America's Book of Secrets (2012) s01e08 Episode Script


NARRATOR: It is America's most powerful police force, an elite team of special agents secretly patrolling the nation and the world.
Its mission is a matter of public record, but its tactics are classified.
Locked safely inside the FBI's Washington, DC, headquarters are confidential files, encrypted hard drives and secrets-- secrets so covert It is a institution that is built on and filled with secrets.
NARRATOR: so clever The capability of the government to surveil people and monitor activity, it's tremendous.
NARRATOR: so cunning They will stage a phony traffic accident where they'll have a police officer stop them.
NARRATOR: that they must be kept hidden from the public.
Robert Hanssen sold secrets that cost lives.
The United States has probably never had a more dangerous spy.
NARRATOR: There are those who believe in the existence of a book a book that contains the most highly guarded secrets of the United States of America a book whose very existence is known to only a select few.
But if such a book exists, what would it contain? Secret histories? Secret plans? Secret lies? Does there really exist America's Book of Secrets? The leading law enforcement agency of the United States is known simply as the FBI.
Its mission: to protect and defend the U.
against domestic and international threats that are deemed too large for local or state authorities to handle alone as well as those that may compromise the foundation of American society.
Spies, hackers, jihadists, mobsters and murderers are just a few of the criminals that the Federal Bureau of Investigation ERROLL SOUTHERS: The FBI is the nation's premier law enforcement agency charged with prosecution of Federal crimes, investigations, a whole variety of activities, from terrorism to narcotics, white-collar, organized crime.
MAX HOUCK: They are tasked with investigating crimes that are across jurisdictions, um Federal crimes and counterterrorism.
JOSEPH KOLETAR: If it's a bank robbery of a Federally insured bank, they're concerned about it.
If there's an aircraft hijacking, they're concerned about it.
Counterterrorism is a huge Espionage is a continuing issue.
It kind of difficult to get your arms around the breadth of the FBI because they just do so many different things.
NARRATOR: With an operating budget of nearly $8 billion a year, the FBI includes over 13,500 special agents and nearly 22,000 analysts, scientists and specialists.
Rarely photographed in an effort to hide their identity and protect their lives and that of their families, many would be surprised to know that FBI agents today operate all over the world.
The Bureau maintains over 400 locations in the U.
and dozens of international offices, called GARRETT GRAFF: Under J.
Edgar Hoover, as the first Federal law enforcement agency, it began dealing with crimes that were state to state.
Over the last couple of decades, it has morphed into what I would argue is the world's first global police force, an agency that has hundreds of agents posted to more than 80 countries overseas, every single day.
Anytime a terrorism crime or a kidnapping happens to an American anywhere in the world, the FBI responds.
SOUTHERS: There is now, out of the National Counterterrorism Center, a 70-person unit and five teams to chase leads on sleeper cells anywhere in the world.
The public has nidea what role we play on the international stage, particularly as it relates to investigations.
When things happen around the world, almost irregardless of country, the FBI's gonna be there first.
NARRATOR: On May 2, 2011, FBI forensic agents were included in the covert raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
The world watched and wondered-- had bin Laden really been found? (two gunshots, body thuds) And how did the U.
gather the evidence it needed to positively identify the remains of America's most wanted terrorist? SOUTHERS: Because of the FBI's capacity to collect and process information, they're always first on the ground.
You can bet that if there's an incident that involves evidence collection and there's terrorism involved, and particularly if the United States has a nexus to it, the FBI is there.
HOUCK: You can only excavate a scene once.
You get one chance to get it right, because once you move something, that's not the way it was-- you've changed history.
So you have to be meticulous.
NARRATOR: But while the FBI's mission is clear, the thods used to protect the U.
and its citizens often remains top secret.
GRAFF: If there was a book about America's secrets, the FBI's chapter would be one of the longest and richest in the country.
KATHLEEN PUCKETT: There are a lot of things the FBI has to do that it has to keep secret.
The FBI keeps a lot of secrets, and we do it to keep the nation safe.
NARRATOR: But is there a limit on how far the FBI can and should go to combat crime? And if so, where is the line between protecting the public and preserving our personal liberties? KEN ACKERMAN: The amount of information that our government has on us today-- not just the FBI but them in combination with the National Security Agency and others-- is enormous.
