The dismantling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 electrified the world

and dramatically rang up the Iron Curtain on the final act in the Cold War:

the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, which occurred on December 25,



While world leaders scrambled to reposition their foreign policies and

redefine national security parameters, the FBI responded as an agency in

January 1992 by reassigning 300 Special Agents from foreign

counterintelligence duties to violent crime investigations across the

country. It was an unprecedented opportunity to intensify efforts in

burgeoning domestic crime problems--and at the same time to rethink and

retool FBI national security programs in counterintelligence and



In response to a 40-percent increase in crimes of violence over the previous

10 years, Director Sessions had designated the investigation of violent

crime as the FBI's sixth national priority program in 1989. By November 1991

the FBI had created "Operation Safe Streets" in Washington, D.C.--a concept

of federal, state, and local police task forces targeting fugitives and

gangs. It was now ready to expand this operational assistance to police



At the same time, the FBI Laboratory helped change the face of violent

criminal identification. Its breakthrough use of DNA technology enabled

genetic crime-scene evidence to positively identify--or rule out--suspects

by comparing their particular DNA patterns. This unique identifier enabled

the creation of a national DNA Index similar to the fingerprint index, which

had been implemented in 1924.


The FBI also strengthened its response to white-collar crimes. Popularized

as "crime in the suites," these nonviolent crimes had steadily increased as

automation in and deregulation of industries had created new environments

for fraud. Resources were, accordingly, redirected to combat the new wave of

large-scale insider bank fraud and financial crimes; to address criminal

sanctions in new federal environmental legislation; and to establish

long-term investigations of complex health care frauds.


At the same time, the FBI reassessed its strategies in defending the

national security, now no longer defined as the containment of communism and

the prevention of nuclear war.


By creating the National Security Threat List, which was approved by the

Attorney General in 1991, it changed its approach from defending against

hostile intelligence agencies to protecting U.S. information and

technologies. It thus identified all countries--not just hostile

intelligence services--that pose a continuing and serious intelligence

threat to the United States. It also defined expanded threat issues,

including the proliferation of chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons;

the loss of critical technologies; and the improper collection of trade

secrets and proprietary information. As President Clinton was to note in

1994, with the dramatic expansion of the global economy "national security

now means economic security."


Two events occurred in late 1992 and early 1993 that were to have a major

impact on FBI policies and operations. In August 1992, the FBI responded to

the shooting death of Deputy U.S. Marshal William Degan, who was killed at

Ruby Ridge, Montana, while participating in a surveillance of federal

fugitive Randall Weaver. In the course of the standoff, Weaver's wife was

accidentally shot and killed by an FBI sniper.


Eight months later, at a remote compound outside Waco, Texas, FBI Agents

sought to end a 51-day standoff with members of a heavily armed religious

sect who had killed four officers of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and

Firearms. Instead, as Agents watched in horror, the compound burned to the

ground from fires lit by members of the sect. Eighty persons, including

children, died in the blaze.


These two events set the stage for public and congressional inquiries into

the FBI's ability to respond to crisis situations.


On July 19, 1993, following allegations of ethics violations committed by

Director Sessions, President Clinton removed him from office and appointed

Deputy Director Floyd I. Clarke as Acting FBI Director. The President noted

that Director Sessions' most significant achievement was broadening the FBI

to include more women and minorities.


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