Home News Speeches FBI National Academy: Evolving to Meet New Challenges
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  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • National Academy European Chapter Conference
  • The Netherlands
  • September 19, 2006

Good afternoon. It is great to be here. I always enjoy spending time with National Academy graduates. I myself have not been through the 10 weeks of National Academy training, and so I can't truly understand the experience, but being with you at graduations and conferences is the next best thing.

I want to thank Hanneke Brouwer for her hospitality and for her service as president of the European chapter. And I want to thank each of you for traveling from your own countries to be here today. It is one thing to cross the ocean for 10 weeks of training. It is another to keep the National Academy experience alive by continuing to come together years after you have graduated. I want to thank you for your continued commitment to the National Academy Associates.

More than 70 years ago, Director Hoover established the National Academy-though back then, it was called the FBI Police Training School. Only 23 students attended the first session. At their graduation, the students formed the National Police Training School Associates.

And during the eighth session of the National Academy, the first retraining program was held in Washington, D.C. The vision of the associates was to make sure that the relationships that began at the academy would not end there. Their vision was to stay connected, to become leaders in their agencies, and to pass on their knowledge to other officers. Their vision was to build a worldwide law enforcement network, officer by officer, country by country, generation by generation.

Seven decades later, we are meeting in the Netherlands. Last year, we met in Scotland, and next year we will meet in Estonia. You are the worldwide law enforcement network. You are the ancestors of those first National Academy alumni. And you have made their vision a reality.

Today, I want to talk about how the threats we faced 70 years ago have evolved, and how the FBI and the National Academy have also evolved to meet today's challenges.

Let's go back for a moment to the 1930s in America:

National Academy students took classes such as "Bank Robbery Investigations," and "Criminal Investigation Techniques" to learn how to more effectively combat bank robbers and gangsters. Criminals were just beginning to take advantage of the automobile to cross state lines and evade capture. Threats that affected Finland had nothing to do with threats affecting Florida. And the idea of regularly communicating with law enforcement officers in other countries was about as foreign as the Internet.

Flash forward to 2006:

Today's National Academy curriculum reflects the reality that we are investigating everything from cyber crime to organized crime to terrorism. Criminals and terrorists can now hop on an international flight, or hop online and ignore borders entirely. Our enemies may be based anywhere in the world, or anywhere on the World Wide Web. Threats that originate in Paris, France, may have an impact in Paris, Texas. And law enforcement officers are training together and working together all across the world, from Quantico to Qatar.

Last year, we talked about how advances in technology and the spread of globalization have made the world "flatter." We also discussed the need to create our own "flat world" across the global law enforcement and intelligence communities.

This year's theme of "Empowering Possibilities Beyond Borders" builds on that discussion. The world continues to flatten, and threats continue to cross international boundaries. The only way to defeat global threats is by building global partnerships.

These partnerships are born in training. They grow stronger through joint investigations. And they come to maturity through leadership.

The National Academy training is one of the pillars of improved international cooperation. But there are many others.

For instance, the FBI conducts extensive training both at Quantico and overseas. Just in the last year, we have trained Iraqi police officers in combating terrorism. FBI personnel traveled to Cairo to provide terrorism financing and money laundering training to Egyptian law enforcement officers. Last month at Quantico, we trained a delegation from Lebanon in establishing two Evidence Response Teams in their own country.

Hundreds of officers have attended the International Law Enforcement academies in Budapest (Hungary), Bangkok (Thailand), Gaborone (Botswana), and Latin America. They received training on everything from weapons of mass destruction response to public corruption to terrorist crime-scene management.

These are just a few of our ongoing training efforts. The partnerships built through training lay the groundwork for future cooperation.

Let me give you an example. In May 2003, the Saudi government allowed the FBI to send a large forensic team to assist their investigation of a terrorist bombing of housing compounds in Riyadh. There was unprecedented cooperation, in part because more than 100 Saudi police were trained at the National Academy. The FBI and Saudi officers were using the same techniques and the same terminology. As they told us, "We were taught together, now we can work together."

This same spirit of cooperation is alive and well in Europe. Here in the Netherlands, the FBI works closely with the Dutch National Police Agency on counterterrorism matters. One joint investigation involved an Iraqi-born Dutch citizen who had traveled from the Netherlands to Iraq in order to attack coalition forces. This investigation resulted in the first U.S. criminal charges connected to terrorist activities in Iraq.

In Romania, the FBI has teamed up with the Romanian National Police to form a joint cyber task force. Together, we investigate major cyber cases that have international dimensions.

In Italy and Hungary, the FBI has teamed up with police to target international organized crime. Also in Italy, we had exceptional coordination between U.S. and Italian law enforcement at the 2006 Olympics in Turin, due largely to the liaison efforts of National Academy graduate Giuseppe Petronzi.

In Spain, we are working closely with law enforcement on a variety of investigations, from counterterrorism to child exploitation. As one example, Spanish law enforcement working on a cyber investigation identified a man who was living in the United States, but who intended to travel to Spain to sexually exploit a child. The Spanish authorities alerted us, and we initiated a parallel investigation. By working together, the man was arrested in Spain and is now in custody.

And in the United Kingdom, we have outstanding information-sharing with our counterparts. This partnership improves every day. For example, we worked closely with British authorities on the July 2005 bombings. They sent boxes filled with tens of thousands of documents to our Legat office in London. Our London staff manually combed through the boxes to find the most pressing leads, and then had to ship them back to FBI Headquarters.

That experience taught us that while our information sharing was excellent, our means of sharing needed work. And so together, we revamped the process.

This past summer, we worked closely with British investigators on the London plot to bomb airplanes bound for the United States. We communicated constantly. But this time, British authorities passed the intelligence electronically to our Legat in London. The Legat office was able to upload it immediately onto the FBI system. Agents and analysts back in the United States were then able to download it the same day.

These are just a few examples. I know there are others—and not just examples involving your agencies and the FBI, but success stories that have come from your countries working together. I said earlier that training turns into partnerships, and partnerships turn into leadership.

And so I want to challenge you, as the leaders of the worldwide law enforcement community, to create even more success stories.

The economist John Kenneth Galbraith said, "All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was their willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time."

The major anxiety of our people in our time is terrorism. We just marked the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, which changed the course of our nation, and of the FBI.

But Europe is no stranger to terrorism. In the last two and a half years, terrorists have attacked Madrid and London. In other countries, more plots have been disrupted, and terrorists have been arrested. For example, earlier this month, a group of men were arrested on suspicion of preparing explosives for a terror attack in Denmark.

Working together, we have made significant progress in combating global terrorism. But we still face determined and committed adversaries. They will continue to be the major challenge of our time.

That is why your leadership is so important. You must lead the way to greater cooperation in Europe and around the world. You must lead the way to better communication among law enforcement and intelligence agencies in your own countries. You must lead the way to closer collaboration on multi-national investigations. You must lead your colleagues, especially those who are your juniors, toward stronger relationships with other colleagues in other countries.

It is our personal connections, far more than any technology or tool, that are at the heart of our ability to protect our countries. Criminals and terrorists operate in covert local and international networks. The only thing that can stop their network is our network.

You must lead the way. And just by being here this week, you have shown that you are leading the way. Because the best way to protect our nations is to strengthen the friendships that were forged in the classroom, in the Boardroom, and on the Yellow Brick Road.

These relationships transcend our differences. They run deeper than any ideology. And they are stronger than any weapon.

If we continue to build these relationships, I have no doubt that we will prevail.

Thank you again for inviting me to be here today. Thank you for all you do for the FBI and for the global law enforcement community.

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