But Enemies is not an all-out criticism of the FBI, Mr. Weiner does point out how the FBI changed under Director Robert Mueller, who believed in doing the right thing and even offered to resign (with other senior members) if the Bush administration wouldn’t stop illegal domestic spying after 9/11. The administration stopped and Mueller has set a new tone for the FBI.
The eye-opening account of the state of information technology (IT) state of the FBI was a shock. Unlike what movies and TV has us believe, up until recently the FBI’s IT department was sorely lacking. Agents didn’t have email, couldn’t contact agents in other offices or share information. That is one issue which the FBI struggled with since day one – lots of data but little information. An FBI agent “could not perform a Google search or send e-mails outside their offices” - not in 1980, but in 2000!
Another aspect of the information provided which was difficult to comprehend was the lack of cooperation with other intelligence services and sometimes within the Bureau itself. It was disheartening to read how past directors have misjudged their mission, making the White House their main enemy while the agents investigating Al Qaeda misinterpreted a directive from the Department of Justice to share evidence. An agent trying to get a search warrant for Zacarias Moussaoui, the 20th hijacker, didn’t receive it because the FBI apparently “did not have a dog in this fight”. That was on the afternoon of 10 September, 2001.
Enemies is an immensely interesting read, depressing at times but with all the makings of a first-rate thriller. At times I had to put the book down because it is so full of information and at times because it was simply too hard to believe what I was reading. I always respected the work the FBI does and this book just heightened my admiration to the agents and the leadership that is taking the institution in a new, more constitutional, direction.