What are priorities?
Oklahoma City is considered a midsized field office for the FBI. The division has about 125 agents and about 115 support employees, and has about 1,000 pending cases.
So what are considered the priorities for those agents working in Oklahoma?
The answer is straightforward: The priorities in Oklahoma City are the same priorities as in Boston, Dallas, Tampa, Fla., and others. They aren't the division's priorities, they are the FBI's top 10 priorities.
Here are the top five priorities: Protect the United States from terrorist attack; protect the U.S. against foreign intelligence operations and espionage; protect the U.S. against cyber-based attack and high-technology crimes; combat public corruption at all levels; and protect civil rights.
"Prior to 9/11 you could say that we kind of had the luxury somewhat of letting cases come through the front door,” Ward said. "And if we said, ‘Hey this is a great case, let's work this,' then we'd go out and run it until its conclusion.
"Subsequent to 9/11, agents are required to have greater knowledge of the overall threat and must be able to articulate how a case ranks with regards to the overall threat before an investigation is initiated.”
Robert Mueller became the FBI director on Sept. 4, 2001, just a week before the attacks against the U.S.
What happens here?
How do counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence relate to Oklahoma? Think about agriculture, our many military installations and the federally funded research through colleges and universities.
Then move ahead to the third priority, cyber crimes. Ward said counter-terrorism and especially counter-intelligence "go hand-in-hand” with computer intrusions when you think about information theft.
But there's another aspect that involves predators who go online to seek out a child.
The FBI has a statistic called a "locate.” A "locate” is the identification of a person who is engaged in cyber activity targeting children, and there's probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant or a search warrant, Ward said.
"We were able to identify enough of those that we led the FBI in locates of predators in 2007,” he said.
That fact may have been well-known among the FBI divisions, but to me it was intriguing and provided just a little more insight into the local office of this soon-to-be 100-year-old agency.