Home News Speeches Protecting Business is Our Business
  • Robert S. Mueller, III
  • Director
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • Washington, D.C.
  • January 19, 2006

At the end of each year, The New York Times writes about the lives of exceptional people who have died. This year, The Times told about an American soldier who escaped from a Fascist prison camp during World War II. Wandering the Italian countryside and nearly starving, the man was helped by a small family who did so at the risk of being shot.

After the war, the man went back to thank the family. To repay the couple who had saved his life, the soldier offered their son a chance to live in America, along with a job in his family's dairy business.

The son, with his wife and children, came to New Jersey and settled into a home near his own, where they live to this day.

Our nation's prosperity is renowned throughout the world, and this simple story shows the power of American opportunity. Like so many others, this family came to the United States seeking a better way of life.

Economic opportunity is provided by the businesses represented here today and many others throughout the country. But the same opportunity that brings us great prosperity makes our country—and your businesses—a target for terrorists and criminals alike.

When terrorists struck the World Trade Center, they destroyed a symbol of America's economic strength. We lost more than 3,000 of our fellow citizens on that day. While the attackers succeeded in bringing down the twin towers, they failed to bring down our economy.

In just under a week, the New York Stock Exchange opened on schedule as a U.S. Marine sang, "God Bless America." And once again, the American economy proved its resiliency.

The September 11 attacks were a watershed event for the United States and for the FBI. Overnight, our No. 1 priority became the prevention of another terrorist attack.

Today I want to discuss the progress we have made in the FBI's ability to combat threats to this country. Secondly, how we are working to safeguard our national security and the partnerships that are so important to that effort. And thirdly, what, specifically, we are doing to protect your businesses.

Transforming to meet our new mission of preventing terrorist attacks required that we improve our capabilities in three critical areas:

The first is intelligence. The FBI has always been good at collecting information, but we had to become better at analyzing and sharing intelligence. To prevent attacks, we had to increase the most important aspect of terrorist intelligence information—and that is its predictive value.

To do this, we took a number of steps to build a comprehensive intelligence program, including hiring over 1,000 analysts, centralizing our case information, and establishing intelligence teams in each one of our field offices.

Still, we needed a systematic, focused approach—one more closely coordinated with the larger intelligence community. To accomplish this, we have created the FBI's National Security Branch, which joins intelligence, counterterrorism, and counterintelligence under one umbrella.

The mission of the NSB is to protect the United States against current and emerging national security threats: weapons of mass destruction, terrorist attacks, foreign intelligence operations, and espionage. By integrating investigative and intelligence activities we want to quickly recognize these threats and disrupt them before they cause harm.

The second area of transformation—technology—helps us provide the right information to the right people at the right time.

We have dramatically upgraded our technology since 9/11, particularly when it comes to replacing computers, updating our networks, and developing databases. We are in the process of developing a fully operational, modern information technology infrastructure.

The third area of transformation is human capital. As with your companies, or any organization, the heart and soul of the FBI is its people. For that reason, we have focused on human capital.

Recruitment, development, and retention are critical to our success. In the past, we drew our agents primarily from law enforcement, accounting, and the military. We still look for individuals with exceptional leadership, maturity, and judgment, but we are also looking for individuals with intelligence backgrounds and experience in other cultures. We need linguists, computer programmers, scientists, and engineers.

To grow our workforce, we are establishing a national intelligence service with enhanced recruiting, training, and career development. In the future, agents and analysts will be able to specialize in national security, just as they can already specialize in the criminal or cyber arenas.

Improving our capabilities meant we also had to draw on our strengths. One of those strengths is leadership.

As we transform the FBI, one of the key issues for our organization has been maintaining the positive culture and effectiveness for which the FBI has been known throughout its 97 years.

The FBI is a relatively small organization, with only 12,000 special agents—compared with almost 36,000 officers in the New York Police Department alone.

Still, our employees have enormous loyalty to the institution and to the nation. Most people are drawn to the FBI because they are drawn to public service. They give up more generous compensation because of a desire to serve their country. The FBI is an organization where the employees have great pride in what they do, and we are blessed to have that caliber of individuals in our organization.

Turning from the transformation of the FBI in the wake of September 11 to threats to our national security and partnerships. When the FBI was established 97 years ago, it was because crime had begun to cross state lines. Today, criminal activity not only crosses state lines, it traverses international boundaries with the click of a mouse.

Like your businesses, law enforcement has also been affected by globalization. While technology and travel have made the world smaller, crime is more diverse than ever before—from terrorism to telemarketing fraud to the trafficking of human beings.

Our adversaries may be nation states, militaries, international terrorists, or criminal organizations dedicated to stealing our secrets or destroying our way of life.

I know Tom Donahue has expressed his concern about America losing its competitive edge. We are working every day to make sure that edge is not stolen from us.

Given the threats we face, new approaches are needed to protect the security of our families, our communities, and our businesses from crime and terrorism. We must work strategically, strengthening our partnerships and building on our successes.

In the national security arena and elsewhere, we rely on partnerships more than ever before.

Prior to 9/11, the FBI and the CIA were prohibited from sharing information between criminal and terrorism cases. Even FBI agents working terrorism intelligence matters could not compare notes with FBI agents working on criminal cases concerning the same terrorists. The Patriot Act changed all that. Removing those legal walls gave us an indispensable tool in the war against terror.

