just prior to a visit by the President of the United States in which several uniforms were stolen. The Deputy Police Chief said she immediately notified the Legal Attaché of the incident.
One difference between Legat Ottawa and the other Legats we reviewed was that, because of Canada’s proximity to the United States, FBI field offices near the border have for many years worked closely with Canadian police authorities. This creates a potential for conflict if the Legat, who is responsible for all FBI activities in Canada is not kept apprised of what contacts field offices are making in Canada. However, the Chief of the Toronto Police Service told us that over the years he had developed a strong working relationship with the FBI’s Buffalo, New York field office and, consequently, preferred to deal with agents from that office rather than the Legat staff in Ottawa.
We discussed the Chief’s comments with the Legat and he told us that in the past the Buffalo field office had nominated Toronto law enforcement officials to participate in FBI National Academy training programs without his input or concurrence. After he had raised his concerns about the practice, the Buffalo field office began to seek his input. Nevertheless, he still believed he was, in effect, competing against the Buffalo field office in providing training slots at the FBI National Academy for Canadian law enforcement officials.
We brought this issue up with FBI Headquarters officials at the exit conference and they subsequently provided documents which discussed the establishment of a “Border Liaison Officer” position in the Buffalo field office. Such positions have been in existence on the Mexican border and in the Caribbean since the early 1990s and are designed to help FBI field offices deal with the myriad of criminal activity occurring across the border with Mexico and the Caribbean. According to the documents provided, the Buffalo Border Liaison Officer is responsible for coordinating contacts with Canadian law enforcement and intelligence agencies in the Buffalo/Niagara border region and keeping Legat Ottawa apprised of these contacts.
Determining whether the Buffalo field office appropriately coordinates its contacts in Canada with the Legat was beyond the scope of our review. However, the police chief’s comments raise a concern. In our opinion, the role of the Legat could be diluted if Buffalo field office personnel are not coordinating their activities with the Legat. Further, if the Toronto sub-office is ultimately opened, the FBI could be perceived by Canadian authorities as being disjointed if both the Legat sub-office and Buffalo staff are meeting with the same Canadian authorities and not coordinating their efforts. In addition, other FBI field offices near the Canadian border may have similar contacts with their Canadian counterparts, all of which, in our opinion should be coordinated with Legat Ottawa.
The following are examples of Legat Ottawa’s liaison efforts and accomplishments in Canada obtained primarily from the Annual Accomplishment Reports.
Legat Berlin – Legat Berlin’s primary liaison contacts in Germany are with the German federal criminal police—
Bundeskriminalamt (BKA); the [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED]; and state police agencies, known as Landeskriminalamts (LKA). We interviewed several of the Legat’s foreign liaison contacts in these agencies in Berlin, Cologne, and Meckenheim, Germany. These officials were complimentary of the Legat staffs’ professionalism and responsiveness and emphasized appreciation for their language proficiency.
The BKA is the German federal criminal police. It has three locations consisting of a headquarters office in Wiesbaden which includes all criminal case operations, a branch office in Meckenheim for all counterterrorism and espionage matters, and a branch office in Berlin for protective responsibilities. The BKA is the Legat’s primary law enforcement contact in Germany and is responsible for all investigative and liaison relationships between Germany and foreign federal law enforcement agencies. The Legat contacts the BKA concerning all criminal investigative requests, counterterrorism matters where either a specific threat situation exists or a prosecution is imminent, and [SENSITIVE INFORMATION REDACTED] matters where there is evidence to be obtained for presentation in court. The BKA reviews the requests, determines which technical unit within the BKA should respond and, if necessary forwards the request to the appropriate LKA for investigation at the state level.
The official in charge of the Terrorism Division stated that the BKA has law enforcement officers from several countries besides the United States working in their Counterterrorism Center. The personnel from the other countries are permanently assigned to this location. In contrast, FBI Legat personnel are temporary and, according to this official, temporary duty staff are not on site long enough to establish effective liaisons with BKA staff. The official was pleased, however, that the Legat staff, including those on temporary assignment, spoke German. When we discussed this with OIO officials, they agreed that a permanent presence was desirable. However, they stated that additional permanent positions abroad have not been funded and, as a result, a permanent presence in the Counterterrorism Center would have to come from existing resources.
Two of the BKA officers we spoke with supervised and worked on the Hamburg task force that investigated the terrorist cell whose principals were involved with the attacks of September 11, 2001. The FBI and the BKA, along with numerous other agencies, worked closely together on this investigation, they said. Nevertheless, the BKA officers stated that while they were empowered to share information with the FBI, this information sharing was often one-way. Authority to give out information seemed to vary from one FBI agent to another and some FBI agents had to check repeatedly with FBI headquarters to determine if they could pass information to the BKA. In the BKA officials’ opinion, this situation was disruptive to the investigation.
[CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED]
[CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED]
We interviewed two high-level officials from the Berlin LKA (similar to the state police in the United States). Both were graduates of the FBI’s National Academy. Both officials stated that at their level, their contacts with the Legat office were nominal, but one of these officials stated that his staff worked closely with Legat personnel. He also commented that it was absolutely necessary for the FBI to have a presence in Germany, especially after the events of September 11.
The LKA processed over 38,000 pieces of data related to the September 11 hijackers and helped with tracing their movements from Hamburg.
The following are examples of Legat Berlin’s accomplishments from their 2002 Annual Accomplishment report.
Legat Pretoria - The Legat’s primary law enforcement contact in South Africa is with the South African Police Service (SAPS). SAPS is a national police force that also performs many of the functions that are performed by local and state police in the United States. It is headed by a National Police Commissioner and has its headquarters office in Pretoria. Each of the nine provinces in South Africa also has its own SAPS office that is headed by a Provincial Police Commissioner, who in turn reports to the National Police Commissioner. We interviewed officials from the SAPS’ Crime Intelligence Division, the National Central Bureau, and the Training Division. We also met with the SAPS Provincial Commissioner and his Deputy in Cape Town.
The Crime Intelligence Division (CID) within SAPS conducts crime analysis relating to terrorism, organized crime, various other crimes, and intelligence matters. The officials stated that their Division receives many requests for assistance from the Legal Attaché office. Their liaison efforts with the Legat office focus on organized crime and terrorism issues. They have conducted traces and compiled profiles on individuals, and performed telephone record checks for the Legat office. After CID logs in the Legat’s request, it is sent out to the individual provinces for investigation and action when applicable. CID then receives and finalizes the response and forwards it to the Legat office. The officials discussed an anthrax-related investigation that was worked jointly with the FBI, which required many interviews. The officials stated that it was a good learning experience for their SAPS officers to see firsthand how the FBI operates, and that this investigation was handled very professionally.
Officials from the National Central Bureau component of SAPS that maintains liaison with INTERPOL said that they worked closely with the Legat office on extradition matters, shared information on criminals, and conducted criminal checks on behalf of the FBI. The officials also said they had helped Legat staff establishing contacts with law enforcement officials in other countries in Southern Africa. They commented that the Legat personnel were professional, always accessible, and responsive.
The Deputy Commissioner of the SAPS Training Division told us that SAPS has been sending selected senior officers to the FBI’s National Academy since 1996; and upon their return, the officers are expected to train other police officers in order to share their newly obtained knowledge. He added that, in his opinion, if the FBI did not have agents “on the ground” in South Africa, the communication between the two agencies would be poor. He also stated that he was a graduate of the FBI’s National Training Academy. He added that he was working closely with the Legat on developing a refresher course for FBI’s Academy graduates from African countries.
The SAPS officials we spoke with in Pretoria did not identify any concerns about their interactions with the Legat during our discussions. However, when we interviewed the Provincial Commissioner and his Deputy in Cape Town, they remarked that the Legat staff had ignored established protocol on at least two occasions by meeting and seeking assistance from subordinate staff on investigative matters without first seeking their permission. One of the incidents, involving an investigation of a Finnish businessman suspected of selling arms to Iraq, had potential international repercussions, yet neither their own staff nor the Legat staff had informed them of the matter, the Provincial officials said. We discussed these comments with the Legat and ALAT. They explained that they had met with SAPS police officers in Cape Town after another U.S. law enforcement official mentioned that the police had information regarding the Finnish businessman’s alleged activities. The Legat staff said they quickly determined that the information did not warrant further investigation and said they told the SAPS police officers to inform their superiors about the meeting. The Legat staff said they had not seen a need to contact the Provincial Commissioner themselves.
The following are examples of Legat Pretoria’s liaison efforts and accomplishments partially based on information contained in Legat Pretoria’s 2002 Annual Accomplishment Report.
Legat Tokyo - Our review of Legat Tokyo’s liaison activities was limited to Japanese law enforcement and intelligence authorities. The Legat’s primary law enforcement contacts in Japan are with the Public Security Investigative Agency, the Japan National Police Agency, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. According to the Legat, contacts with representatives from these agencies occurred frequently, often on a daily basis, and involve counterterrorism, foreign counterintelligence, organized crime, and other criminal matters, such as computer and financial crimes and fugitive apprehensions.
