Home News Speeches Critical Partnerships: Fighting Crime Together
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • October 17, 2006

Thank you for that introduction. It is good to be here with you today.

It has been five years since we met in Toronto, just a few short weeks after September 11, 2001. I would like to use this anniversary as an opportunity to evaluate our progress since then.

When we met those five years ago, you told us that you needed more direct lines of communication, better information sharing and stronger relationships. We have made a great deal of progress toward those shared goals, and we are building on that progress for the future. Today, the FBI is better coordinated. We are operating more strategically, and we are more intelligence-driven.

I want to talk to you about those developments in three specific areas: first, our priorities and the balance between our criminal and national security responsibilities; second, how technology is helping all of us do our jobs better; and third, how we are working more closely together as partners and why we need to continue to work together to succeed.

In the wake of September 11, two issues were critical to the FBI: We had to address the threat of terrorism, and we had to grow.

To do that we established new priorities. Overnight, the prevention of another attack became our most important mission. We doubled the number of agents and analysts devoted to stopping the next attack, and we enhanced and reformed our intelligence capabilities.

Since then, we have continued to improve our national security capabilities across the board. Much of our progress has been the result of expertise gained over the past 98 years of our existence—in the criminal arena, with organized crime, and in counterintelligence through the development of sources and interview and surveillance techniques. Our experience has allowed us to build additional capabilities on an already strong foundation.

I fully understand there is concern that the FBI is moving away from its traditional criminal responsibilities. Indeed, the reality is we are not likely to go back to focusing primarily on drugs or bank robberies. We are currently at a 50-50 balance between criminal and national security programs, and I anticipate we will maintain that balance.

We remain ready and willing to help you keep our communities safe. While Americans justifiably worry about terrorism, it is crime that most directly touches their lives.

We have had considerable success with regard to our criminal priorities. In public corruption, for instance, there were approximately 1,100 prosecutions of public officials in the last two years. All of which sends the message that public corruption will not be tolerated.

In white collar crime, we have investigated Enron...HealthSouth...WorldCom...Qwest. Those names have been in the headlines over the past several years. Thousands of employees lost their jobs and their life savings. We have successfully investigated, prosecuted and put away the persons responsible for those frauds.

We know that violent crime is a growing concern. Over 16,000 men and women were murdered in the United States last year, alone, but statistics do not adequately tell of the devastation and the heartache that burden the victims of violent crime and their families.

I am particularly sensitive to this given my years prosecuting homicides in Washington, D.C. As the recent school shootings remind us, violence is perhaps the unfairest of crimes to which the most vulnerable members of our society often have no defense.

To address the growing problem of violence in our neighborhoods, we have increased the number of Safe Streets task forces. We now have over 700 FBI agents serving on those task forces, along with over 1,100 officers from state and local law enforcement. Last year, they made nearly 5,000 arrests, resulting in 1,500 convictions, and seized approximately $16 million in forfeited proceeds. A large portion of that money went to state and local participating agencies—police departments such as yours.

Together, we face significant challenges in the criminal arena. Much of this growing violence is connected to gangs. It is a plague no longer relegated to only our largest cities. In the past month alone, investigations into gang activity have brought arrests in Tampa, Florida; Atlanta, Georgia; Richmond, Virginia; and Kansas City, Missouri.

Currently, we have over 1,200 investigations into gangs and gang-related activities. Last year, we established the MS-13 National Gang Task Force to confront the migration of gang violence. Soon after that, a joint five-country takedown led to the arrests of over 650 suspected MS-13 gang members throughout the United States, Mexico, El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala. Since then, we have been working with our partners in those countries to gather identifying data on MS-13 members, including hundreds of sets of fingerprints.

