- Robert S. Mueller, III
- Federal Bureau of Investigation
- International Association of Chiefs of Police
- Chicago, Illinois
- October 24, 2011
So…here we are again.
Last year, you graciously presented me with the Lifetime Achievement Award—I brought it here with me today just in case you want to take it back.
Last year, before this session, Ron Ruecker told me that the IACP had planned to give this award. I remarked that I did not feel old enough to have earned it. To which Ron replied, “Do not underestimate yourself. You are old enough to have earned this award 10 years ago.”
I will admit to feeling a bit nostalgic last year, believing it was my final meeting with you. I fully intended to finish my term last month.
I understand that Dan Rosenblatt thought he too would be leaving earlier this year. Dan, I must ask you, where did the two of us go wrong? Over the 10 years I have been Director, Dan has provided invaluable guidance to the FBI and to me. Dan, I want to thank you for your service these past 25 years, and tell you that we wish you all the best in the years to come.
I also want to take a minute to congratulate Bart Johnson, your new executive director. Dan has set the bar high. But we have worked with Bart for years and we look forward to continuing and expanding the good relationship we have with him as well as the IACP.
I will say, when the president asked whether I would be willing to continue as FBI Director for another two years, I sought advice from many people, because I believe a leader is often the last to know when it is time to go.
Three considerations persuaded me to extend my term. First, it would be hard, at any time, to leave the FBI family, and indeed, the larger law enforcement family. I am lucky to work with such talented and dedicated people.
Second, as each of you knows, there is nothing more rewarding than public service.
Lastly, we in the FBI do have unfinished business. We must continue to improve our technology, expand our intelligence capabilities, and adapt to meet new challenges. I did not want to miss the opportunity to be part of that.
With the 10-year anniversary of September 11, it is only natural to take a look at where we are today and where we need to be down the road. As you all know, in the wake of September 11, national security became our top priority. We shifted thousands of agents to counterterrorism and began a complete overhaul of our intelligence program. Many of you have experienced similar shifts in mission and priorities.
Change is nothing new for the FBI. Throughout its history, the Bureau has evolved to meet emerging threats. After the Cold War, we reassigned hundreds of agents from counterintelligence to violent crime. During the 1990s, we directed resources to combat white-collar and organized crime.
The evolution of the Bureau after September 11 has been the latest challenge. We have had to rethink the entire way we do business. But along with significant changes in our priorities and resources have come solid partnerships, closer connections, and shared goals.
Today, we are all stronger and smarter. We in the FBI know that we do not fight our battles alone. We are all in this together. We, along with the Chicago Police Department, are taking on gangs. We, along with the New Jersey State Police, are investigating criminal syndicates. We, along with the Broward Sheriff’s Office, are tracking down child predators.
I want to turn for a moment to counterterrorism. The threat we face today is complex and fluid. We are seeing more sources of terrorism, a wider array of terrorist targets, greater cooperation among terrorist groups, and an evolution in tactics and communication.
On September 29, we arrested an Iranian-American for his alleged participation in a plot, directed by elements of the Iranian government, to murder the Saudi Ambassador to the United States here on U.S. soil. As alleged in the complaint, this individual met with a man he believed to be part of a Mexican drug cartel to carry out the assassination. Though the facts of the case are unusual, to say the least, the impact to our national security—and to the international community—would have been very real, and many lives could have been lost. This case represents the full range of terrorist threats we face.
Osama bin Laden, Anwar Awlaki, and other key leaders are no longer in the picture. Nonetheless, al Qaeda remains the top terrorist threat.
Many of those affiliated with al Qaeda were born or educated in the United States. They understand our culture, our security protocols, and our vulnerabilities. They use the Internet, social media, and marketing skills to influence like-minded individuals, some of whom live in our communities.
These and other homegrown extremists do not only seek to hit high-profile targets in big cities. They may target smaller venues, such as a Christmas tree-lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon; a parade in Spokane, Washington; or a military recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland.
Together, we must continue to do everything we can to find and stop those who are plotting such attacks. At the same time, we are increasingly concerned with foreign espionage and cyber security.
Given the impact of globalization and the wide reach of the Internet, cyber attacks are becoming more commonplace, more dangerous, and more sophisticated. Our children are targeted by predators. Our citizens are targeted for fraud and identity theft. Our companies are targeted for insider information, and our universities for their research and development.