Today, the FBI and CIA are not only sharing information on a regular basis, we are exchanging employees and working together on cases every day.

Joint Terrorism Task Forces are the eyes and ears of communities nationwide. In the last four years, we have increased our JTTFs from 35 to 103. They combine the skills of FBI agents and analysts, along with police officers, the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the IRS, just to name a few. Together, we track down each and every counterterrorism lead.

We are also working globally. When I began my career as a federal prosecutor in San Francisco in the '70s, rarely was there a case that had international connections. That is no longer true. Today, cases with an international nexus have become the rule rather than the exception.

FBI agents are working with our law enforcement partners from to Rome to Romania. We are gathering intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are training international police from Budapest to Saudi Arabia.

Since 9/11, our 53 international offices, or Legal Attaché offices, have become increasingly important to our overall operations. We plan to have 60 open by the end of 2006, with more to come. What began primarily as a liaison now assists our counterparts overseas on joint investigations, intelligence-sharing, and the development of new methods to prevent attacks.

The result is terrorists are on the run. Working with our partners, we have removed the sanctuary of Afghanistan, we have apprehended many of Al Qaeda's top leaders, and we have stemmed the flow of terrorist funding.

Let me turn to what we are doing to protect business. We are working around-the-clock to fight terrorism. But crime, fraud, and public corruption are still among our top priorities. As you may know, the FBI investigates everything from major corporate fraud to money laundering. You might say protecting business is our business.

Let me mention a few of the threats to business and describe how we are fighting them.

Cyber Crime. While the Internet has opened the doors to a new world of communication and commerce, technology is a double-edged sword. Entrepreneurs and engineers are not the only ones who recognize the vast potential of the Internet. Criminals and terrorists do, too. Even traditional crimes have migrated online, exploding on the doorsteps of companies like yours: fraud, identity theft, copyright infringement.

Agents and analysts in our Cyber Division protect against the theft of intellectual property, child pornography, online fraud, and computer intrusions. Our Cyber Action Teams travel around the world on a moment's notice to assist in computer intrusion and counterterrorism cases.

Public corruption. There are always a few individuals whose desire to make money overshadows the desire to serve. Corrupt public officials betray the trust of our society and threaten the foundation of our democracy. We continue to pursue these cases nationwide.

Organized crime. Unfortunately, the FBI is not the only one working together. In the last few years, organized crime has become a complex, multinational enterprise that transcends national and international borders. Today, the structure and reach of some criminal organizations rivals that of large multi-national corporations.

The influence of organized crime on labor unions, political institutions, financial markets, and industry is immeasurable. The economic impact alone was estimated by the Center for Strategic and International Studies at nearly $1 trillion per year.

The FBI is uniquely positioned to dismantle organizations because of our experience, training, and expertise in targeting large criminal enterprises.

Corporate fraud. Enron. Tyco. WorldCom. Adelphia. One after another, extensive and deceptive corporate fraud schemes came to light. Each revelation of corporate malfeasance further shook investor confidence.

To give you an idea of the scope of the problem, the number of corporate fraud cases the FBI has opened increased over 300 percent between 2001 and 2005.

When the corporate fraud scandals erupted, we established corporate fraud reserve teams, composed of special agent accountants and financial analysts who fanned out across the country, working on investigations. We also collaborated extensively with affected companies, federal partners—particularly the SEC—and private organizations.

Because the threats we face are more diverse than ever, working together is more important than ever. We recognize that our security is dependent on the partnerships we develop with our partners in law enforcement and the intelligence community, as well as our counterparts overseas. Our InfraGard program is a vital link between the FBI and the private sector. Through better communication and the exchange of information, we are protecting critical information systems.

We recognize that in certain areas we lack the expertise that you possess. We lack the specific knowledge of threats that affect individual businesses every day. That is why we need your help and why we continue to ask for your cooperation through the InfraGard program.

In our open society, we will never completely eliminate crime. Where there is freedom to choose, there is freedom to choose poorly, and crime will always be a siren call to those looking for easy money. Even so, America is the best place in the world to do business.

History has shown us that each new century brings new tests. The challenge of our time is terrorism. Our nation is the most powerful in the world. And with that power comes responsibility. We have a responsibility to stand up for freedom and for the rule of law, which are the hallmarks of civilization.

The men and women who serve in the FBI are fully engaged in the fight against crime and terrorism. They are working day and night to protect the American people, while upholding our civil liberties.

These are values that remain constant as we grow into a national security agency ready to meet evolving threats.

The war on terrorism is not over. Bali, Madrid, and London are grim reminders that terrorists still have the desire and the ability to carry out deadly attacks.

But our enemies are sorely mistaken if they underestimate our resolve. We will not rest, and we will not be deterred, until terrorism is defeated.

I would like to close with a quote written one year after 9/11. The managing editor of a Romanian newspaper wrote an editorial titled, "An Ode to America," in which he looked back on the events of September 11.

He said,

"…the American tragedy turned 300 million people into a hand put on the heart...Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts...The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand. After the first moments of panic, they raised the flag on the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of the national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars…[and] on every occasion they started singing their traditional song: "God Bless America!"…The Americans'...spirit turned them into a choir. Actually, choir is not the word. What you could hear was the heavy artillery of the American soul."

Thank you for your support.

God bless you.

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