Beyond gangs, another top priority will always remain the abduction of children. The FBI is committed to protecting our children. Last year, we established eight regional Child Abduction Rapid Deployment teams, called “CARD” teams. They are made up of experienced agents, able to respond at a moment’s notice. Recently, a team deployed to St. Louis, Missouri, where it helped locate Abigail Wood, known as Baby Abby. Each of these teams can provide technological, analytical, behavioral, and investigative resources to help bring these cases to a speedy resolution. We must continue working together to bring each and every missing child safely home.

As we all recognize, cyber crime is a growing threat. Today, terrorists coordinate their plans cloaked in the anonymity of the Internet, as do violent sexual predators prowling chat rooms. According to our Cyber Division, nearly one-out-of-three computer users has experienced some type of negative incident. All too often, we find that before we can catch these offenders, Internet service providers have unwittingly deleted the very records that would help us identify these offenders and protect future victims. We must find a balance between the legitimate need for privacy and law enforcement’s clear need for access. Your resolution on records retention passed this morning will help put us on the right path.

Let me give you one recent example that highlights the vulnerabilities of our infrastructure in the cyber age. Some of the most secure systems throughout the world, including hundreds of computers at university, military and government sites within the United States suffered intrusions by an individual who called himself “Rebel.”

Two years of intensive Investigative work uncovered a network of suspects stretching from the United Kingdom to Romania. As it turns out, Rebel was a 16-year-old living in Sweden.

Just as technology can be a tool for criminals, it is also aiding our efforts to protect communities from crime and terrorism. Through technology, we are building stronger connections within the law enforcement community. We continue to provide support through a number of information-sharing efforts underway across the country, including our fingerprint, DNA, and criminal justice databases.

As you know, IAFIS supports law enforcement agencies by providing identification responses to electronic fingerprint submissions. Last year, IAFIS received over 23 million fingerprint submissions, almost 65 thousand per day. We are moving forward with the Next Generation Identification system, which will expand on the capabilities of IAFIS to include additional biometrics such as palm prints, tattoos, and scars, along with facial recognition. CODIS continues to refine its ability to gather evidence from tiny bits of DNA. So often, the evidence that is invisible to the eye is that which cracks the case.

Twenty-seven years ago, after a single mother of two went missing in California, her body was found raped, stabbed and dumped along the side of a road. No suspect was identified, and the case went cold. Four years ago, DNA from the victim’s clothing was entered into CODIS. Just last month, we had a hit on a convicted offender. Hours before his scheduled release, the man was identified and charged. As the woman’s grown daughter said, “this...puts a face on this evil person who’s been out there...all these years.” Today, that man is safely behind bars, and CODIS is moving ahead to upgrade its ability to solve crimes and identify missing persons well into the future.

In August of 2005, you provided a position paper on ways to enhance information sharing, and specifically, the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange—known as N-DEx. As it grows, this system will meet the challenges you laid out in order to be our collective system, benefitting the entire law enforcement community.

Just as IAFIS brought together disparate fingerprint systems into a common system, N-DEx will do the same for crime report data gathered by federal, state, and local agencies. It will correlate data from major FBI databases, such as NCIC, into a national system that will allow us to perform nationwide inquiries in a matter of seconds. N-DEx will allow officers in different cities to collaborate and pursue joint investigations through “virtual task forces” and “on-line investigative teams.”

Technology is helping us to do our jobs better, but the single most important improvement we have made is to build stronger domestic and international partnerships. Working together with our counterparts around the world we have made it more difficult for terrorists to operate by removing the sanctuary of Afghanistan and stemming the flow of terrorist funding. Unfortunately, terrorists have adapted to this new environment and continue to plan deadly attacks. Given the state of terrorism today, we can only achieve success through improved cooperation among the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

We are more frequently working on task forces. At the state and local level, we have increased the number of existing Joint Terrorism task forces to more than 100 throughout the country. Here, more than 3,200 federal, state and local officers meet, share information and conduct investigations. In the past year alone, JTTFs have stopped five terrorist plots in the United States.