It is clear that cyber crime is not just a national security issue. That is why it is important that we continue to move forward in our understanding of all things cyber. Cyber crime will be a central concern of the Bureau in the years to come, because every program, every mode of communication, is both affected and infected by technology. We need new capabilities and partnerships that transcend jurisdictional borders to better address this threat.
We face significant threats to our national security. But as I have long said, crime on our streets is as much a threat to our overall security as terrorism, espionage, or cyber crime. We are making every effort to shift necessary resources back to our highest-priority criminal programs.
The latest UCR report indicates that violent crime continues to fall. Nonetheless, these statistics do not represent every community or every street corner. We have witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by street crime. Communities where children cannot play outside for fear of being struck by a stray bullet. Areas where it is simply not safe to walk at night. Instances when thieves have plundered the life savings of innocent individuals through fraud, corruption, and greed.
As you know, gang crime remains a growing problem. By some estimates, gang members commit nearly 50 percent of violent crime in many of your cities and towns. Gangs have expanded to more mid-size communities. They have expanded the scope of their criminal activity, from human trafficking and prostitution to health care fraud and mortgage fraud. And they are becoming more violent.
In addition to gang violence, we face white collar -crime, crimes against children, and international organized crime.
You might not think that international organized crime impacts your community. But like gang activity, organized crime has evolved. We are not talking about “The Sopranos” or six guys sitting in a diner on Long Island. We are talking about sophisticated criminal enterprises that are stealing billions of dollars through human trafficking, health care fraud, computer intrusions, and copyright infringement. And our citizens feel the effects. They pay more for a gallon of gas, health care, mortgages, clothes, and food.
But we are not just concerned with the financial implications of organized crime. These groups corrupt public officials, infiltrate businesses, and support hostile foreign powers. If left unchecked, the resulting impact of organized crime could be dangerous—not only to our economy, but to our national security.
That is why we are building a long-term strategy to dismantle these organizations using Threat Focus Cells. We are using intelligence gathered by law enforcement and intelligence agencies to expand upon what we already know, and we are sharing this information with our partners around the world.
With these diverse threats, it is an understatement to say our plates are full. But we can never forget the life-threatening risks to officers and deputies on the street. We share your alarm about the sharp rise in law enforcement fatalities.
Last year, 56 law enforcement officers were killed as a result of adversarial action. And given this year’s statistics, that number may grow even higher. With each officer, deputy, or agent we lose, families, departments, and communities are forever changed. Please know that we in the FBI stand with you and we share your pain. Please also be assured that we will do everything in our power to see that those who commit these crimes against our own are brought to justice.
On top of all of this, we confront new budget challenges. Ten years ago, the budget situation was different. While we in law enforcement have never been flush with money, federal, state, and local budgets were on the rise. Clearly this is no longer the case.
The threats we face are numerous and the dollars to fight these threats are few. Many of you have had to reduce your ranks due to cut-backs. But I want to thank you for your continued participation in task forces. These partnerships are invaluable.
The thin years may well continue, so we must build on the foundation we have set over the past decade. Still, our core message remains the same: relationships and information sharing are simply the best way to get the job done.
We are pushing to make an impact at the neighborhood level. Not just in the number of arrests and convictions, but with lower homicide rates, decreased gang activity, and fewer crimes against children.
And the only way to make this kind of impact is by working together, through task forces and fusion centers. Task forces here in Chicago, for example, have eroded the power and the influence of the Chicago mafia. It was a task force that cracked down on a street gang that was plaguing the city’s Northwest side. And it was a task force that arrested an Illinois man accused of distributing more than 1,000 images of child pornography.
Elsewhere, information put out by the Colorado Fusion Center led to the capture of the Dougherty Gang in Colorado Springs in August. And in New Jersey, crime mapping information provided by that state’s fusion center helped to break up a carjacking ring. This resulted in a substantial decrease in crime in just a few weeks.
We are also making use of improved technology to share information. N-DEx, for example, gives you the ability to search and link intelligence in real time. In Philadelphia, detectives were searching for a homicide suspect wanted in a home invasion. Using N-DEx, they found records indicating that he was living in Wilmington, Delaware. N-DEx not only helped these detectives to capture a wanted criminal, it alerted the SWAT team about the likely presence of a woman and children living in the suspect’s house.
In the past decade, we have all undergone great change. We have made shifts in the way we do business. As a result, we are stronger and we are smarter. We must continue to stand shoulder to shoulder, to work together and to train together, regardless of limited resources. And it is these relationships—these friendships—that will keep us safe and strong in the years to come.
Thank you for having me here today. God Bless.