Home News Speeches Moving Beyond the Walls: Global Partnerships in a Global Age
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • 10th Anniversary of ILEA Budapest
  • Budapest, Hungary
  • May 12, 2005

Before I begin, I want to thank Minister Lamperth for inviting me to celebrate the 10th anniversary of one of Budapest's more recent, but nonetheless historic, institutions--the International Law Enforcement Academy. Thanks go also to Ambassador Walker, Chief Laszlo Bene, and Assistant Secretary of State Nancy Powell for their ongoing support.

It has been about 10 years since I was last here at "Quantico East." Back in the mid-1990s, I was working as an attorney in private practice, and came here to teach a course on investigating and prosecuting public corruption. Even in ILEA's infancy, the quality of training and the quality of students here left a tremendous impression on me. Never did I dream that I might someday have the privilege of celebrating ILEA's 10th anniversary as Director of the FBI.

On the way over, I was leafing through a book by historian John Lukacs called Budapest 1900. Lukacs describes Budapest at the turn of the century as a "great metropolis." With its coffee houses and opera houses, museums and universities, Budapest was known worldwide for its economic prosperity and cultural vibrancy. It was a time of great hope and great achievement. And although this city has endured decades of hardship since then, hope and achievement are once again flourishing.

Budapest 1900 covers the end of the age of industrialization. If the author were to write Budapest 2000, it would take place in an age of globalization.

In his book, The Lexus and the Olive Tree, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman describes globalization as having "replaced the Cold War as the defining international system." Then, nations were separated by walls, both physical and cultural. But during the 1980s, political and cultural forces gathered, culminating in what Friedman describes as a "whirlwind strong enough to blow down all the walls of the Cold War system and enable the world to come together."

The physical collapse of these walls started right here in Hungary, in the autumn of 1989, when Hungarians began cutting through the barbed wire of the Iron Curtain at the Austrian border. Within hours, thousands of East Germans had stepped through the opening into Hungary. From there, they made their way to free lands. Later that year, the Berlin Wall fell.

Once communism gave way to multiparty democracy, market-based economies, and open borders, globalization was not far behind.

We generally think of globalization as a phenomenon that affects commerce. But it also affects crime and terrorism. Modern technology makes it possible for an investor in New Delhi to electronically manage his stock portfolio in New York. But it also enables crimes as diverse as drug trafficking, organized crime, corporate fraud and terrorism to jump from Sarajevo to San Francisco with the stroke of a computer key.

Here in Central Europe--as in the United States and many other places around the world--criminals took immediate advantage of the open society and marketplace. New economies attract foreign investors, but also foreign criminals. Open borders allow citizens to travel freely, but also facilitate the growth and movement of organized crime, drug smuggling, and human trafficking. Cars, cell phones, and computers have become common, but so have auto theft, fraud, and cyber crime.

Unfortunately , there will always be those who choose to exploit freedom to criminal ends. Fortunately, ILEA Budapest is preparing our law enforcement agencies to combat criminals who seek to stifle liberty and stunt progress. ILEA Budapest strengthens two of our most valuable crime-fighting tools: training and partnerships.

First, training is vital to our collective mission to protect our citizens from crime and terrorism. In this global age, the number of criminal cases with an international dimension is increasing. Let me give you an example.

Two years ago a United States scientific research station in Antarctica called us for help after hackers had broken into their systems. The hackers announced their crime in an e-mail, and threatened to sell the stolen data to other countries. Because of the sub-freezing temperatures, it was impossible for FBI agents to go to the scene--no aircraft could land on the South Pole for months.

But working from thousands of miles away, our investigators traced the source of the intrusion to a server in Pennsylvania. From there, we determined that the criminals were accessing their e-mail at a cyber café in Romania. We contacted the Romanian police, who executed a search warrant and arrested the suspects.

Fifteen years ago, none of us could have imagined working hand-in-hand on cases covering thousands of miles and crossing countless jurisdictions. Yet this is the age of globalization. And so it is critical that investigators from Rome to Romania and from Amman to America be able to work together effectively.

ILEA makes that possible.

Over the past 10 years, students from 26 countries have graduated from the eight-week ILEA program. More than 8,000 officers, judges, and prosecutors have taken specialized courses geared toward specific criminal issues affecting their countries--from computer crime to counterproliferation.

Last year, we added another critical training element: forensics. Here at the new Forensic Science Training Center, scientists and law enforcement officers learn to use sophisticated forensics to solve crimes. The first course taught analysis of hair and fibers. These small bits of evidence are often the key to cracking a case. Last month, students took a course on crime scene management. By sharing our techniques, we can all build strong cases that result in successful prosecutions.

Training is critical to investigating and prosecuting cases. But training has an even more important long-term benefit--it promotes the growth of stable governments that respect the rule of law. For example, in 2003, Georgian prosecutors and judges came to ILEA for discussions on criminal procedure. They did more than just talk--they wrote and signed the Draft Code for Criminal Procedure in Georgia. The new code reforms outdated laws that blocked police from investigating and prosecuting criminals. Equally as important, the new code emphasizes the civil rights of suspects and protects due process.