How it's using that information, how deeply they are tracking any one of us, we may not know for another 20 years.
(computers beeping) NARRATOR: Today, the FBI's most closely guarded secret is a special unit of highly skilled undercover agents who conduct covert human intelligence operations.
Known as the Tactical Operations Division, or TacOps, these units include hostage rescue and crisis negotiation teams and regional Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT, teams.
GRAFF: The TacOps division of the FBI are the people that you've never heard of.
They're the secretive side of the FBI that are responsible for surveillance and sort of spying on the people the FBI is investigating.
RONALD KESSLER: The FBI's biggest secret is how it breaks into homes and offices to plant bugging devices without the agents being caught and shot as burglars.
PUCKETT: To get the job done, the FBI has to be able to get into that location, secure the information and get out without ever being noticed.
And there are ways to do this.
I can't tell you all of them, because, uh, we'd have to brief you into programs that you're not cleared for.
KOLETAR: Basically, you have to defeat the lock and alarm systems, whether it's a car, whether it's a house, whether it's an office building, doesn't matter.
We've got people that are very good at doing that.
KESSLER: Usually, about ten agents will be involved on the actual break-in, and each will have a different task.
One person will make sure that everything is put back in place.
They'll take photographs of everything beforehand.
If they move a chair, they'll put a tape where the chair was.
And, uh, they bring their own dust in case, uh, they disturb any dust on a coffee table or a desktop.
They'll replace that dust with their own dust.
Let's say they have to drill into a wall, they bring their own very high-tech, small vacuum cleaner to clean up any sawdust.
NARRATOR: If a target is spotted returning to their location earlier than expected, agents are in place to divert them.
KESSLER: They will stage a phony traffic accident, or they'll have a police officer stop them and give them a ticket, or they will open a fire hydrant in the area so nobody can go back.
In one case, the FBI created a party on a yacht, and they had knockout gorgeous FBI female agents go to the yacht and have a party for these individuals who were involved in political corruption.
And while the party was going on, TacOps put the bugs in their offices.
(whirring) NARRATOR: In certain situations, undercover agents will enter the premises while the target is on site.
Using various disguises and characters, skilled agents can secretly plant a listening device right underneath the target's nose.
KESSLER: Let's say they want to put a bug in a Mafia home.
They will introduce static on the individual's telephone line.
He will call a repair service at the phone company.
But the FBI will intercept the call, pretend to be repair service and say, "We'll be right over.
" Well, sure enough they do go over in a telephone company truck, wearing telephone company uniforms.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF: The strategy was to go after individual families, like the Gambino family, to try to bring a case against the leadership for a whole host of criminal activities engaged in by the family.
NARRATOR: This tactic proved especially effective in taking down some of America's most elusive mobsters, including John Gotti.
AKA the Teflon Don, the violent mobster who headed New York's Gambino crime family was caught on tape discussing several murders and criminal behaviors.
JEFF LANZA: John Gotti was caught with a bug planted in what he thought was impenetrable.
It was his social club in New York.
They recorded conversations about hits, and that's what led to John Gotti's conviction.
GOTTI: He's got to get whacked for the same reason that Joey thought he was getting it.
" CHERTOFF: We used to hear him on the tapes.
Gotti began to fancy himself kind of a man about town.
He was very public.
And in doing that, he really painted a target on himself and made himself the focus of an enormous law enforcement effort, which resulted in him being ultimately convicted and sent to jail.
NARRATOR: Thanks to the secret recordings, on April 2, 1992, John Gotti was found guilty of 13 murders and numerous other crimes, and was sentenced to life in prison.
In the two decades since Gotti's conviction, surveillance equipment and techniques have become ever more sophisticated.
But despite the high-tech advancements, many believe the most valuable intelligence-gathering comes from secret, undercover surveillance.
Coming up ERIC O'NEILL: They knew that there was a traitor somewhere, and they found one.
KOLETAR: The Soviets didn't even know who he was because Hanssen was good.
GRAFF: Hanssen is the most dangerous and deadly traitor the FBI has ever had.
(beeping) NARRATOR: To secretly track America's enemies, the FBI turns to its Special Surveillance Group, a unit of highly-trained investigative specialists known as "ghosts.
