- John S. Pistole
- Deputy Director
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Dedication of the San Antonio Field Office
- San Antonio, Texas
- February 19, 2008
Good afternoon. Thank you, Ralph, for that introduction, and thanks to all of you for being here today. Director Mueller sends his apologies for not being able to be here today as planned, but it is truly an honor for me to be here in his place.
I want to take a moment to thank all the local officials and members of the law enforcement community who are here today. Congressman Rodriguez and Councilwoman Cisneros, thank you for being here today. Chief McManus and Sheriff Tafolla, it’s great to have you with us as well.
And finally, I want to recognize a number of individuals whose dedication helped guide this project every step of the way:
- Developers Mark and David Harris—who are now working on building their fourth FBI office;
- Robert O’Neil and his contracting team;
- Scott Armey, Mary Saponari, Ronald Lane, and Eric Janovsky from GSA;
- Project Manager Brenda King and her team from FBI Headquarters; and
- Diana Ornelas, the Project Manager here in San Antonio, and her team.
From initial designing to last-minute wiring, we appreciate all you have done to guide this effort and to bring all of us here today. Today’s ceremony is the culmination of years of hard work, and more than a little patience!
Constructing a facility like this for the federal government presents unique challenges. We did not just need more room for us to work—we needed more room for our partners in state and local law enforcement and intelligence to work. We did not just need more physical space—we needed more secure space so that together, we can analyze and act on the critical intelligence that allows us to identify and disrupt both terrorist and criminal threats. And we did not just need basic technological capabilities—we needed state-of-the-art technology and secure, speedy connectivity.
Within these walls, we have all that, and more. And not a moment too soon, because the challenges we face have never been greater. We live in a world where our security is not assured by distance from our enemies, and where threats grow more complex and interconnected every day.
As many of you may know, the FBI is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. The Bureau was created because criminals had begun to take advantage of the latest technology—the automobile—to cross state lines and evade local law enforcement. Because of its national jurisdiction, FBI agents could chase them across state lines and bring them to justice.
The world of threats has changed dramatically since then. One hundred years later, we confront sophisticated spies, hi-tech hackers, and ruthless terrorists. We face corrupt corporations, violent gangs, and global crime rings. Our enemies may be based anywhere in the world, or anywhere on the World Wide Web.
The San Antonio office, which was established around 1910, has witnessed this evolution in crime and terrorism, and has successfully responded to it. Over the years, agents and professional staff in the San Antonio office have chased down gangsters, dismantled organized crime, and brought to justice corrupt public officials, child predators, and Top Ten fugitives.
These efforts did not come without a price. Forty years ago, San Antonio Special Agent Douglas Price was shot and killed not far from here. He was slain trying to apprehend a fugitive who was wanted for car theft and homicide. He had only been on the job a year. We especially remember Special Agent Price today, and all law enforcement officers who have given their lives in the line of duty.
The San Antonio office also investigated the infamous assassination of Judge John H. Wood Jr., the first federal judge killed in the 20th century. Judge Wood had earned the nickname “Maximum John” for his willingness to stand up to criminals and impose harsh sentences on drug dealers. He was shot outside his home in 1979.
The shooting prompted a huge investigation, known inside the Bureau as “Major Case 21” or “WOODMUR.” It was the most costly and intensive investigation in the FBI’s history up to that point. It concluded with the conviction of Charles Harrelson in the courtroom of Judge William Sessions, who later became the fourth Director of the FBI.
No matter what threats America has faced, the FBI has stood at the ready. And we still do. Today, our highest priority is preventing another terrorist attack. Over the past six-and-a-half years, we have worked extremely hard, both at home and abroad, to strengthen our ability to detect and deter terrorism. And we have made substantial progress.
Yet even as we continue to fight terrorism, we are also combating espionage, cyber crime, public corruption, white collar crime, and violent crime. We are confronting these threats from Washington to Warsaw, and from San Antonio to Sarajevo.
Recently, investigations by the FBI and our partners here in San Antonio have led to the indictments of 34 members of the Mexican Mafia prison gang, and 16 individuals for massive mortgage fraud. And since March 1 of last year to today, the San Antonio division has made 35 arrests on public corruption charges.
These successes are a credit to the men and women of the San Antonio office and our counterparts in federal, state, and local law enforcement, and in the intelligence community. They are the product of better intelligence, advanced technology, and stronger partnerships—the three elements that we need if we are to defeat 21st-century threats.
This new office gives us the space and security to build on those three elements, and bring about many more successes.
The agents, analysts, and translators of the San Antonio Field Intelligence Group now work in a secure space with secure connectivity to dozens of information systems. They can collect and analyze highly sensitive intelligence, and then transmit it to our partners.
Our new Emergency Operations Center will give us the technology we need to run high-profile or complex investigations. From secure phone lines to state-of-the-art computers, the Emergency Operations Center will be critical to our ability to process and disseminate urgent information.
And with nearly 150,000 square feet of office space, the new building ensures that we have ample room for all our partners. In the old building, a task force officer had a better chance of winning Mega Millions than of finding a spare desk or computer. But we cannot achieve our mission without working as one team with our counterparts. This building ensures that we can do just that. The multi-agency Joint Terrorism Task Force is now housed here, as are various other task forces. And almost every squad has representatives from federal, state, and local law enforcement who now work right here beside our agents and analysts.
Sam Houston once said, “Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may.” The same is true of all Americans. We will continue to resist every source of oppression—whether corrupt CEOs, gang members, or terrorists.
Whenever the safety and freedom of the American people have been threatened, law enforcement has always answered the call to serve and protect. As the threats continue to change, and our enemies continue to adapt, so will we.
Like this building, today’s FBI is stronger, more flexible, and more modern—able to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.
As we dedicate this building, we know that ultimately, the key to meeting these challenges lies not in new facilities or new technologies, but rather in the men and women of the law enforcement and intelligence communities. We will rely on their commitment to our mission, their faithfulness to the Constitution, and their devotion to our founding principles of liberty and justice for all.
And it is on this foundation that we will build lasting security for the United States—for this generation, and for generations to come.