Top Charlotte FBI agent set to retire at weeks end

Top Charlotte FBI agent set to retire at weeks end


by RAD BERKY / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @RadBerkywcnc

Posted on November 22, 2012 at 12:27 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 22 at 12:27 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The top man in the FBI's Charlotte Division is retiring at the end of the week.

Chris Briese's career has spanned 25 years, the last 19 months of which he spent here in Charlotte.

"I was just this young guy coming out of Louisiana with goals and dreams like anybody else, and I had no idea of the adventure that lay ahead of me," said Briese, who was spending one of his last days at the Division office off Arrowood Road.

Much of his 19 months in Charlotte was spent planning and overseeing the FBI's role in security for the Democratic National Convention held in September. He said what made the convention go as smoothly as it did from a security standpoint was cooperation.

"Everyone knew what they were supposed to do," he said.

What keeps him awake nights though, is the unknown.

"I would say the 'lone wolf' terrorist is always one thing. You just don't know if he is going to show up," said Briese.

Briese spent much of his time at the Bureau in counter terrorism.

He led the team that arrested Zacarias Mousaoui, the so-called "20th Hijacker," who was convicted of conspiring to kill U.S. citizens in the attacks of 9/11.

"I take great pride that the team that I created and helped lead prosecuted the only guy in the U.S. to this day related to the 9/11 attacks," Briese said.

If there was one moment that stands out for Briese it was in Iraq, where the U.S. was at war and he was in charge of the interrogation of the newly captured Saddam Hussein.

"With airplanes flying overhead and bombs going off in the distance, it was kind of a surreal environment to have this guy that I had only seen on television...right there," he said.

Briese said Saddam responded surprisingly human to those who questioned him.

"Juxtapose the persona that he's had in the media and in history versus the man that is just standing in front of you," said Briese.

He called that simply another interesting experience -- part of that 25-year-long grand adventure.