" But how deeply undercover are these ghosts? Are their identities only kept secret from the public, or are they also hidden from the FBI's own special agents? And how exactly do they covertly conduct their observations without being detected? GRAFF: The FBI's ghosts are part of the secretive surveillance teams who most special agents don't even know who these people are.
O'NEILL: I can't tell you too much about how an SSG operative does what they do.
A lot of that is classified, and that would get me in a lot of trouble.
But they're 100% undercover, and so, they are doing covert work to catch spies and terrorists.
I was an investigative specialist.
I was a ghost.
So, my job was to follow spies and terrorists covertly.
That doesn't mean in the shadows.
That means that I might have been in plain sight, but I'm blending in.
In other words, I am following them, I am collecting information on them, but they never know I'm there.
Hence the term "ghosts.
" The four most important things while conducting a surveillance are, one: know your target.
If you don't know some good facts about your target, about some of the places they might go, about some of the things they might enjoy or like, you're never going to be able to surveil them successfully.
The second is to know your environment.
If you don't know where you are, you're gonna have a really hard time following someone, especially if that person knows it better than you do.
You need to be able to hide in plain sight.
You're not gonna be the guy sneaking around in the shadows or hiding behind Dumpsters.
You're gonna be the person who's walking in a crowd and blending completely.
You want to be grey.
You want to be boring.
You don't want to be James Bond.
You want to be the mousy guy in the corner that no one notices; the wallflower.
And finally, you have to know how to adapt.
Everything that possibly can go wrong will go wrong, so you have to remain unshaken, confident, and you've got to do what you can do to keep that surveillance running, stay covert, continue to blend and adapt to the situation.
NARRATOR: The ability to blend in when tracking a criminal is crucial for FBI information gathering.
But what happens when there is a breach of intelligence? What does the FBI do when a special agent turns into a double agent and becomes an international spy? On June 27, 2010, FBI agents arrested ten members of a Russian spy ring that operated in Massachusetts, Virginia and New York.
The arrests came after a seven-year investigation that included deep cover agents involved in a counterintelligence operation called "Ghost Stories.
" GRAFF: The FBI used a variety of different surveillance techniques-- everything from fixed surveillance cameras, down to videos and microphones hidden in backpacks that they would set up in cafes.
NARRATOR: Among the spies taken into custody was Russian national Anna Chapman, a fashionable 28-year-old the media dubbed a modern-day Mata Hari.
The FBI claimed that neither Chapman nor her co-conspirators were an immediate threat to U.
Could the arrests that day have been designed to serve a more secret purpose? Weeks after the arrests, the U.
traded the Russians for four operatives being held on spy charges in the former Soviet Union.
One of the four men handed over to the U.
was Alexander Zaporozhsky.
Many believe Zaporozhsky secretly helped take down a rogue FBI agent who committed one of the worst security breaches in U.
O'NEILL: They knew that there was a traitor somewhere.
So the FBI started looking at sources that could give us information that would lead us to this traitor in our midst, and they found one, who provided a folder of information from Russia that had some evidence that led to Robert Hanssen.
GRAFF: Robert Hanssen is the most dangerous and deadly traitor the FBI has ever had.
He was a career agent, who had spent decades spying for the Soviet Union, then the Russians, without any notice, and rising to actually become one of the highest-ranking agents studying the Russians.
NARRATOR: For 22 years, Hanssen had secretly supplied the Soviets and Russians with sensitive information on U.
security, as well as intelligence on KGB agents DR.
RAYMOND BATVINIS: He knew how counterintelligence worked.
He knew what the strengths were, and he knew what the Achilles' heel of counterintelligence was.
Not just the FBI, but any counterintelligence service.
KOLETAR: The Soviets didn't even know who he was.
Because Hanssen was good.
He knew how to cover his tracks, 'cause he was in the game.
NARRATOR: The FBI had strategies for dealing with double agents, but were they prepared for a traitor as high up in the organization as Hanssen? What kind of a trap did they use to take down a spy as skilled as a real-life Jason Bourne? O'NEILL: They created a new division called Information Assurance, they put him in charge of it, and they decided that what we'll do is give him access to everything.
And if we give him access to everything, he'll be the kid in the candy store, with no one minding the shop, who just can't resist reaching up and stealing something.
So, I was offered the job, told that you're gonna work with Robert Hanssen, investigate him, take orders from a senior agent who's going to be handing down what she wants you to do.