Increasingly, we have seen homegrown terrorist cells springing up in communities such as Torrance, California; Toledo, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia. We could not have been successful in any of these investigations without the close assistance of our state and local partners.

In many terrorism cases, it is human intelligence that uncovers the plot. And it is police officers who have an ear to the ground. In the FBI, we have only 12,000 agents compared with nearly 800,000 law enforcement officers nationwide. You know your neighborhoods and your communities, and you are usually the first to notice if something is not right.

After all, it was keen observation that caused Nevada Highway Patrol Officer Eddie Dutchover to make a traffic stop, after he noticed the car had a paper tag. As he spoke to the driver, he observed a man in the backseat looking extremely nervous. His vigilance led to the arrest of Top Ten fugitive Warren Jeffs.

That is the same excellent police work that will catch the next terrorist before an attack occurs. Indeed, our best opportunity for preventing terrorist attacks is our ability to combine intelligence gathered through criminal and national security investigations.

Our efforts are aided at the national level by “fusion centers,” such as the Terrorist Screening Center. This is where traditional FBI Criminal Justice Information Services are leveraged to provide real-time, actionable intelligence to state and local law enforcement.

A police officer making a routine traffic stop becomes suspicious. That officer can get a response from NCIC in three to five seconds to determine whether the person stopped is a terrorist threat. The officer may be instructed to call the Terrorist Screening Center to obtain the latest terrorist information, if any exists, pertaining to that individual. Over the past year, the Terrorist Screening Center has handled nearly 30,000 such encounters.

As we work together more closely, three pillars of partnership support our growing cooperation. They are the National Academy, NEI and LEEDs. Through these training programs, we are building relationships, and we are building a stronger foundation for global law enforcement—a foundation based on communication, cooperation, and commitment.

Above all else, it is our partnership that has helped make this country more secure. I have enjoyed working with Mary Ann over the past year, and I look forward to working with Joe over the year to come.

Over the years, your participation in the Law Enforcement Advisory Group and the Police Executive Fellows program has provided the state and local perspective in some of our most sensitive operations. Your input has helped us to create stronger programs, from the National Security Branch to the National Gang Strategy.

Through information sharing and cooperation, we have built stronger relationships at all levels. These alliances have strengthened our network in the fight against both crime and terrorism.

Given the threats we face today, the FBI must serve this dual role. Because while every criminal is not a terrorist, every terrorist is a criminal. We have seen a group in North Carolina that smuggled cigarettes and used the profits to fund Hezbollah in Lebanon. Members of the Torrance terrorist cell robbed gas stations to raise money for training and weapons. Even the growing crime of identity theft is now linked to terrorism.

Threats to the United States are not only found inside the United States. Increasingly, we find ourselves participating in cases that have an international component. Better relationships not only give us early warnings, they allow us to coordinate better in the prevention of attacks.

Today, our network is stronger, and it has been the significant investment of you, our partners, that has made that possible. We, in the FBI, have had to prioritize our mission, and we will continue to prioritize in response to changing threats.

Given the nexus between crime and terrorism, our success in defeating both crime and terrorism depends upon cooperation. Stronger alliances mean that we are better positioned to prevent terrorist attacks. Yet, we must remain vigilant because our enemies have shown a remarkable ability to adapt and to improvise. We must be just as adaptable, just as flexible. And even then, given the freedoms we enjoy, it is not possible to make our country entirely secure.

I wish I could assure you that there would never be another terrorist attack on America, but I cannot. The world remains a perilous place. And let us not forget that what you do each day is still exceptionally dangerous. Too many law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty last year. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Michael Briggs of Manchester, New Hampshire, for the injuries he sustained yesterday.

I do know that if we continue to rely on each other—as partners, as colleagues, as friends—we will be safer. Thank you for helping us to ensure that, in this great nation, crime does not pay, corruption does not prosper and fear does not prevail.

Five years ago, after September 11, we talked about the unity that emerged among law enforcement around the country as we coordinated our response to the terrorist attacks on America. Given where we are today, I believe that unity has withstood the test of time.

