- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Graduation of the 50th Session of the International Law Enforcement Academy
- Budapest, Hungary
- May 13, 2005
Good morning. It is an honor to be here today with the proud graduates of the 50th Session and with their chiefs and colleagues from their home countries. Yesterday, we marked the 10th anniversary of the founding of this Academy. Ten years ago, we had a vision of ILEA as an academy where international training would lead to international cooperation. Today, you join the more than 2,300 distinguished graduates who have turned that vision into a reality.
Let me begin by congratulating each of you on your success. You have worked hard the past eight weeks. You have gained a new appreciation of your roles and responsibilities as law enforcement officers. And you have also gained a new respect and appreciation for one another. Although I am told that Officer Attila Takacs might not choose "appreciation" to describe his feelings toward certain colleagues.
Officers Norbert Urban and Balint Lauko, it has come to my attention that you spent a great deal of your "training time" practicing your sting operation skills by convincing Attila that I had requested to stay in his room during my visit. Several official-looking warning signs were posted throughout the dorms to warn him that disco music and snoring would be prohibited during the night. Apparently, you came close to obtaining an official letter stating that Attila would need to keep his room immaculate and be prepared to vacate it as soon as I arrived.
Norbert and Balint, thanks so much for trying to make my stay pleasant. Attila, don't worry--I was able to find a hotel room so you can snore as loudly as you want.
When you look back on the past two months--especially you, Attila--what you will remember most are the relationships you formed with your fellow officers. On your first day at the Academy, you were asked whether you knew someone else in the room. Apparently, only a few of you raised your hands. Yet today, you are friends and partners. You came together as a team, transcending the differences that separated you, whether they were borders, backgrounds, or beliefs. You have become part of a global network of law enforcement.
This is more important than ever before, because we live in a global age. Years ago, our law enforcement agencies primarily focused on threats that came from within our own borders. Threats impacting Croatia did not necessarily affect Romania or Hungary. But as walls have fallen throughout the world and as technology has grown more sophisticated, we have learned that threats to one country usually affect other countries as well.
Today, an organized crime enterprise based in Budapest could launder money through banks in Switzerland and communicate with operatives in Slovakia or Singapore. A terrorist cell based in the Middle East could plan in Europe, finance operations in North America, and carry out an attack anywhere in the world. And a single computer programmer in the Philippines could launch a cyber attack that paralyzes information networks throughout the world, causing billions of dollars in economic damage.
Geography no longer hinders criminal activity. It must not hinder our cooperation. As the threats we face reach across our borders, we, too, must reach across our borders to form worldwide partnerships that can effectively combat global threats. ILEA makes that possible.
The training you have received here will be invaluable as you return to your home agencies. You were already skilled and talented officers before coming to ILEA, and it was a sacrifice for your departments to lose you for two months. But what you will bring back to your agencies is more than just new investigative practices--you will bring back investigative partners.
No matter how much forensic expertise one has, no matter how skilled one is at conducting interviews, no matter how well one understands how to dismantle criminal enterprises, no one can succeed alone. Relationships you have formed with your colleagues in nearby cities and distant countries and connections made here will set the stage for future cooperation among all nations.
At yesterday's anniversary ceremony, I gave an example of this, and I would like to share it with you as well.
In 2001, officers from Macedonia and Albania trained together at the Academy. Some time later, the Macedonian and Albanian police agencies needed to negotiate a cross-border agreement. Because of the sensitive and complex issues involved, both sides anticipated that it would take a long time to reach an agreement.
Instead, it took one day. Why? Because there were ILEA graduates on each of the negotiation teams. Because the relationships they had formed at the Academy meant they were not meeting for the first time at the negotiating table.
There are countless stories from officers who met at the Academy and who called on each other months and years later for assistance in developing a program or solving a case. And so I encourage all of you to reach out to one another once you have left the Academy. Build strong relationships with your colleagues at home. As you rise through the ranks, help younger officers to connect with colleagues in other countries. And above all, maintain the bonds of partnership forged here. I am told that Romania has a strong and active network of ILEA graduates. I hope those of you from Hungary and Croatia will also strengthen the ILEA networks in your countries.
These partnerships are the keys to defeating international crime and terrorism. In this era of globalization, working side-by-side is not just the best option, it is the only option. That is the mission of this Academy--to produce a generation of law enforcement officers who are equipped to address global threats through global partnerships, and who are committed to working together in pursuit of our common goals of peace and safety.
You, the graduates of the 50th Session of ILEA, now take up that mantle. ILEA has given you new perspectives, new practices, and new partners. I believe that many of us in law enforcement have chosen this profession because we believe in justice and democratic freedoms. We believe in upholding the rule of law and respecting the human dignity of those we are charged to protect.
Today, as much as at any other time in history, your fellow citizens depend upon you to be strong leaders. ILEA has prepared you for that. We have an example right here in this auditorium--Eugen Corciu attended one of the first sessions of ILEA. Today, he is the Deputy Inspector General of the Romanian National Police.
We send you out today to be the leaders of tomorrow. And we are confident that you will take what you have learned at this Academy and use it to promote security and protect freedom at home.
I want to leave you with the words of American President John F. Kennedy: "We...in this generation, are--by destiny rather than choice--the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility, that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint."
In this global age, that is the role of law enforcement officers around the world. You are now the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. But you are here by choice rather than destiny. You have chosen to serve your nations. You have chosen to join hands with colleagues around the world to guard peace and protect freedom throughout the world. You have answered the call to service, and the world will be a safer place because of you.