And if they had used a trained, face-to-face agent to do the job, Hanssen might have noticed all of the different tips and tricks that someone who's trained to do this might do.
I had to make him feel comfortable.
And I did that by talking with him, making him feel that I wasn't investigating him, making him feel confident that the Information Assurance section was a real division, that he had a real person who worked for him who wanted it to succeed and wanted him to succeed so that we could continue to be a functional part of the FBI.
NARRATOR: By 1998, the CIA and FBI were working together to confirm their suspicion that Hanssen was selling secrets.
But how do special agents secretly investigate one of their own? How do you trap someone who knows all of the same tricks of the trade as you? And what could undercover agent Eric O'Neill do to catch Hanssen red-handed? O'NEILL: You start looking for those sort of things that they do to make sure that an investigator might not find the information that they want to hide.
And his was a Palm Pilot.
I went through the bag, grabbed the Palm Pilot, uh, ran down two flights of steps to where we had a team waiting, and they copied it.
And it turns out that on that Palm Pilot, we were not only able to find, uh, the day that he was going to make the drop but where he was gonna make it.
So we were able to put a team at that drop site ahead of him and caught him, uh, red-handed, in the act of espionage.
NARRATOR: On February 18, 2001, Robert Hanssen was arrested and charged with 13 counts of espionage.
Five weeks from retirement, the rogue agent was getting ready to exit the agency with a pension and an estimated $1.
4 million in cash from the Russians.
After Hanssen's arrest, the FBI released a list of the secret intelligence the former agent sold to the Soviets and Russians from 1979 to 2001.
O'NEILL: During that time, he gave up some of the most egregious secrets that have been given up by a spy.
NARRATOR: Included were the names of double agents, military strategies, and details of a secret location where American leaders would be hidden during a national crisis.
GRAFF: Robert Hanssen sold secrets that cost people's lives, that cost operations, cost taxpayers billions of dollars, and the United States has probably never had a more dangerous spy in its 200-year PUCKETT: When one of your own turns out to betray an organization like the FBI, um it just shakes the whole organization to the core.
NARRATOR: Coming up SOUTHERS: 9/11 was a game changer.
It required us now to share information, to work on analyzing intelligence together.
KOLETAR: Once the bomb goes off, it's too late.
So you want to find out what the bad folks are up to before it happens.
(airplane approaching) (explosion) MAN: Go! Run away! (sirens wailing) NARRATOR: The events of September 11, 2001, not only changed how the U.
responds to terrorist attacks, it influenced the way America now defends itself against potential threats.
(camera shutter clicking) Like many government and law enforcement agencies, the events of 9/11 forced the FBI to reinvent itself.
Now preventing terrorism became the number one priority.
LANZA: The common thinking after 9/11, in the weeks and months that followed if there was another terrorist attack, the FBI was gonna be history.
And so they needed to change the FBI to make sure that that didn't happen.
KOLETAR: Once the bomb goes off or once the bug gets loose, it's too late.
So you want to find out what the bad folks are up to, and then put together a strategy to stop it before it happens.
SOUTHERS: 9/11 was a game changer.
It required us now to share information.
It required us to work on analyzing intelligence together.
NARRATOR: After nearly a century of working in secrecy, the FBI created a revolutionary new security unit called the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The JTTF put local, state and Federal officials on the same team for the first time.
LANZA: This is a secret the public really doesn't know about, but the FBI, even inside its own agency, they could not share information between agents who gathered information in an intelligence capacity-- in other words, trying to just figure out who the bad guys are that might be attacking our country-- and, then, agents working on criminal cases, investigating crimes after they'd occurred.
We were forbidden by law from sharing that information.
Agents sitting next to one another in the FBI office, couldn't talk about these cases.
NARRATOR: Today there is a Joint Terrorism Task Force team in every major U.
They meet secretly in undercover offices code-named "fusion centers.
" GRAFF: Fusion centers are these shadowy organizations that combine state, local and Federal officials to share intelligence and try to identify threats.
Most people have never heard of them, and if the FBI has its way, most people never will.
SOUTHERS: I think what the American public would find really interesting is that they could be walking past the fusion center and not even know it's there.
Everybody who works in those centers has a top secret clearance.
