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  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Graduation of the 206th Session of the FBI National Academy
  • Quantico, VA
  • September 07, 2001

Remarks prepared for delivery.

Thank you, Jim [Schweitzer], and good morning everyone.

Tom [Smith, class spokesperson], thank you for that great speech. I can’t tell you how touched I was by it. You really captured how I feel about law enforcement. I see us as one big family. And whether you are a sheriff, a police officer, or a federal agent...or someone who waits anxiously every night for that officer to come home safely...what unites us as a family is the respect and concern that we have for one another. These are the core values of our profession. They are what make us a brotherhood and sisterhood capable of fighting crime and protecting freedom around the world.

It’s great to be here today. For me, this graduation is a perfect way to start my FBI career. I consider the FBI’s relationship with you—our state, local, and international partners—to be our top priority and the foundation of our success. We are very proud to support you, to be your colleagues and your friends. I’m looking forward to working with all of you and building our relationship in every way that I can. I think we’re off to a great start. I’ve enjoyed meeting many of you and seeing the spirit of friendship and community that exists here at the Academy. And I appreciate that you’ve made me feel so welcome.

Tom talked about our heroes. I couldn’t agree more about how much we need the unconditional support and understanding of our families. I have some heroes of my own—my wife Ann, two wonderful daughters, a son-in-law, and the most beautiful grandchildren in the world. I wish they could have been here today to hear Tom’s tribute.

I’d like to turn the tables for a moment, though, and talk about another group of heroes—our graduates, the proud members of the 206th. I want to congratulate each and every one of them. They have worked hard, both inside and outside the classroom. They have excelled academically. They have learned new ideas and strategies that they can take back and share with their colleagues. You may also notice that they’re looking a bit trimmer. Thanks to their work in the gym, they’ve lost a total of 576 pounds and 20 feet from their waistlines. Considering the way we’ve been feeding them, that’s not bad!

They’ve also spent time here reaching out to the less fortunate. They visited a camp for troubled teens, fixing up their facilities and playing softball with them. They donated 129 pints of blood to the Red Cross. They picked up trash along a nearby highway. They raised money and cooked meals for a local Ronald McDonald house. That’s pretty impressive. The press apparently thought so, too—two newspapers published stories about their humanitarian efforts. I know our graduates have been missed by their families, friends, and colleagues. But they have certainly made the most of their time here, and we were privileged to host them at the Academy these past 10 weeks.

In this profession, it’s always good to have the chance to get re-energized and re-focused. Because in many ways, these are tough times for all of us in law enforcement. Crime has never been more sophisticated, more complex, more dangerous, and more global in reach. From the Internet to international trade, from faster air travel to more open borders, we live in a much more interconnected world. But that has also made us more vulnerable—to attacks against our infrastructure, to quick and deadly strikes by international terrorists, to global organized crime rings peddling drugs, dangerous weapons, and even human beings. There was a day in law enforcement when teamwork and cooperation were virtues. Today, they are minimum requirements. No one of us alone is strong enough to face the threats that confront us today. We must work together as partners as seamlessly and effectively as we can.

There are three areas that are personally important to me as we go about building this cooperation—three priorities that I am focusing on in the FBI.

First, to always tell the truth. Most especially, to be honest with each other. That is the foundation of our relationships. All else flows from it...our credibility, our cooperation, and our competence.

Second, to disclose everything we can about our operations, as appropriate. For all of us, that means sharing information, expertise, and technical capabilities. If we do not, we will compromise our investigations, put informants at risk, and undermine the public trust. When I served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. a few years ago, I worked with its cold case squad. It pulled together the skills of local homicide detectives in questioning witnesses and their knowledge of area neighborhoods...and the resources and investigative capacities of the FBI to solve homicides. Together, by sharing our resources and our talents, we were able to do a better job of solving crime and serving our community. It exemplified the way we should all work together.

I also had the opportunity, while an assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice in the early 1990s, to experience first-hand the power of international cooperation during the investigation of the bombing of Pan Am 103. The eventual success of that complex and difficult investigation was the direct result of the outstanding work of a number of foreign authorities, particularly the Scottish police. An atmosphere of mutual trust and cooperation prevailed throughout the case, and it was a model of international teamwork.

Third, we must make sure there are no public or media leaks in our investigations. Many times, leaks happen when someone wants to be the first to take credit for a successful case. That’s unacceptable. Nothing undermines the credibility of a law enforcement organization more than having a reputation for leaking information to advance its own agenda. The FBI has an international reputation for leadership and excellence. Our people are proud of that reputation, and they should be. But we can’t afford for pride to become arrogance. We must do our jobs with respect and humility. After all, we exist to serve and support you, not the other way around. So I promise you, we’re going to let our work speak for itself, and only take credit when others are willing to give it to us.

All-in-all, I am optimistic about the future of the FBI and all of law enforcement. The level of cooperation, sophistication, and professionalism has never been higher, here in the United States and around the world. And we serve an honorable cause—the cause of freedom. Fighting for freedom is not like fighting a war, where victory is final. The battle goes on day-after-day, hour-after-hour, requiring us to give our very best and continually fight for what we believe in. You do that. The sacrifices that you and your families make are not in vain. They give every citizen—no matter who they are or what their station in life—an equal chance to live their lives peacefully and happily.

I’m honored to serve along side all of you. In the weeks and months to come, I look forward to serving and supporting you and cheering you on. We’ve got our work cut out for us. But together, I believe that we can make a difference.

Thank you very much.

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