Another benefit of training is that while it may begin at ILEA, it does not end here. Officers bring their knowledge and expertise back to their home countries, raising the caliber of every law enforcement agency. In fact, many of the officers who graduated from the Academy have been promoted to high-ranking positions in their agencies. They have been instrumental in changing and strengthening the legal systems in their countries to better promote security and protect freedom.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of training is that it leads naturally to partnerships. Let me give you an example. In May 2003, the Saudi government allowed the FBI to send a large forensic team to assist their investigation of a terrorist bombing of housing compounds in Riyadh. There was unprecedented cooperation, in part because the FBI had trained more than 100 Saudi police at our National Academy. The FBI and Saudi officers were using the same techniques and the same terminology. As they told us, "We were taught together, now we can work together."

In this global age, law enforcement agencies are only as strong as their partnerships. No department, no agency, and no country can defeat crime and terrorism alone. We must draw on each other's strengths, experiences, and expertise in order to succeed.

And this is where globalization helps the law enforcement community. As walls have fallen throughout the world, they have also fallen among our agencies in historic ways. In the United States, the FBI and the CIA now freely exchange information. The FBI recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Russia that will help coordinate our anti-terrorism efforts with those of the Russian Federal Security Service. Also, for the first time, Russian law enforcement officers will attend the FBI's Hazardous Devices School in the United States this month for explosives training. And the FBI-Hungarian National Police Organized Crime Task Force has been up and running for five years, working to dismantle organized crime groups. Just last month, we obtained approval to have FBI agents permanently stationed here in Budapest to work on the Task Force.

The Task Force has had a number of successes. Right here in Budapest, Ukranian-born Semion Mogilevich established the headquarters of his powerful organized crime enterprise. The group engaged in drug and weapons trafficking, prostitution, and money laundering, and organized stock fraud in the United States and Canada in which investors lost over 150 million dollars.

As soon as the Task Force began investigating his activities, Mogilevich realized he could no longer use Budapest as his base of operations. He immediately fled the country, and is now hiding in Moscow. Working closely with Hungarian authorities, United States prosecutors obtained a 45-count indictment against Mogilevich and three other criminals, charging them with money laundering, securities fraud, and racketeering.

Also, take the arrest in June 2000 of Hungarian Top Ten Fugitive Andras Lakatos, known as the "banker to the Hungarian underworld." His criminal activities ranged from extortion to document fraud, and he had been hiding out in South Florida. The Hungarian National Police worked closely with the FBI office in Miami to locate Lakatos. He was subsequently arrested and deported back to Hungary.

Training at ILEA has certainly improved the FBI's partnerships with each of your countries--but most importantly, it has improved your partnerships with each other. The bonds of teamwork that you have forged at this Academy will continue to serve you years from now. There are countless stories from officers who met at the Academy and who called on each other months and years later for assistance in developing a program or solving a case.

Let me share one of those stories. In 2001, Macedonian and Albanian officers trained together at the Academy. A short time later, the Macedonian and Albanian police agencies needed to negotiate a cross-border agreement. Because of the sensitive and complex issues involved, both sides anticipated that it would take a long time to reach an agreement.

Instead, it took one day. Why? Because there were ILEA graduates on each of the negotiation teams. Because the relationships they had formed at the Academy meant they were not meeting for the first time at the negotiating table.

These are just a few examples of the outstanding accomplishments made possible by training and partnerships. As our nations work to strengthen freedom and security, law enforcement must be equipped to combat those who would use freedom to undermine security.

To do that, we must continue to train together and work together. We must continue to build bridges together that transcend our differences, be they borders, backgrounds, or beliefs. This has been the greatest success of ILEA over the past 10 years--building those bridges through training and partnerships.

In thinking about the bridges we have built, I want to share a thought from American poet Robert Frost. In his poem entitled "Mending Wall," a man is reinforcing a stone wall that separates his farm from his neighbor's farm, isolating them from one another. He says, " Good fences make good neighbors."

That sounded like good advice in the 20th century, when walls between neighbors and nations seemed a logical way to ensure our safety. But within the 21 st-century global law enforcement community, dividing walls mean less security, not more.

The mission of previous generations was to tear down the physical walls that divided us. The mission of our generation is to tear down the cultural, legal, political, and psychological walls that prevent us from working together in partnership. Today, good bridges make good neighbors.

On its 10th anniversary, ILEA stands as a living monument to the principles of cooperation and partnership. And when we come together to celebrate ILEA's 20th, 50th, 100th anniversary, I am confident that we will hear hundreds of other success stories--stories of courage, dedication, and cooperation that allowed freedom to flourish, and forced tyranny to flee. Standing apart, we cannot succeed. But standing together, we cannot--we will not--fail.

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