Police officers next to sheriffs next to FBI agents, all working on the same cases, all collecting and analyzing data-- something that didn't happen a decade ago has really changed the way that we do things.
NARRATOR: But how does the FBI use information gathered by into the future and predict anok attack? And once a plot is discovered, at what point does the FBI step in and prevent it from occurring? KOLETAR: Rather than wait for something to happen and then try to find the bad guys, the emphasis now is much more infiltration, information analysis and disrupting operations before they ever get off the ground.
(siren wailing) NARRATOR: August 2005.
Local police in Torrance, California, call in the Los Angeles Joint Terrorism Task Force after finding questionable information in a wallet and cell phone dropped by one of the suspects at the scene of a gas station robbery.
But why was the L.
task force investigating a crime that, on the surface, seemed to be petty? The wallet belonged to Gregory Vernon Patterson, an employee of a duty-free shop at Los Angeles International Airport.
But when they searched Patterson's home, they were alarmed.
But what did they find? SOUTHERS: When they did the search warrant on the location, you would think we're looking for the proceeds or profits of robberies, but when they got in there and they saw maps, and laptops, and automatic weapons, and a whole host of things that suggested this was more than a group of guys out doing robberies.
NARRATOR: Data stored on Patterson's mobile phone led the JTTF to a terrorist cell that had formed in Folsom Prison.
SOUTHERS: They called themselves JIS, which was translated as the Assembly of Authentic Islam.
Very interesting collection of actors.
You had Kevin James, who was at Folsom Prison.
Levar Washington, who was there with him, and they formed a cell of four people.
They came out of prison, they connected with an individual who was a Pakistani National named Hamad Samana.
Levar Washington was being interviewed and spoke fluent Arabic and said he was from Sudan.
When one of the JTTF members saw some tattoos, ran them through the computer system and realized that Washington was a Los Angeles Rollin 60's Crip gang member who was now fluent and self-taught in Arabic in prison, and part of this cell.
These guys were out doing gas station robberies trying to collect the necessary money they needed for ammunition because they were gonna be active shooters at LAX.
They were gonna target the El Al ticket counter, which is the official airline of the state of Israel.
They were gonna target the Israeli Consulate on Wilshire Boulevard.
Two National Guard recruiting centers, and three synagogues in the Los Angeles area.
GRAFF: In the FBI's eyes, if you never hear of the Assembly of Authentic Islam, they've done their jobs.
NARRATOR: By sharing information with dozens of U.
law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force has successfully broken up cells in more than seven American cities, potentially saving the lives of thousands of unsuspecting people.
SOUTHERS: This particular operation, we believe, is one of the closest ones we've had since 9/11 to going operational and this is living proof of why a JTTF is necessary and what it can do.
GRAFF: The record that the FBI has amassed since 9/11, that we went a decade without a single U.
civilian being killed in a terror attack in the United States is just an impressive record of achievement.
NARRATOR: Coming up PUCKETT: It's a secret club.
When you become an FBI agent, what we call the FBI family.
LANZA: You have to walk that fine line between non-criminal activity and criminal activity.
SOUTHERS: The one criteria is they don't believe they can fail.
NARRATOR: In 2010, Business Week reported that college students ranked the FBI as one of America's "Hottest Employers.
" And even though the job demands that recruits put their lives on the line every single day, America's students recently voted the agency as the third most desirable place to work after Google and the Walt Disney GRAFF: The FBI loves recruits who know science, who know foreign languages, who know computers, who are invested in the high-tech 21st-century world.
KESSLER: The FBI has no trouble recruiting.
In fact, the competition to become an FBI agent is as great as getting into Harvard.
PUCKETT: It's a secret club.
So when you become an FBI agent, you've immediately got what we call the FBI family.
And you know, your whole life, that that's who you are and who your people are.
NARRATOR: But how does the FBI select its elite group of agents from the tens of thousands of applications they receive? Are there secret qualifications they look for? And how do they know who can ultimately be trusted? LANZA: You want someone who's a logical thinker and a hard worker and a self-starter.
You have to be good on your feet, quick on your feet.
You have to be a good actor and you have to be able to blend in and walk that fine line between non-criminal activity and criminal activity.
And sometimes it's a very fine line.
SOUTHERS: The one criteria that you've got for the people that I've met is they don't believe they can fail.