Today, crime and terrorism know no boundaries. Yet, the FBI is part of a worldwide network of professionals dedicated to protecting our security. In the end, however, our success will not be owed solely to cooperation or technology or to any one tool in our arsenal.

Our success will be due to the indomitable quality of the human spirit, in which a sense of justice tells us right from wrong, a strength of purpose guides our mission and a steady resolve holds us to our course.

And so it is with this enduring spirit that we move forward, together. Thank you, and God bless you.

Just as technology can be a tool for criminals, it is also aiding our efforts to protect communities from crime and terrorism. Through technology, we are building stronger connections within the law enforcement community. We continue to provide support through a number of information-sharing efforts underway across the country, including our fingerprint, DNA, and criminal justice databases.

As you know, IAFIS supports law enforcement agencies by providing identification responses to electronic fingerprint submissions. Last year, IAFIS received over 23 million fingerprint submissions, almost 65 thousand per day. We are moving forward with the Next Generation Identification system, which will expand on the capabilities of IAFIS to include additional biometrics such as palm prints, tattoos, and scars, along with facial recognition. CODIS continues to refine its ability to gather evidence from tiny bits of DNA. So often, the evidence that is invisible to the eye is that which cracks the case.

Twenty-seven years ago, after a single mother of two went missing in California, her body was found raped, stabbed and dumped along the side of a road. No suspect was identified, and the case went cold. Four years ago, DNA from the victim’s clothing was entered into CODIS. Just last month, we had a hit on a convicted offender. Hours before his scheduled release, the man was identified and charged. As the woman’s grown daughter said, “this...puts a face on this evil person who’s been out there...all these years.” Today, that man is safely behind bars, and CODIS is moving ahead to upgrade its ability to solve crimes and identify missing persons well into the future.

In August of 2005, you provided a position paper on ways to enhance information sharing, and specifically, the Law Enforcement National Data Exchange—known as N-DEx. As it grows, this system will meet the challenges you laid out in order to be our collective system, benefitting the entire law enforcement community.

Just as IAFIS brought together disparate fingerprint systems into a common system, N-DEx will do the same for crime report data gathered by federal, state, and local agencies. It will correlate data from major FBI databases, such as NCIC, into a national system that will allow us to perform nationwide inquiries in a matter of seconds. N-DEx will allow officers in different cities to collaborate and pursue joint investigations through “virtual task forces” and “on-line investigative teams.”

Technology is helping us to do our jobs better, but the single most important improvement we have made is to build stronger domestic and international partnerships. Working together with our counterparts around the world we have made it more difficult for terrorists to operate by removing the sanctuary of Afghanistan and stemming the flow of terrorist funding. Unfortunately, terrorists have adapted to this new environment and continue to plan deadly attacks. Given the state of terrorism today, we can only achieve success through improved cooperation among the law enforcement and intelligence communities.

We are more frequently working on task forces. At the state and local level, we have increased the number of existing Joint Terrorism task forces to more than 100 throughout the country. Here, more than 3,200 federal, state and local officers meet, share information and conduct investigations. In the past year alone, JTTFs have stopped five terrorist plots in the United States.

Increasingly, we have seen homegrown terrorist cells springing up in communities such as Torrance, California; Toledo, Ohio; and Atlanta, Georgia. We could not have been successful in any of these investigations without the close assistance of our state and local partners.

In many terrorism cases, it is human intelligence that uncovers the plot. And it is police officers who have an ear to the ground. In the FBI, we have only 12,000 agents compared with nearly 800,000 law enforcement officers nationwide. You know your neighborhoods and your communities, and you are usually the first to notice if something is not right.

After all, it was keen observation that caused Nevada Highway Patrol Officer Eddie Dutchover to make a traffic stop, after he noticed the car had a paper tag. As he spoke to the driver, he observed a man in the backseat looking extremely nervous. His vigilance led to the arrest of Top Ten fugitive Warren Jeffs.

