Home News Speeches Law Enforcement Cooperation and the War on Terror
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • 110th Annual Conference of the International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • October 24, 2003

Thank you. It is good to be here among friends. The friendship between the FBI and the International Association of Chiefs of Police goes back more than 75 years. You may not be aware, but J. Edgar Hoover's first speech, after becoming Director of the FBI, was to the IACP. As I stand here today, I cannot help but think that the FBI's first director would hardly recognize today's Bureau. We have changed so much over the last 95 years of our existence. And perhaps the most important of these changes has been in the evolution of our relationship with state and local law enforcement.

Today, I want to discuss with you several of our joint achievements over the last couple of years. And I also want to look at how the FBI continues to change to better work with you, and with our other partners in law enforcement.

By working together over the last two years, we have identified, disrupted and neutralized hundreds of terrorist threats. We have broken up terrorist cells from Buffalo to Bali, from Seattle to Singapore, and from Tampa to Thailand.

We have deprived al Qaeda of its sanctuary in Afghanistan -- a huge loss to al Qaeda. Together, law enforcement and the intelligence communities have detained thousands of al Qaeda operatives. More than two-thirds of its senior leadership have either been killed or captured. We have conducted over 70 investigations into terrorist money trails, and frozen more than 125 million dollars in assets. Because of our efforts al Qaeda has been disrupted and diminished, and there is greater security in the United States. And when I speak of our efforts, I mean the efforts of all of us in law enforcement.

But the war is not over. Terrorist groups continue to evolve and threaten us in new ways. While America has not seen another attack, overseas it is another story. Repeated terrorist attacks around the world have been stark reminders of the deadly threat posed by those with the desire and the ability to kill Americans.

Although we have made progress, terrorism is still present in the United States. Not one of our 56 field offices has gone without a threat. Al Qaeda is working hard to recruit new members and continuing to plot attacks on American targets at home and abroad.

In our lifetimes, the world has changed dramatically. Since the end of the Cold War, borders between countries have opened. People and goods move freely from place to place. Technology has made communication and travel much faster.

As the world has changed, so have the threats. Nearly a century ago, the FBI was created because crime had begun to cross county and state lines. Today, criminal activity not only crosses state lines, it traverses back and forth over international boundaries at breakneck speed. And those crimes are as diverse as terrorism and corporate fraud; identity theft and illegal weapons trade; money laundering and the trafficking of humans.

Dangerous asymmetrical threats have emerged. Most significant is the potential for a terrorist organization or hostile nation to obtain weapons of mass destruction. And certain foreign powers are working harder than ever to penetrate our government and are targeting our corporations. As the value of proprietary information and new technology increases, so do the opportunity and motivation for economic espionage. We are seeing a rise in cyber crimes such as denial of service attacks as well as traditional crimes that have migrated online, such as identity theft and child pornography.

There is a growing convergence of these threats both old and new. We see organized crime laundering money for drug groups. Drug groups selling weapons to terrorists. Terrorists committing white-collar frauds to raise money for their operations.

An example of this occurred last year in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Sheriff's Deputy Bob Fromme worked with ATF to uncover a cigarette smuggling ring. Police Detective Ken DeSimone, a charter member of the local JTTF, assisted in the joint operation, known as "Smokescreen." Working closely with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the task force linked the cigarette smugglers to a terrorist cell. Its members were found guilty of visa fraud, and guilty of financial crimes committed to raise money for Hizbollah in Lebanon.

We face an increasingly complex criminal landscape. Experts say that with globalization, the role of nation/states is diminishing along with their ability to effectively respond to criminal conduct. To confront this dangerous new landscape, law enforcement must change.

We in the FBI are changing to meet these new threats. For starters, we have shifted our mission and our priorities to protect Americans by preventing attacks -- both terrorist and criminal. Immediately following 9/11, our top three operational priorities became counterterrorism, counterintelligence and cyber security.

To effectively confront these new threats, the FBI began to use its resources strategically. We focused on areas where we brought something special to the table. For example, the FBI has a unique jurisdiction in both public corruption and civil rights. Therefore these remained high priorities. We also continue to have a role in attacking organized crime, white collar crime and significant violent crime.

To meet the challenges of the future, the law enforcement community must become more international. We must continue to expand our capability to address crimes that cross borders. Our 46 Legal Attaché offices, or "Legats," in countries around the world provide the network for this international cooperation. Through them, the FBI shares information with our international law enforcement and intelligence partners, and assists our international counterparts in investigations. The Legats are vital to the FBI's counterterrorism efforts and to addressing international crime.

The number of cases with an international nexus is growing. As an example, we recently had a homicide case in Kirkland, Washington. The local police had a suspect and blood evidence, but no body. They needed to obtain DNA from the victim's parents to make their case. Because the parents lived in Indonesia, the detective contacted our Seattle office for help. They, in turn, contacted the FBI Legat in Singapore who, through the Indonesian police, arranged a meeting with the victim's parents. The DNA from the parents confirmed the killer. As a result of this collaboration, justice was served. Kim Mason was convicted of Aggravated Murder in the 1st Degree.

