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Special Agent T.L. Williams arrived at the Pentagon just hours after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack had ripped open the building. A forensic expert with more than a decade of experience as a criminal investigator, Williams began sifting through the still-smoldering rubble looking for human remains and other evidence. She worked long shifts at the grisly site for more than two weeks. But Williams is not an FBI agent or a police detective. She is an officer in the U.S. Army — a member of the Army’s detective force, officially known as the Army Criminal Investigation Command. From the start of President George W. Bush’s multifront war against terrorism, it has been difficult to tell where America’s law enforcement activity ends and the nation’s military campaign begins. And the role of Army investigators — which continues in Afghanistan, where a small band of Army agents work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to gather evidence from captured Taliban and al-Qaida fighters — blurs the lines even more. “We’re working closely with the FBI,” says Army Col. Daniel Quinn, chief of staff of the investigation command based at Fort Belvoir, Va. “We’re kind of joined at the hip with them in Afghanistan, assisting with evidence collection.” Now, Quinn says, the Criminal Investigation Command, known as the CID, is prepared to send its 11-member investigation team in Afghanistan — or to deploy a new team — to the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the detainees are being transferred. In addition, the CID has seven agents stationed alongside Army troops in the Afghanistan region, and more than 100 CID reservists have been called to active duty since Sept. 11. The Navy, Air Force and Defense Department each have their own criminal investigation units. While the Pentagon has not yet identified which will play the lead role in the military’s investigative effort, so far only Army agents have been working with the FBI to interrogate detainees. The sudden nexus of law enforcement and military interests has at times been uncomfortable for the Pentagon, still laboring over procedures for conducting military tribunals. And it is certainly distressing to some civil libertarians accustomed to greater separation between the military and the police. But coordination and information sharing between federal law enforcement agents and Army investigators is routine, say CID officers. The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the military from conducting civilian law enforcement. But because many CID investigations go beyond military jurisdiction, CID agents must team with their counterparts at local and federal agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. At any one time, CID agents may be working with local FBI agents on more than 100 investigations, says Quinn. Yet by all accounts interagency rivalry and turf-grabbing on an investigation are the exception. “We rarely have problems,” says the CID’s top lawyer, Lt. Col. Susan Gibson. “Everybody understands the importance of working together, and there is a real concerted effort to keep the lines of communication open.” In fact, since joining the CID about six months ago, Gibson says she recalls just one instance when a dispute demanded the attention of command headquarters. She adds, “Day to day, either they resolve problems at a local level or problems just aren’t happening.” Eugene Cromartie, the CID’s commanding general from 1983 until 1990, says when disputes do arise it is often because investigators butt heads over who takes the credit. “You can always resolve those issues at the top, where we all know each other,” says Cromartie, now deputy director of the International Association of Police Chiefs. “Sometimes, when there are spats at the grassroots level, the leaders just have to wade in and work it out.” A LONG TRADITION The existence of Army investigators dates back to World War I, when the Criminal Investigation Division was created under the umbrella of the military police corps. Before then, Army crimes were investigated by private detective agencies. After World War II, the investigative unit grew increasingly centralized until it was established as a major Army command in 1971, reporting directly to the chief of staff of the Army instead of regional commanders. Command status means Army detectives report only to CID commanders; it is intended to keep investigators on the ground relatively free from the political influence of local Army leadership. “Total neutrality is the objective for CID agents,” Gibson says. “It’s not their job to find someone guilty. It’s their job to get to the truth.” In rare instances, CID agents may even work with defense counsel to gather evidence. The CID’s mission is to investigate any major crime with an Army interest, including felony-level offenses committed by members of the Army, major offenses committed by civilian employees in connection with their official duties, crimes committed on Army property, or crimes that victimize the Army as an institution. In 2001, CID special agents stationed throughout the world investigated about 10,000 cases, including more than 350 rapes and about 50 murders. In addition to conducting criminal investigations, CID agents provide protection to top military leaders such as the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “We’re like the Secret Service, ATF, DEA and FBI all rolled into one,” says Quinn. But like the Army itself, the command has thinned considerably over the past decade. Since 1990, the CID’s budget has been cut by about $30 million, two of its three crime labs have been closed, and the number of CID agents has dipped from roughly 1,100 to 800. Despite the downsizing, the CID has conducted some of its largest inquiries ever over the past five years, including a massive criminal investigation in the late 1990s into allegations of rampant sexual abuse at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. At one point, more than 300 CID agents were working the case, which culminated in charges against 12 black drill instructors. Just months later, the CID launched an investigation into the Army’s top enlisted man, former Sgt. Maj. Gene McKinney, also black, for sexual misconduct. McKinney was ultimately cleared of all sexual misconduct charges, but was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice. In the wake of the sex scandals, the CID found itself the subject of an investigation into allegations of racial bias by the DOD inspector general. The command was cleared in 1999 after a seven-month probe. ‘DO WHAT HAS TO BE DONE’ Emblazoned on the CID’s insignia since 1972 is the ominous motto “Do what has to be done.” But because of the restrictions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement contained in the Posse Comitatus Act, there are areas where CID agents must tread carefully. For instance, CID agents cannot arrest civilians outside the limits of a military installation and must be accompanied by a civilian officer when executing a search warrant off base. Agents have the authority to detain civilians on military property, but must quickly turn them over to domestic law enforcement. “If you want to get in trouble quick and easy, you violate Posse Comitatus,” says Cromartie. “I don’t care how aggressive the pursuit, you just stop and make sure you’re not encroaching on rights of civilians.” Like many law enforcement agencies, the CID is re-evaluating its mission in the aftermath of Sept. 11, placing crime prevention on equal footing with after-the-fact prosecution. “Our whole focus hasn’t shifted, but new issues come up every day,” says Quinn, the CID’s chief of staff. A greater emphasis is being given to assessing, investigating and monitoring threats facing Army installations at home and overseas, including potential terrorist threats, says Quinn. “We’re not saying that there is a terrorist behind every tree,” he notes. “We’re just asking folks to get with their local FBI agents and their state police; to figure out the local threat, whether it’s gangs, or drugs, or militia groups; and to take countermeasures.” For other agents it is business as usual — but at a higher intensity. Agents tasked with investigating crimes on Army installations have responded to more than 300 anthrax scares on Army bases. Those charged with protecting senior military officials must be that much more vigilant. And for those, like Special Agent Williams, who toiled at the Pentagon, the experience will never be forgotten. “It was like no other crime scene anyone has ever worked before,” she says. “It was not only an attack on our country. It was an attack on our home.”

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