That is the same excellent police work that will catch the next terrorist before an attack occurs. Indeed, our best opportunity for preventing terrorist attacks is our ability to combine intelligence gathered through criminal and national security investigations.

Our efforts are aided at the national level by “fusion centers,” such as the Terrorist Screening Center. This is where traditional FBI Criminal Justice Information Services are leveraged to provide real-time, actionable intelligence to state and local law enforcement.

A police officer making a routine traffic stop becomes suspicious. That officer can get a response from NCIC in three to five seconds to determine whether the person stopped is a terrorist threat. The officer may be instructed to call the Terrorist Screening Center to obtain the latest terrorist information, if any exists, pertaining to that individual. Over the past year, the Terrorist Screening Center has handled nearly 30,000 such encounters.

As we work together more closely, three pillars of partnership support our growing cooperation. They are the National Academy, NEI and LEEDs. Through these training programs, we are building relationships, and we are building a stronger foundation for global law enforcement—a foundation based on communication, cooperation, and commitment.

Above all else, it is our partnership that has helped make this country more secure. I have enjoyed working with Mary Ann over the past year, and I look forward to working with Joe over the year to come.

Over the years, your participation in the Law Enforcement Advisory Group and the Police Executive Fellows program has provided the state and local perspective in some of our most sensitive operations. Your input has helped us to create stronger programs, from the National Security Branch to the National Gang Strategy.

Through information sharing and cooperation, we have built stronger relationships at all levels. These alliances have strengthened our network in the fight against both crime and terrorism.

Given the threats we face today, the FBI must serve this dual role. Because while every criminal is not a terrorist, every terrorist is a criminal. We have seen a group in North Carolina that smuggled cigarettes and used the profits to fund Hezbollah in Lebanon. Members of the Torrance terrorist cell robbed gas stations to raise money for training and weapons. Even the growing crime of identity theft is now linked to terrorism.

Threats to the United States are not only found inside the United States. Increasingly, we find ourselves participating in cases that have an international component. Better relationships not only give us early warnings, they allow us to coordinate better in the prevention of attacks.

Today, our network is stronger, and it has been the significant investment of you, our partners, that has made that possible. We, in the FBI, have had to prioritize our mission, and we will continue to prioritize in response to changing threats.

Given the nexus between crime and terrorism, our success in defeating both crime and terrorism depends upon cooperation. Stronger alliances mean that we are better positioned to prevent terrorist attacks. Yet, we must remain vigilant because our enemies have shown a remarkable ability to adapt and to improvise. We must be just as adaptable, just as flexible. And even then, given the freedoms we enjoy, it is not possible to make our country entirely secure.

I wish I could assure you that there would never be another terrorist attack on America, but I cannot. The world remains a perilous place. And let us not forget that what you do each day is still exceptionally dangerous. Too many law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty last year. Our thoughts and prayers are with Officer Michael Briggs of Manchester, New Hampshire, for the injuries he sustained yesterday.

I do know that if we continue to rely on each other—as partners, as colleagues, as friends—we will be safer. Thank you for helping us to ensure that, in this great nation, crime does not pay, corruption does not prosper and fear does not prevail.

Five years ago, after September 11, we talked about the unity that emerged among law enforcement around the country as we coordinated our response to the terrorist attacks on America. Given where we are today, I believe that unity has withstood the test of time.

Today, crime and terrorism know no boundaries. Yet, the FBI is part of a worldwide network of professionals dedicated to protecting our security. In the end, however, our success will not be owed solely to cooperation or technology or to any one tool in our arsenal.

Our success will be due to the indomitable quality of the human spirit, in which a sense of justice tells us right from wrong, a strength of purpose guides our mission and a steady resolve holds us to our course.

And so it is with this enduring spirit that we move forward, together. Thank you, and God bless you.

 
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