The Public Security Investigative Agency (PSIA) is a component of the Ministry of Justice responsible for monitoring potentially dangerous domestic terrorist groups. It gathers intelligence on organizations that have the potential for violent subversive activities and disseminates the information to law enforcement agencies. We interviewed officials from the Legat’s contact within PSIA, the International Division. These officials advised that they worked closely with the Legat and readily exchanged information on terrorist threats. [CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REDACTED].29 International Division officials were also complimentary of the Legat and ALAT’s fluency in Japanese, their willingness to make presentations at the agency, and their ability to obtain slots for PSIA officials at the FBI Academy.
The Japan National Police Agency (NPA) is the central law enforcement agency in Japan. Its many duties include supervising and controlling prefecture police departments, police training and standards of recruitment, coordinating efforts to combat trans-prefectural organized crime, and providing international criminal investigative assistance.29 We interviewed representatives from NPA’s Second Organized Crime Control Division, Second International Affairs Division, and the Foreign Affairs Division, Security Bureau. Second Organized Crime Control Division officials told us that the Legat and his staff had been very helpful and responsive in providing needed information on the Yakusa’s contacts in the United States. Similar to PSIA officials, NPA officials were also highly complimentary of the Legat and ALAT’s command of the Japanese language adding that this ability was very helpful in communicating with NPA officials and facilitated getting things done. Representatives from the other two NPA components made similar comments adding that, although they had their own liaison in Washington, D.C. in order to obtain information from U.S. law enforcement agencies, they often submitted requests through the Legat office because the Legat provided a quicker response.
The International Criminal Investigation Division (ICID) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police investigates crimes committed by foreigners in Tokyo. The Superintendent of the ICID told us he had frequent contact with the Legat because many of the crimes the Division investigated had a connection to the United States and because the Legat was a frequent guest at FBI National Academy alumni events. Since 1977, he said about 90 Japanese law enforcement officers had graduated from the FBI Academy and about one-half of the graduates worked in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, many in high-level positions. The Legat also had made a number of presentations at the Metropolitan Police Department and at the Japanese National Police Academy.
The following are examples of Legat Tokyo’s liaison efforts and accomplishments in Japan taken primarily from the Legal Attaché Annual Accomplishment report.
Based on our review of the Legal Attaché in Canada, Germany, Japan, and South Africa, we believe that the Legal Attaché program is an important tool in the fight against terrorism and in helping the FBI investigate and solve crimes that have an international connection. Generally, the offices we reviewed appeared to be effectively establishing liaisons and working cooperatively with foreign law enforcement agencies. In our opinion, the FBI would likely experience more difficulty obtaining needed information on international-related investigations if it did not have Legal Attaché stationed abroad. In our discussions with foreign law enforcement officials, it was readily apparent that the ability of Legats to speak the host country’s language as well as their ability to offer FBI National Academy training slots greatly facilitated their standing in those countries and helped foster effective liaisons.
One difference between Legat Ottawa and the other Legats we reviewed was that, because of Canada’s proximity to the United States, FBI field offices near the border have for many years worked directly with Canadian police authorities. This creates a potential for conflict if the Legat, who is responsible for all FBI activities in Canada, is not kept apprised of what field offices are doing. The Legat told us that such a situation had occurred in the past; specifically, the Buffalo field office had nominated Toronto police officials for training at the FBI National Academy without his knowledge or input. FBI headquarters officials provided documents after the exit conference which discussed the establishment of a Border Liaison Officer in the Buffalo field office. The Border Liaison Officer’s responsibility includes ensuring that appropriate coordination occurs between Buffalo and Legat Ottawa. Determining whether the Buffalo field office appropriately coordinates all contacts in Canada with the Legat was beyond the scope of our review. However, in our opinion the role of the Legat could be diluted if Buffalo field office personnel are not coordinating their activities with the Legat. Further, if the Toronto sub-office is ultimately opened, the FBI could be perceived by Canadian authorities as being disjointed if both the Legat sub-office and Buffalo staff are meeting with the same Canadian authorities and not coordinating their efforts. In addition, other FBI field offices near the Canadian border may have similar contacts with their Canadian counterparts, all of which, in our opinion should be coordinated with Legat Ottawa.
We recommend that the FBI:
|* BECAUSE THIS REPORT CONTAINED INFORMATION CLASSIFIED AS "SECRET" BY THE FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION, WE REDACTED (WHITED OUT) THAT INFORMATION FROM THE VERSION OF THE REPORT THAT IS BEING PUBLICLY RELEASED. WHERE SUCH INFORMATION WAS REDACTED IS NOTED IN THE REPORT.|