Major Executive Speeches

Remarks Prepared For Delivery by
Cassandra M. Chandler
Assistant Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation Exchange Club of Capitol Hill
February 3, 2005

Good morning. In learning about the Exchange Club, I realized that we in the FBI share many of the same values. A dedication to protecting children. A belief in public service. A deep love of our country. And a desire to make our communities and our nation a better and safer place.

On the 75th anniversary of the FBI, President Reagan summed up the FBI's mission and values in these words: "From its inception under President Theodore Roosevelt to the present, the FBI has worked diligently to enforce our laws, ensure the nation's security, and further the pursuit of justice across our land." And though the FBI has adapted and changed to successfully confront new threats, our broader mission has remain unchanged. We are still enforcing the laws of this country, still protecting the rights of all Americans, and still safeguarding the security of our nation against all enemies.

Who are these enemies? First and foremost, Al Qaeda and other terrorists overseas and their operatives and supporters hiding within our own borders. They are dangerous and they are deadly, and stopping them is the FBI's highest priority.

But they are not our only enemies. America and America's children are also at risk from drug dealers, online predators, gangs, and violent criminals. And it is not just our freedom and our security that are under assault, but also our values.

Today, I want to talk to you about what the FBI is doing to defend our freedom, safeguard our security, and support our shared values.

First, let's talk about public enemy number one: terrorists. I would imagine that many of you say a prayer of gratitude, as I do, every time the Capitol rotunda comes into view. The terrorists sought to destroy our Capitol on September 11, 2001 — but they did not succeed. And the FBI is here to make sure they will never again succeed. We are the lead agency charged with investigating and preventing terrorism. Since the September 11th attacks, we have made rapid and tremendous progress in understanding the nature of our enemies and implementing ways to defeat them.

This progress is largely the result of two important changes in the FBI: Improved intelligence, and improved partnerships with the intelligence community and with federal, state, local and international law enforcement. Let me give you a quick overview of these improvements.

First, before the September 11th attacks, the FBI was primarily focused on investigating traditional criminal and terrorism issues in a reactive way — investigating after the fact in order to bring perpetrators to justice. We have spent the past several years transforming the FBI into an intelligence-driven agency, working in a proactive way with the goal not just of prosecuting, but preventing crime and terrorism.

To prevent illegal activity, our intelligence capability has had to increase and improve dramatically. And it has.

We now have Field Intelligence Groups in every FBI office, collecting and analyzing intelligence and sharing it with over 100 Joint Terrorism Task Forces and other law enforcement and intelligence officials around the country and the world. We have stood up a new Directorate of Intelligence within the FBI, to make sure that intelligence is integrated into every single FBI investigation, from drugs, to gangs, to foreign counterintelligence, to terrorism.

And in all these areas, our increased intelligence ability has paid off in arrests and prosecutions, in dismantled drug and gang enterprises, in thwarted terrorist attacks, and in the lowest crime rate in 30 years.

The second area of improvement is our partnerships. In the wake of September 11th, it became all too clear that no agency, no department, and no nation could succeed alone. We could not afford to wrangle over turf. We could not afford to keep information to ourselves. We could not afford to introduce ourselves for the first time at another Ground Zero.

And so we have come together. We work together, train together, and share information together like never before. Today, police officers from across the country and the world work inside FBI offices, side-by-side with FBI Agents and analysts. Our counterterrorism Agents and analysts sit at the same tables, in the same rooms, in the same building with analysts and reports officers from the CIA. We are one team with one mission — preventing terrorism.

These improvements demonstrate how the FBI has adapted and changed to successfully confront today's threats. But the threats to America keep changing. Today's criminal landscape is becoming more complex, more dangerous, and more international.

The rules of the game also keep changing. Our adversaries carry no flags and wear no uniforms. They do not fight on traditional battlefields. Technology has enabled them to travel unnoticed, to communicate their plans with the click of a mouse, and to carry them out with the push of a cell phone button.

The first FBI Agents, working under President Roosevelt, worried about bank robbers and gangsters. Nearly 100 years later, Agents must also worry about hackers, online predators, spies, and terrorists. And we are concerned about the growing convergence of these threats, both old and new. Today, we see organized crime enterprises laundering money for drug groups. Drug groups selling weapons to terrorists. Terrorists committing white-collar crime and fraud to raise money for their operations.

But perhaps my greatest worry is that our culture is inadvertently supporting these evolving threats. And that's where you come in to play...

Our culture has changed dramatically since the early days of the FBI. Technology has allowed us to progress in many ways. But in some ways, technology has also been a vehicle of moral and cultural regress. It has allowed some people to indulge their worst instincts through too-real "virtual" worlds.

Let me give you a quick example — video games. Now, you may be wondering why I feel I can speak authoritatively on the way video games are eroding our culture and values and serving as a training ground for today's evolving crimes. Well, I have a 15-year old son. I know all about video games.

The label on his latest game obsession proves my point. It includes these warnings: "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs."

Of course, you could say, "Well, you're the Mom, don't let him play with it." But today, this and other video games, computer games, Internet games, and much more are readily available — if not in my home, then in the homes of others. But let's get back to the game....

As far as I can tell, the "protagonist" of the game is a sleazy gangster. In order to win, you have to acquire lots of money and lots of power. You have to take over rival gangs, put hits out on the police, ally yourself with drug kingpins and hopefully share some of their profits, befriend the Mafia, and kill as many people as you can with as many weapons as you can get your hands on.

Whatever happened to Pac-Man? You know, the nice little yellow guy that just ate power pellets and chased pastel ghosts away?

Yet this is the culture we live in. These are the values we are instilling in our children.

Today's games glorify violence and cultivate a casual attitude towards lawlessness. But it's not just games. The more our music, our music videos, our movies, and our TV shows promote violence and lawlessness, the more this same type of violence and lawlessness will play out on the streets, by children whose minds and hearts have been lost. And because America is a great exporter of ideas and influence, this same violence and lawlessness is seeping into other cultures and the minds and hearts of children in other nations.

This cultural degradation is perhaps the greatest future challenge of law enforcement. The FBI can work to prevent terrorism, gang violence and drug trafficking, but we cannot prevent them from being glorified to a kid with a new video or game. The FBI can stand on the front lines every day, trying to stop the spread of drugs, of firearms, of weapons of mass destruction. But we cannot stop the infiltration of the ideas that are dehumanizing our culture and encouraging kids to support the spread of drugs, of firearms, and of weapons of mass destruction.

That is why you are so important to the law enforcement community. Groups like the Exchange Club are vital to turning the tide in our nation and in the world. We share a common goal — securing a peaceful world and a civil society where freedom can flourish. Even the world's strongest army, using the best intelligence, aided by the most aggressive legislation cannot alone accomplish this goal.

It takes more than just changes in the FBI. It takes more than just law enforcement and military might to ensure our children can grow up in safety and in freedom. It takes all of you, doing just what you are doing — volunteering to make a difference — that will help win the battle.

President Bush put it best when he announced the creation of the USA Freedom Corps in January 2002. He said, "You overcome the evil in society by doing something to help somebody...If people want to fight terror, do something kind for a neighbor. Stand up to evil with acts of goodness. Not only will our country be better, but we will show the world that values must be adhered to. And as a result, the world will be more peaceful."

"History," President Bush said, "has called us to action, and action we will take."

The FBI is taking action by changing to meet evolving threats. And we are thankful that citizens like you are also taking that action, by serving our children, our communities and our country. You embody the American spirit of giving, and you are spreading that spirit to the people you serve. You are ambassadors of America's values. And together we will succeed in making America a safer place.