Press Release

For Immediate Release
May 1, 2001

Washington D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691

FBI Director Louis J. Freeh Announced Today that He is Retiring from Federal Service after Twenty-Seven Years, Effective in June


After 27 years, I have decided to retire from federal service and step down as FBI Director by the end of the school year in June. I want to thank my loving wife, Marilyn, and my six sons for allowing me to serve our Nation for over a quarter century. I announced my departure this morning at the annual conference of all of the FBI's Special Agents in Charge and senior managers.

I wish to thank the 27,272 men and women of today's FBI, as well as all who have served the FBI over the years, and their wonderful families for their dedication and endless efforts in pursuit of justice under the Rule of Law. It has been my privilege to work with colleagues such as them who possess such a diverse range of talents. They are highly trained, technically competent law enforcement employees who, although often unheralded, routinely perform an extraordinary public service on behalf of the people they so proudly serve. I continually marvel at their accomplishments and their unselfish willingness to make personal sacrifices for the causes of public safety and national security.

I want to thank President George W. Bush for his leadership and commitment to protecting this great Nation at home and abroad. I am deeply honored that he asked me to continue serving as Director and am proud to have been a part of his first 100 days in office. I am also grateful for the President's unwavering support of me and the FBI. President Bush has brought great honor and integrity to the Oval Office. It was equally an honor to be appointed by his father to serve as a federal judge.

I also wish to thank Vice President Dick Cheney for conducting an effective transition process and for his dedication to duty in serving the Nation. Following extensive briefings by the FBI and other agencies, Vice President Cheney and his staff, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff demonstrated decisiveness and leadership in quickly resolving a number of long-standing national security issues.

I want to thank White House Chief of Staff, Andy Card, for his support and attention to critical issues involving public safety and national security.

I am also grateful to Attorney General John D. Ashcroft for the strong support he has provided to the men and women of the FBI, and for his friendship. His efforts, combined with the work of his staff, will be critical in guiding the Department of Justice in the days ahead.

I wish to thank former President Clinton for the honor and privilege of allowing me to serve the American people as the FBI Director.

I further wish to thank former Attorney General Janet Reno for her friendship and support to the FBI, particularly in our expanded efforts to combat cyber-crime, terrorism, and international organized crime.

I would like to thank the Congress for the support it has shown to the FBI during my tenure as FBI Director.

When I became FBI Director on September 1, 1993, I came back to an organization that I first joined at age 25, when I became an FBI Agent after graduating from law school. The statement I made at the time of my nomination remains true today: "The FBI is the greatest organization for law enforcement ever created by democratic society."

I am pleased with our many accomplishments during the almost eight years that I have served as Director.

Among our accomplishments:

  • Maintaining and re-emphasizing five core values for the men and women of the FBI:
    • Rigorous obedience to the United States Constitution;
    • Respect for the dignity of all those we protect;
    • Compassion;
    • Fairness; and,
    • Uncompromising personal and institutional integrity.
  • With the support of Congress, we have had the privilege of swearing-in 5,029 new FBI Special Agents and hiring over 4,000 technical and professional employees. In addition, over 8,000 state, local, and foreign police leaders from all 50 states and from nations around the world have graduated from our 66 year old National Academy program.
  • In response to dramatic changes relating to crime, terrorism, and national security, we have championed the cause of cooperative law enforcement action at all levels: local, state, federal, and foreign. Through the leadership of Director George Tenet, we have forged an unprecedented relationship with the men and women of the Central Intelligence Agency in the counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism arenas. Similarly, we place great importance on working cooperatively with individual agencies and national organizations, including the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs' Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National District Attorneys Association, and the National Association of Attorneys General. By multiplying our combined resources and thereby avoiding dysfunctional "turf wars," we have better fulfilled our mandate to protect the American people and made better use of the resources they have given to us. This, in turn, has enabled us to place greater emphasis on counter-intelligence, counter-terrorism, international organized crime, high-tech and economic crimes, civil rights violations, and crimes against children.
  • As Director, I have traveled to 68 countries around the world and met with over 2,100 foreign leaders. At the same time, we have more than doubled the FBI's overseas presence -- now in 44 critical foreign locations -- in order to enhance cooperation with our foreign counterparts. We have also trained over 50,000 foreign police officers in policing under the Rule of Law at our Quantico Academy, at our International Law Enforcement Academy in Budapest, Hungary, and in countries around the world. These measures already have proven invaluable in the international fight against terrorism, organized crime, cyber-crimes, and transnational crimes in the Information Age.
  • We have received the human, technical, and financial resources needed to keep the FBI at the cutting edge of investigations, particularly in the rapidly evolving area of cyber-crime. Over the nearly eight years that I have been Director, Congress has increased the FBI's budget by more than $1.27 billion to the 2001 Budget Appropriation level of $3.44 billion. That is a 58% increase over 1993's budget. At the same time, we have benefitted from laws that have strengthened our crime-fighting abilities, including the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, Anti-Terrorism laws, the Economic Espionage Act, and the Health Care Fraud Statute.
  • Significantly, we have made dramatic strides in increasing the numbers of minorities and women who serve as Special Agents. If we are to succeed in our mission, we must have diversity in our ranks. Our priority on fairness has also resulted in significant increases in the number of minorities and women serving in high-level management positions in the Senior Executive Service. For example, during my tenure, three African-American men, four Hispanic men, one African-American woman, and one White woman were appointed as Assistant Directors -- the second highest rank in the career FBI.
  • Consistent with the pledges I made when I began as FBI Director, we have kept the FBI free of political interference. That has enabled us to work solely in the public interest. As Director, I was often mindful of the words dating from 1924, when the Honorable Harlan F. Stone was Attorney General of the United States: "One of the cardinal rules ... was that the Federal Bureau of Investigation should be completely divorced from the vagaries of political influence."

In closing, I want to reiterate what I previously stated: I have neither engaged in negotiations regarding any future employment nor have I requested others do so on my behalf while serving as Director. As for the future, I look forward to spending the summer with my family and engaging in new challenges.

I want to thank my dear friend and colleague of over 20 years, Robert B. Bucknam, for his extraordinary service as my chief counselor and chief of staff. His immense skill, energy, and integrity have served our Nation for over 25 years. Bob has been principally responsible for the successful expansion and development of the FBI's overseas programs, an historic development for the FBI. The FBI and the Nation owe him and his lovely wife, Catherine, its sincere appreciation.

I also want to thank Deputy Director Thomas Pickard for his outstanding service and leadership of the FBI over 25 years. His invaluable contributions to the Bureau and its employees, combined with his able stewardship, will continue to maintain this institution as the very best law enforcement agency under the Rule of Law.

I want to thank my staff for their dedication and hard work during my tenure.

In closing, I would again like to thank my wife, Marilyn, and my six sons, who now range from age three to sixteen, for their constant love, support, and sacrifices.

Thank you.


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