We see a growing sense of international cooperation. While in the Middle East, during meetings with heads of state, law enforcement and intelligence agencies, all assured me of their commitment to working together to fight both terrorism and international crime. The visible devastation from terrorist attacks in Riyadh and Morocco helped all of us recognize that we could no longer wait to meet at crime scenes. Our relationships must be closer and our cooperation stronger before attacks can be launched.

We are making progress. Last May, after nine Americans lost their lives in the bombing in Riyadh, the Saudi government allowed the FBI to send a large forensic team to assist in their investigation. There was unprecedented cooperation. One reason was that the FBI had trained more than 100 Saudi police in the National Academy. We were using the same methods of evidence collection and the same terminology. As they told us, "We were taught together, now we can work together."

And at the end of the day, as we look at this changed world, it does not matter whether we prosecute a case in the U.S. courts or help the Saudis prosecute their own case in their own country. What matters is that justice is served, and we are one step closer to defeating terrorism.

At home, we needed to build bridges. Since 9/11, we have been working to strengthen our partnerships at all levels.

The men and women of the FBI and the IACP have helped each other in countless investigations. This year, two members of local law enforcement - one a police officer and one a deputy sheriff - helped take two fugitives from justice off our "Top Ten" most wanted list.

For five years, Eric Rudolph evaded the FBI. You found him. Murphy N. Carolina Police Officer Jeffrey Postell, on the job at 3:30 in the morning, spotted Rudolph rummaging through a dumpster and made the arrest.

In Arkansas, Searcy County Deputy Sheriff Lang Holland stopped murder suspect James Singleton for driving without a license plate. Deputy Holland found a shotgun in the trunk of the car. And after a year on the run, Singleton was arrested. Our Lab was able to match his fingerprints, and now Singleton is facing capitol murder charges for the brutal murder of his adopted parents in Dallas.

I ask that we honor both of these officers for the work they did. Our thanks to Deputy Holland and Officer Postell.

And we are continuing to work together in the fight against terrorism. We have expanded the local Joint Terrorism Task Forces from 35 to 84. We understand that you are the eyes and ears in communities across the country -- make that countries across the world. Your officers are the front line against an enemy who can hide in any one of our communities -- or in any one of our countries.

We continue to strengthen relationships between the FBI and the law enforcement community. Our new Office of Law Enforcement Coordination, headed up by Louis Quijas, has helped open the lines of communication, and we have heard what you have said.

You said you needed more security clearances for your JTTF members. Our Security Division created a unit entirely dedicated to processing clearances for law enforcement executives and JTTF members. Since 9/11, over 2000 chiefs and sheriffs have received their requested clearances. Over 1200 officers have received top secret clearances.

You have asked that the training we provide be up-to-date. The Training Division at Quantico is working to ensure that our training remains cutting edge and appropriate to your needs. We have working groups, on which many of you now serve, that are advising us so that we can continue to improve the National Academy, NEI and LEEDs.

You have asked to hear updates from us before you see them in the media. We are working with the Department of Homeland Security on the next phase of the Alert Notification System. It will be available to thousands of JTTF members across the country. Before long, you will get pop-up messages on computers - like instant messaging, but in a secure environment. It will also reach your cell phones or pagers.

You said you need better information. We all understand the importance of intelligence. We are working to prioritize what we disseminate and make sure it is information you can act upon.

For that, we set up the Office of Intelligence. Over the years, America built an intelligence capability perfect for a world of nation/states and for winning the Cold War. Now the world is changed.

Critical to preventing future terrorist attacks is improving our intelligence capability. We have increased the number of analysts working to produce a better intelligence product, and we are sharing it more effectively with our partners.

I also would like to recognize the IACP for your hard work in spearheading the National Intelligence Sharing Project to improve the capacity of local law enforcement. The plan will serve as a blueprint as we continue to develop our overall national strategy for sharing information.

We have begun to analyze not only what we are collecting, but what we should be collecting. This will allow us to identify existing gaps and determine how they can be closed.

Success requires that we use the intelligence we have gathered effectively. In prosecuting La Cosa Nostra, together we developed sophisticated intelligence- gathering abilities, using informants and surveillance techniques. These are the same methods used to collect intelligence on terrorists. And we have the law enforcement options to act on that information. We no longer work intelligence as a case, we work intelligence into every case. Intelligence is key to our future success in the war against terrorism.

Finally, to improve our capabilities, we must continue to develop our technology. New combined databases and analytical tools are helping us draw patterns and connections from a sea of data in ways we could not prior to September 11.

The tremendous changes which have resulted from the war on terrorism lead us to ask the question, where will we be in five years? Although it is impossible to state with certainty, what is clear is that the trends toward globalization and international cooperation will continue.

The time when a police department or a sheriff's office or the FBI can act on its own is gone. We must rely on each other for what each brings to the table, whether that be manpower, technology, or expertise. The future will require law enforcement to work together with seamless coordination.

When former Director Hoover made his first speech in 1925, he said that any effort to successfully combat modern crime must be "founded on the rock of universal cooperation." That is even more true today than it was back in 1925. We are exceptionally proud to work with you as partners in making America and the world a safer place in which to live.

Thank you, and God bless you.

 
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