A FBI Agent Mary Prang at WVRC on September 9th
NEVIN SENKAN led the Pledge. SALLY BRANT provided the invocation thought. She began by telling us that the 9th of Sept was special to her, since her first child was born on that date in 1973. The Human Touch followed: “Tis the human touch in the world that counts the touch of your hand in mine. Which means far more to the fainting heart than shelter and bread and wine. For shelter is gone when the night is o’er, And bread lasts only a day. But the touch of the hand and the sound of the voice. Sing on in the soul alway.” Well done, SALLY thanks. And then, who else but President Gordon himself led us in God Bless America. No, he isn’t LENNY, but we done pretty good anyway.
We had a Visiting Rotarian, Delaney Dragon from LA 5 says he is in the film business. SALLY BRANT brought an old friend, Chrys Stamatis. PP CHRIS BRADFORD had Brian Whitney with him, perhaps as a Special Guest. Athena Jackson, a former member, has come back after six years away and is a working artist. PEGGY BLOOMFIELD had her caregiver along. CURT SMITH was pleased to announce that he has become a grandparent, for the first time and she weighed in at 8.1lbs! At this point, TERRY de SOUSA found that SHERRY DEWANE didn’t have her pin, which cost SHERRY the usual five bucks.
It should be noted that the Head Table was graced (is that the proper word?) with the presence of PP ERIC LOBERG, SHERRY DEWANE, and PP ERNIE WOLFE, none of whom had anything worthwhile to say. However, YOE has just returned from Europe, having failed to attempt any makeup’s (all those sheep in Wales got in the way) so it cost him fifty clams, payable in dollars. Birthdays were called, which included SCOTT FITCH leading off on the 3rd, in Long Beach. Vice President ED JACKSON liked the 12th, in LA. AVA PEPLOW chose the 15th in Santa Monica, JOHN HEIDT settled for the 24th in Oceanside, and SEAN MCMILLAN ended the list on the 27th, in Kilarney, Ireland. The only one of the above who had the nerve to show up was VP ED JACKSON, who complained that we needed more September birthdays!
But two sad notes must be added here AVA PEPLOW recently had a fall, and broke her hip. During treatment, she developed pneumonia. The good news is that AVA has recovered, and has moved to a nursing facility, Country Villa Sheraton, 9655 Sepulveda Blvd, North Hills, CA 91343 phone is (818) 892-8665, and she would love to hear from you. When she is able to navigate, Ava will go to Chico to live with her son, and thus her former address no long applies. MARIE ROLF gave me the above information, for which we thank her. PP DON NELSON reported on the sudden passing of DANA WOOD this past weekend. Apparently he had a heart attack, and couldn’t be revived. DANA’S memorial service will be at Westwood United Methodist church on Sunday the 26th of September, probably at 2 pm.
My thanks to my four Editors of the Windmill while I was lollygagging in Eruope. August 12th, ELLIOTT TURNER, for MARK BLOCK, August 19th, MARK ROGO, August 26th, DWIGHT HEIKKILA, and Sept 2nd, PP RON LYSTER. Seeing their work does make me realize that there are lots of members who can make our meetings live. Thanks again, Ernie.
PP CHRIS BRADFORD introduced our Speaker, FBI Supervisory Special Agent Mary B. Prang. Born in Detroit, she holds a BA in Marketing with a minor in Japanese from Eastern Michigan University. She entered the FBI as a Special Agent, with training at Quantico, VA in 1996. Her first duty assignment was to Los Angeles, and she was promoted to Supervisory Special Agent at FBI Hqtrs in July 2001. She returned to LA on 2004 as a Squad Supervisor, and then earlier this year was transferred to the Office of Public and Congressional Affairs as Supervisor.
Agent Prang began by outlining the mission of the FBI. It is to protect the United States from terrorists and to provide leadership in criminal justice services to federal, state and international agencies. Note that after 9/11, the FBI was transformed from a traditional law enforcement agency into a national security service. Going back to the 30s and 40s, the FBI was seen as combating spies, communists, and racketeering. Some of their clients included John Dillinger, Al Capone, Baby Face Nelson, and bank robbers in general. Today the line between cyber crime and traditional crime doesn’t exist all has become blurred together. Once, international activity was the exception today it is the rule.
The FBI is an agency of the Dept of Justice, and thus their operating budget comes from Congress. They are A-political, with no bias permitted. There are about 13,500 Special Agents, plus perhaps 20,000 support staff. Among agents, men dominate, while women are the majority in support areas. The majority are Caucasians. The Los Angeles office, which is the 3rd largest, has about 800 agents and covers an area of 44,000 square miles, with 18 million inhabitants. There are 56 domestic offices and offices in 70 foreign countries, which cover over 200 states and islands. They are growing - as a comparison, in 2001 their budget was 3.1 billion in 2009 it was 7 billion. She thinks it is about 8.5 billion this year.
Their priorities are set by the national office. The first is to protect the US from terrorist attacks. Second is to protect the US against foreign intelligence operations. #3 is to protect against cyber attacks. The fourth is protection against corruption at all levels. Number five is to protect Civil Rights. Next is to combat international and transnational criminal organizations. They must also combat major white collar crime, and violent crime. And they must support local, state, federal and international partners as needed. Last is to create technology to assist in all their endeavors.
How broad is counter-terrorism? The mission is to disrupt terrorist operations before they occur. Counter intelligence protects the US against foreign intelligence operations. Part of this is to identify threats, and counter them. They must be vigilant against cyber and internet fraud.
They feel they are pretty good at reducing public corruption. Their intelligence program is relatively new for them, dating essentially from 9/11. Sorting and classifying the intelligence they receive is a continuing responsibility.
Q&A How cooperative is the FBI with the CIA? We work closely with them. What type of recruits are you seeking, background, etc? Originally, a law or CPA degree was required, but that no longer applies. A bachelors degree is required (and YOE remembers when you had to be a licensed auto driver plus at least 25 years old!) Language skills are important, certainly. What is the salary range? When I started, it was $36,000 now it is about $60,000 depending upon your qualifications. How does the FBI keep current with all the advances in technology? We have our own laboratory at Quantico, and we do recognize that it is constantly improving. Do you have a specific policy regarding gangs? They are a problem, and our intent is to put them away for as long as possible. As a Special Agent, how much time is spent preparing for court? It depends on your area. Personally, she has never appeared in court.
When I think of the FBI I think of J. Edgar Hoover he apparently could call the President directly. What is current policy? The Director is appointed for a ten year term, and is not subject to termination by the President. In Westwood, how much of the Federal Bldg are you occupying, and what is your future there? The original plan was to tear down the present structure and build two new structures in the current parking lot. This was abandoned due to community objections. Presently, we have from the 8th floor to the 17th floor, and we will continue to expend in that building. Technically, the building is owned by the Veteran’s Administration. For new employees do you have a training program, and if so, is it the same for all employees? No, I spent 21 weeks at Quantico, but there are several different programs. There is on-the-job training for all employees, particularly during their probationary period. It really depends on your job classification. Are all Special Agents armed? Yes, we are all required to carry weapons. What is your gang strategy does it apply to RICO? Yes, and we try to take out the entire leadership.
Special Agent Mary Prang, thank you for being with us today.