Home News Speeches Chicago Past and Present: Adapting to New Threats
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • Dedication of the Chicago Field Office
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • September 12, 2006

Good morning. Thank you, Rob, for that introduction. It is an honor to be here. Thank you to all the local officials and members of law enforcement who are here. You are our friends and partners. In particular, I want to recognize Congressman Danny Davis; Chief Judges Joel Flaum, James Holderman, and Eugene Wedoff; U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald; State Police Director Larry Trent; Sheriff Kenneth Ramsey; and Police Chief Michael Holub.

I would also like to mention someone who could not make it today. Chicago Police Superintendent Phillip Cline wished to be here, but he is hosting a dedication for the "Gold Star Memorial" to honor those officers who gave their lives in the line of duty. For generations to come, that memorial will serve as a reminder to all of us of their ultimate sacrifice. I understand Mayor Daley is also expected there later, and we thank him for joining us.

We also have a number of former agents with us, including John Jarmul and his wife, Marie. John is the most senior retired special agent in the Chicago area. He served as an applicant recruiter in the 1950s. John, with all the hiring we are doing, we could sure use your help today. Truly, it means a great deal to us that you both are here as we dedicate a new Chicago Field Office of the FBI.

I also want to point out Alston Purvis, an associate professor at Boston University and son of legendary Special Agent Melvin Purvis. As the special-agent-in-charge of the Chicago office, Melvin Purvis fought some of the most notorious outlaws in our nation's history.

It was the era of John Dillinger and Baby Face Nelson, and gangsters like them, who avoided capture by fleeing over state lines. In response, the jurisdiction of the FBI was expanded to address the threat posed by a perceived gangster crime wave.

The world of threats has changed dramatically since the days of Dillinger and Nelson. Since then, globalization has made the world smaller. Air travel and technology have allowed crime and terrorism to expand far beyond local and national borders.

Today, hackers can target us from anywhere in the world. Terrorists use the Internet to spread their message of hate across the globe. And organized crime operates from Anchorage to Azerbaijan and from Tampa to Tokyo.

Among this world of threats, the prevention of another terrorist attack is our number one priority. We are particularly concerned about the threat of homegrown terrorist cells. Over the past five years, we have worked extremely hard—both at home and abroad—to strengthen our ability to detect and deter terrorism.

Even as we fight the war on terrorism, we face a wider range of threats than ever before. Today, we confront violent gangs, corrupt corporations, sexual predators of children, and sophisticated spies, just to mention a few.

To succeed against these new and evolving threats, we must work together as never before.

Let me give an example. A recent joint investigation with the Chicago Police Department is a model for improved cooperation between local law enforcement and the FBI. In 2004, the Chicago Police began investigating drug dealers at a notorious open air market. For decades, they had operated at a housing complex on the west side, known as "The Square."

The Chicago Police Department reached out to us, and together, we developed a strategy. The FBI would investigate the leadership and the organization of the "New Breeds" gang running the Square. The Chicago Police would continue to target the retail drug dealers there.

This joint investigation managed to tie low-level drug dealers to the gang's leadership. With our two agencies using each of our investigative strengths, the result was the largest single gang takedown in the history of the Chicago FBI.

On May 9 of this year, 53 gang members were arrested and charged with conspiracy to distribute, along with nine others who face related charges.

Improved cooperation extends across the board. To strengthen our efforts against terrorism, we have increased our Joint Terrorism Task Forces from 35 to over 100. In Chicago, 17 participating agencies work as a team to investigate each and every terrorism lead. The Joint Terrorism Task Force has broken up terrorist financing rings and made it harder for terrorists to operate.

We have also strengthened our partnerships with smaller police departments who are not on the JTTF. We have brought them on-line in a secure environment, and we are now regularly pushing intelligence out to them. Commander Jim Zimmerman, from the Niles Police Department, is heading our efforts to provide terrorism training and intelligence to over 300 area police departments.

In this case and many others, working with our partners has meant success. Together, we have taken violent gangs off the streets, disrupted hate crimes, captured software pirates, uncovered public corruption, and made it harder for terrorists to carry out their deadly plots.

I commend the men and women of the Chicago field office for doing their part to ensure that in this great nation crime does not pay, corruption does not prosper, and fear does not prevail.

The dedication of FBI employees is always a great source of pride for me. It is immensely gratifying to work with individuals who are committed to doing all they can to protect America. And I think there is not one of us who, when asked, is not proud to say we work at the FBI.

Today, America is safer, and Chicago is safer, than we were before the attacks of September 11. But we are still not safe.

Throughout our history, the FBI has always adapted to new threats. Today, the threat of terrorism requires us to be the best law enforcement and national security agency we can be. This new building, in the heart of the Medical District, is a flagship for our new mission.

I can tell you that many of our employees here thought it was high time we built a new office. Our operations were located at five different sites, and, even then, overcrowding was a problem. Technical connections were challenged by the age of the buildings and their design. Indeed, I am told that it was not unusual for the temperature to swing from the ice age to global warming in a matter of hours.

With more than double the previous space, Chicago is the largest stand-alone FBI field office in the country. Improvements include tighter security and upgraded technology that will give employees the support and efficiency they deserve.

Thank you to Deborah Orkowski from GSA; Debra Schug, from FBI headquarters; and Chicago employees Barbara Valocik, Michael Triem, and Brad Fister for contributing enormous time and energy to this project.

Like this building, today's FBI is stronger, more flexible, and more modern-able to meet whatever challenges lay ahead.

Thank you, and God bless you.

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