The FBI hiring process includes a battery of interviews, security checks, drug testing, psychological evaluation, and even a polygraph test.
PUCKETT: The FBI doesn't specifically say, "We want to intimidate you.
" What they want to do is test your resolve, test your ability to withstand pressure, your ability to multi-task.
NARRATOR: Qualified recruits are sent to the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia, for a 20-week intensive training program.
Studies include national security and criminal investigation, Constitutional law, interrogation techniques, and firearms training.
SOUTHERS: You spend time doing, really, three things.
You're in the classroom, you're in the gym, and you're on the range.
It was very, very rigorous.
We had block exams.
Those were our academic coursework exams.
If you did not meet the minimum standard score, you had a chance to repeat that exam.
If you didn't meet the score the second time, you were on a plane home.
If you didn't qualify on the range, you'd be on a plane home, and same with physical training.
NARRATOR: To prepare the agents-in-training for real-life, high-pressure scenarios, recruits are thrown into Hogan's Alley, or what the FBI calls "the most violent town in America.
" AGENT: Don't move! The mock town includes a hotel, a pool hall, and a bank, and it's inhabited with actors who are skilled in the art of misdemeanors and felonies.
LANZA: It's a 10-acre spread that's a training ground for FBI agents to go out and make arrests, to do investigations in real life.
That bank is robbed more than any other bank in the world.
It gets robbed just about every day.
NARRATOR: Those who pass the 20-week program and are judged to be models of the Bureau's core values are invited to join the FBI, but there is one last requirement before officially becoming an agent.
KESSLER: As a condition to joining the FBI, agents agree not to reveal any secrets.
In addition, if the information is classified, then it would be a violation of federal law to reveal those secrets.
NARRATOR: When they graduate, agents also take an Oath of Office, agreeing to defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
But why does the Bureau keep new agents in the dark about where they are going and what they might be doing? SOUTHERS: You have no notion of where you might be assigned as a new agent.
I came in as a police officer thinking that when I got out of the Academy I might be assigned to the Fugitive Squad or the Bank Robbery Squad, and I wound up being assigned to Foreign Counterintelligence and Terrorism.
So you just never know.
When Hoover was the director, there was a policy of new agents not going back to their office of origin, so that all ties with anyone that you might know, anything that would put an agent in a situation where he might be compromised or subject to corruption was removed because you were transferred to a place where you didn't know anybody.
NARRATOR: A former Special Agent, Erroll Southers served most of his FBI career undercover.
SOUTHERS: The hardest part of being an undercover agent is not having contact with the people that are your FBI family.
You couldn't exactly go and play softball with people from the office, because you never knew who was watching you.
The biggest fear is running into someone who knows you, and them coming up and saying my name, or talking about something with people that were with me in a a way that would compromise the operation.
You spend a lot of time alone, and that's probably one of the toughest things.
It's a tough job.
NARRATOR: Coming up BATVINIS: The capability of the government to surveil people-- it's really quite amazing.
LANZA: What's gonna stop a hacker from bringing a terrorist act into that cyber network? GRAFF: The FBI's biggest concern is the nation's infrastructure.
NARRATOR: May 26, 2010.
FBI agents arrest an Army Intelligence Analyst, Private Bradley E.
He had downloaded over a quarter of a million classified documents and military video footage and given it all to WikiLeaks, an on-line organization, based overseas, dedicated to exposing U.
government secrets.
This headline-making case made it clear to all that in the 21st century, the FBI has a whole new class of criminal to police-- one that operates invisibly in the digital domain, and who, with one click of the mouse, can cause military confusion, GRAFF: The FBI's fastest-growing part today is its cyber branch.
LANZA: Cyber crime is a huge issue today.
What we've seen over the years is an increasing capability of the hackers and the cyber criminals to stay one step ahead of law enforcement.
Companies are getting their computers hacked into on a daily basis.
Fraud is a regular part of their lives.
And if they can't protect their computers, what's gonna stop a hacker from bringing a terrorist act into the cyber network? NARRATOR: But what is the cyber crime, the digital doomsday scenario, that the FBI most fears? GRAFF: The FBI believes that the biggest threat to the nation today is either a weapon of mass destruction or a cyber attack.
The ability to take down the nation's power grid, to take down a city's water system is very real and something that the FBI is concerned about every single day.
