President Obama at FBI Headquarters on April 28, 2009

May 1, 2009

Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the day President Barack Obama visited FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Audio Transcript

Mr. Schiff: Hello I’m Neal Schiff and welcome to Inside the FBI, a weekly podcast about news, cases, and operations. Tuesday, April 28, 2009, the day President Barack Obama visited FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

President Obama: “Because of you, the men and women of the FBI, the American people are safer and our country is stronger. For that, you have my personal gratitude, but you also have the thanks of a grateful nation.”

Mr. Schiff: FBI Director Robert Mueller escorted President Obama to the courtyard at Headquarters where nearly 3,000 Bureau employees waited under a hot sun and very warm temperatures.

Director Mueller: “ Mr. President, on Inauguration Day, we were all honored that you stepped out of the motorcade right here in front of FBI Headquarters to walk past our house on the way to your house. And we are just as honored to have you with us today.

“This may not be the most beautiful building in Washington, but it is one of the most important. It is the hub of the organization charged with protecting America from crime and terrorism, while also protecting the civil liberties we all cherish.

“Though this may be the FBI’s Headquarters, there are thousands of FBI employees spread throughout the country and the world. Wherever they are stationed, they represent the FBI’s tradition of fidelity, bravery, and integrity. It is a tradition that goes back more than 100 years to President Theodore Roosevelt.”

Mr. Schiff: Director Mueller said that threats are more diverse and global, ranging from espionage to public corruption to violent crime.

Director Mueller: “ Yet today’s FBI is uniquely equipped to address these challenges.

“As threats continue to evolve, so too will the FBI. But what has never changed—and will never change—are our values.

“For over 100 years, we have pledged to serve and to protect our nation and to do so while upholding the rights and the liberties guaranteed to every citizen under the Constitution. To the men and women of the Bureau, fidelity, bravery, and integrity are more than just a motto. They are a way of life.

“Mr. President, the men and women standing here today, and their colleagues throughout the world, share a dedication to defending freedom that is unparalleled. It is and has been the history of the FBI. And it is and will be the future of the FBI.

“We in the FBI appreciate the enormity of the task before you. We offer you our full support. And we will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard this nation.

“Thank you again for coming here today. It is an honor to introduce to you the men and women of the FBI—just as it is now my honor to introduce you to them.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States.”

President Obama: “Good afternoon everybody.

“Well, it is a good excuse for you to be outside on a nice day. And it is a great honor to be here with the men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Mr. Schiff: President Obama congratulated the FBI on its 100th anniversary in 2008.

President Obama: “ So last summer, the FBI celebrated its 100th anniversary. I think it’s safe to say that it has been an eventful century for the Bureau. Back in 1908, there were just 34 special agents reporting to Theodore Roosevelt’s Attorney General. Today, there are over 30,000 men and women who work for the FBI. Back in 1908, those agents worked out of one building here in Washington and today, you work here at FBI Headquarters and at field offices across America and in countries around the world.”

Mr. Schiff: The President told FBI employees that a lot has changed in the past hundred years, and that the FBI has a unique ability to change as the world evolves.

President Obama: “I n 1908, even the most imaginative of minds would have struggled to anticipate all of the challenges that would confront the Bureau—from bank robbers to bootleggers; from hate crimes to white collar criminals; from public corruption to counter-intelligence; from international terrorism to cyber threats.

“The challenges of the 21st century have called on us to think anew and to act anew. And in recent years, the Bureau has undergone a profound transformation to keep pace.

“With the attacks of 9/11, your mission became focused more than ever before on prevention—so we have the capacity to uncover terrorist plots before they take hold. With the spread of new technologies, you increasingly confront adversaries in unconventional areas—from transnational networks to cyber crimes and espionage. And through it all, you must continue to stay one step ahead of all who step outside of the law.

“I know that change means much more than moving around some boxes on an organizational chart. You’ve set new priorities. You’ve developed new capabilities. You’re working to use new technologies and teach new skills. And because these challenges cross borders—both seen and unseen—you’ve developed new partnerships abroad while sharing information more effectively with law enforcement here at home.”

Mr. Schiff: President Obama went on to say that the FBI, as both an intelligence agency and a law enforcement agency, faces a long battle, in his words, “against a determined adversary.”

President Obama: “We know that al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution or by allegiance to anything other than a hateful ideology and a determination to kill as many innocents as possible. But what makes the United States of America so special is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and ideals, not just when it’s easy, but when it’s hard. We’ve been called to serve in such a time.

“And I have to say that I am heartened by what I see here today. Each of you has made the decision to serve your country, and you are dong so at a critical time. None of us can know with certainty what the future will hold. But I do know that the FBI can and will continue to adapt to new dangers; that you will be critical in leading the way in keeping this country safe. And we are counting on you.”

Mr. Schiff: The President said there’s much to celebrate from the FBI’s first 100 years, 1908 to 2008.

President Obama: “We remember notorious criminals who have been caught and public corruption that’s been ended and civil rights that have been protected and terrorist plots that have been uncovered. None of that would have been possible without the work of men and women like you, and we are calling on you again.

“Behind me is the motto that you carry forward and that your Director alluded to— Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.

“These are more than just words etched into a building—they are a signal of the character of the men and women who work here. And I am confident that if you stay true to those words, no matter what challenge may come our way, we’ll be able to look back a hundred years from now with the satisfaction that you advanced the cause of America’s security and America’s ideals in your time. What an enormous gift that is to give back to your country. Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.”

Mr. Schiff: A grand day it was having President Barack Obama visit FBI Headquarters. Thank you Mr. President. There’s more on the Internet, including pictures. Surf to That concludes our show. Thanks for listening. I’m Neal Schiff of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs.

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