- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- 100th Anniversary Commemoration National Building Museum
- Washington, D.C.
- July 17, 2008
Good morning. It is truly an honor to be here today to mark this significant milestone in the Bureau’s history and to share in the celebration of this occasion—the 100th anniversary of the FBI.
My thanks to Attorney General Mukasey and the many other distinguished guests for joining us today.
My special thanks, also, to Directors Webster, Sessions, and Freeh, for being here. Together, they represent three decades at the Bureau in which we saw a strong emphasis on white collar crime and organized crime, as well as counterintelligence cases. We witnessed innovations in crime-solving technologies and a dramatic expansion of our international program.
But let’s go back a bit further in history.
One hundred years ago, Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte organized a group of investigators under the Justice Department. In July, 1908, the Bureau of Investigation opened its doors.
The first Bureau employees numbered just 34—nine detectives, thirteen civil rights investigators, and twelve accountants. They investigated, among other things, antitrust matters, land fraud, and copyright violations.
Compare that to today’s FBI—a threat-based, intelligence-driven, technologically-supported agency of over 30,000 employees—employees who are working in 56 field offices and 61 offices overseas. Employees who are combatting crimes as diverse as terrorism, corporate fraud, cyber crime, human trafficking, and money laundering. J. Edgar Hoover would have been proud.
Today’s FBI is often, and I believe accurately, described as one of the world’s few intelligence and law enforcement agencies combined.
The culture of the FBI is now, and for the past 100 years has been, a culture of hard work and dedication to protecting the United States, no matter what the challenges.
In the wake of the September 11 attacks, it became clear that the FBI’s number one priority must be the prevention of another terrorist attack. We refocused our mission, revised our priorities, and realigned our work force. We strengthened lines of communication between the Bureau and our partners in the global intelligence and law enforcement community. And we are now stronger and better equipped to confront the threats we face today.
Today’s FBI continues to reflect and embody its motto—Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. It is a motto emblazoned on the FBI Seal. And it is worth its weight in gold.
For the past 100 years, the men and women of the FBI have lived out their commitment to Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. It is precisely because they have done so that the Bureau has the reputation that it enjoys today.
Even so, these are qualities that need to be constantly burnished by the men and women of the Bureau, to ensure they do not rust for lack of use.
For most of us, fidelity is faithfulness to an obligation, trust, or duty.
For the men and women of the FBI, fidelity also means fidelity to country. It means fidelity to justice and the law, fidelity to the Constitution, fidelity to equality and liberty.
Bravery is the quality of being willing to face danger, pain, or trouble; to remain unafraid. Bravery is not merely the act of rushing in where others flee. It is the quiet, diligent dedication to facing down those who would do us harm and bring them to justice.
The well-known tennis champion and social humanitarian, Arthur Ashe, once said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
Bravery is the capstone in the stories of Special Agents Rodney Miller, John O’Neill, and Lenny Hatton. On September 11, Miller and O’Neill went up, not down, the stairs of the North Tower of the World Trade Center to help others get out. Rodney Miller went all the way up to the 86th floor, offering assistance to fire and police personnel on the scene. Through radio transmissions, Lenny Hatton reported the crash of the second plane, and then assisted with evacuation efforts. Neither he nor John O’Neill survived.
And we will never know how many lives were saved as a result of their and the other first responders’ extraordinary bravery on that day.
Although their stories are unique, their bravery is repeated by the men and women of the FBI working each and every day around the country, and around the world.
Whether cracking down on public corruption or white collar crime that corrodes the public trust. Or capturing criminals who exploit children on the Internet, or commit violent crime, hate crime, organized crime, espionage, or terrorism.
Such bravery can be seen in the story of Jay Tabb, a member of our Hostage Rescue Team. Tabb received the FBI Star after being shot and seriously wounded during the arrest of a wanted fugitive. Just months later, during a search of a terrorist safe-house in Afghanistan, he was injured again by a suicide bomber. Despite his own injuries, he rescued four wounded soldiers. After each incident his first question was, how soon can I get back to work with my team?
Bravery can be seen in the story of Port Authority Police Detective Tom McHale, who has served on our Newark Joint Terrorism Task Force since 1995. The morning of September 11, McHale was blocks from the World Trade Center when he heard the first plane fly overhead. He raced to the scene to assist with evacuations and rescues. He was caught in both building collapses and injured. And yet as a trained ironworker, McHale spent the next weeks in the rubble cutting through steel and recovering bodies. He worked at Ground Zero for 12 hours a day, before reporting for duty on the Joint Terrorist Task Force to help with thousands of leads.
Bravery can be seen in the work of Jennifer Keenan, the first female Special Agent to be stationed in Pakistan and Yemen, and who helped carry out dangerous missions in both of those countries. Along with Tom McHale, Keenan was part of the FBI team in Pakistan who captured Al Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaidah.
Bravery can be seen in the story of Special Agent Bruce Bennett and three other agents, who were seriously wounded just last March in a terrorist bombing, also in Pakistan.
And it can be seen in the story of Walter Walsh, our oldest living Special Agent, who survived shootouts with gangsters in the 1930s.
And it so happens that each of these individuals is with us today. Would you all please stand so we can recognize you?
And yet there is no shortage of heroes in the FBI. I am certain there are also many unsung heroes with us in the audience today—heroes whose stories may never be told. We honor them as well.
For the men and women of the FBI, bravery is reflected not only in the physical courage often necessary in the job. It can be seen in the courage of conviction, in the courage to act with wisdom in the face of fear, and in the courage it takes to admit mistakes and move forward.
This brings us to the third quality that defines the Bureau, and that is integrity. It is the quality of being of sound moral principle; uprightness, honesty, and sincerity.
For the men and women of the FBI, integrity is reflected in all that we say and we do—in honesty, in keeping promises, in fairness, in respect for others, and in compassion.
Integrity is, in some ways, the most important of the three words that make up our motto. Integrity is the fire by which fidelity and bravery are tested.
Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity set the expectations for behavior; they set a standard for our work. More than just a motto, for the men and women of the FBI, Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity is a way of life.
And it has always been a way of life. It has been said of FBI employees that they stand on the shoulders of their predecessors. Indeed, we do.
And while it is a time of change in the FBI, our values will never change.
It is not enough to stop the terrorist—we must stop him while maintaining his civil liberties.
It is not enough to catch the criminal—we must catch him while respecting his civil rights.
It is not enough to prevent foreign countries from stealing our secrets—we must prevent that from happening while still upholding the rule of law.
The rule of law, civil liberties, and civil rights—these are not our burdens. They are what make us better. And they are what have made us better for the past 100 years.
The men and women of the FBI today are part of history in the making. We understand that we have been passed a legacy and that it remains our responsibility to both build on and to pass on that legacy to those who will succeed us.
John F. Kennedy once said, “…when at some future date the high court of history sits in judgment on each of us…our success or failure, in whatever office we hold, will be measured by the answers to four questions: First, were we truly men of courage? Second, were we truly men of judgment? Third, were we truly men of integrity? Finally, were we truly men of dedication?”
The men and women of the FBI, here and around the world, past and present, can resoundingly answer yes to each of these questions. That is because they live our motto each and every day.
Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity remain the attributes of an organization with a proud history of distinguished service to the nation. And each of us is indeed honored to be part of that.
With Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity defining every FBI employee, we stand fully ready to face the challenges of the next century.
Thank you all again for being here with us today and God bless.