LANZA: Yeah, imagine if the electrical power grid in New York is shut down for any length of time, what kind of ramifications that would have.
GRAFF: The FBI every day, every minute, is trying to monitor the nation's critical infrastructure, both by working with private corporations, as well as keeping its own watch in cyberspace about who's trying to attack us.
NARRATOR: According to the Bureau, a cyber doomsday scenario could start with a virtual Trojan horse-- spyware hidden inside a free smart phone app.
The FBI is concerned that this could infect millions of other electronic devices and lead to anything from a shutdown of the U.
economy to an interference of the GPS signals the military needs to guide troops and aircraft, to nationwide blackouts.
(wind whistling) But if the worst does happen, how can the FBI find the perpetrator? What covert tools and technologies does the Bureau have to combat cyber crime? GRAFF: What's amazing about cyber crime cases is that the FBI almost has to solve the case before they know whether they're dealing with a terrorist organization, a criminal group, a foreign government, an organized hacker or a teenager down the street.
LANZA: In the old days, which weren't that long ago, you know, it was shoe leather.
You went out and got one piece of information, which led to another, which led to another.
Now you can go at light speed on the Internet, a few clicks, someone's Facebook account, you can get lots of information very quickly.
It's all out there, and it saves a lot on the wingtips when you just can do it right from your SOUTHERS: We are living in a hyper-connected society.
And the social network that we're all part of, we're all linked in a way that makes it quite interesting and challenging for law enforcement to put those links together.
NARRATOR: Of course, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube aren't the only new weapons in the Bureau's 21st-century arsenal.
The FBI makes no secret of the fact that it uses its own software to uncover subversive social networks by connecting individuals of interest together.
BATVINIS: The capability of the government to monitor computers, to observe, to surveil people and monitor their computer activities-- it's really quite tremendous.
SOUTHERS: If you go back and look at, specifically, 9/11, we see people in the last several years that we didn't know had connectivity to some of those hijackers when they were here in the United States in 2000.
Now we are able to do that.
That is very, very important, because what might not be obvious are those people that have no criminal histories.
But because of the network they're in, it might be worth looking at.
At the end of the day, all intelligence really needs to point to the human being.
We've got to start to become a lot better at finding the bomber and not the bomb.
We want to see people when they're sitting in their apartment building, and not when they're at the airport.
NARRATOR: But software and social networking sites are only a fraction of how the FBI is using computer science.
These digital detectives are now able to find data in your electronic equipment just as efficiently as their forensic scientist counterparts analyze DNA.
Concealed in secret locations across the country are 16 state-of-the-art Computer Crime Labs where specialists analyze what's known as digital evidence.
GRAFF: The FBI's cyber labs and its regional computer forensic laboratories are some of the most secretive parts of the FBI today.
They are high-tech, cutting-edge, and they're hidden in plain sight all over the United States.
NARRATOR: At any one of these Regional Computer Forensics Labs, computers, cameras and phones can be scoured for vital clues that might solve a crime.
GRAFF: Digital evidence is becoming a bigger and bigger part of the FBI's world.
These are the e-mail breadcrumbs or the Internet breadcrumbs that are left by our digital lives HOUCK: Everybody's got a phone and a computer and a tablet, and you name it.
That same sort of explosion is happening now, and I would say in ten years, digital evidence is going to be where DNA is now.
We won't be able to even consider a simple crime without thinking about some form of digital evidence assisting that investigation.
NARRATOR: As the law enforcement needs of the nation have grown, so, too, has the Bureau, but despite its global reach and resources, the FBI's greatest strength is perhaps its ability to keep America safe by keeping its crime-fighting tactics secret.
GRAFF: The FBI today is a 21st-century high-tech organization that uses cutting-edge technology, much of which is still secret to the rest of us.
O'NEILL: There are many secrets.
Secrets of espionage and secrets of crime and secrets of terrorism.
Secrets of psychology and secrets of sociology, and the FBI is in the middle of all of that.
KOLETAR: In terms of an investigative technique, we'll probably keep that secret, primarily 'cause we don't want the bad guys to know about it.
NARRATOR: In less than a century, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has grown from a handful of unarmed agents with special powers to enforce U.
laws nationwide, to a formidable international operation.
And while their methods can be covert, their mission is clear: to uphold America's laws and protect the citizens of the United States.
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