This morning, I would like to talk about two recent developments that will improve the Nation's security during this important period of transition and will give the next Administration some of the tools necessary to keep us safe.
First, as you may know, a little over a month ago, Congress took a vital step in passing the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, bipartisan legislation that will give our intelligence professionals critical long-term authorities to monitor foreign intelligence targets located overseas. The ability to intercept and evaluate the electronic communications of our country's enemies is one of the most important defensive weapons we have.
Each morning, FBI Director Robert Mueller and I receive a classified briefing on terrorist threats to our Nation and the rest of the civilized world. As someone who previously thought he knew something about terrorism, I can tell you that these briefings are sobering. We face an enemy with a presence, literally, in every part of the globe; yet who, in many places, is virtually undetectable. Because of that, I cannot overemphasize the importance of obtaining timely intelligence on our adversaries' capabilities and intentions.
The FISA Amendments Act modernizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 and ensures that we will be able to obtain timely and critical intelligence about the communications of terrorists located overseas. Enacting this proposal into law required significant bipartisan leadership from both Houses of Congress and from the President. I was proud to work on this issue and to let others know how important it is to give our intelligence professionals the ability to monitor our enemies and to protect our homeland. This legislation will put critical national security surveillance activities directed at terrorists overseas on long-term institutional footing, while at the same time providing new and unprecedented safeguards for the civil liberties of Americans.
The second development I would like to speak to you about today is our effort to develop new Attorney General Guidelines for the FBI's activities in the United States . We are in the process of consulting with Congress on the content of these Guidelines, and hope to have the Guidelines implemented and made public within the next few weeks. I want to take this opportunity to tell you a bit about what these new Guidelines are -- and what they are not.
Since the September 11 attacks, the FBI has undertaken the most significant transformation in its history. The FBI has long been, and must continue to be, the nation's preeminent law enforcement organization. But immediately following the attacks, it became clear that the Bureau's primary mission must be to detect and prevent terrorist attacks. Of course, the Bureau's national security mission and its law enforcement efforts are by no means mutually exclusive. Traditional criminal law enforcement techniques and authorities were used to confront the terrorist threat prior to September 11 , and have proven valuable since.
There was, however, a wide and bipartisan consensus -- a consensus reflected in the recommendations of two highly regarded blue-ribbon commissions and a joint congressional inquiry -- that the Bureau needed to shift its national security focus from investigating crimes after they occur to collecting the intelligence necessary to detect and prevent attacks before they occur.
Over the past six years, under Director Mueller's leadership, the Bureau has made major institutional changes to transform its intelligence capabilities. FBI Headquarters now is structured to take on the national security and counterterrorism mission, with a new National Security Branch that focuses on, among other things, intelligence, counterterrorism, and weapons of mass destruction. Director Mueller has also made important changes to the way that the FBI's national security personnel are recruited, trained, and promoted, to help develop a cadre of elite intelligence analysts and operators. I have worked closely with him on these issues since my confirmation.