Thank you, Steve, thank you all for coming today, and good morning to you all. 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. Without us all acting together as force multipliers, our crime-fighting work would indeed be limited.
There are several individuals I would like to acknowledge: Senator Reid, thank you so much for your generous remarks and your strong support of the FBI. Mayor Goodman, we are honored that you could join us here today. I would also like to thank Paulette Simpson, representing Senator John Ensign; Asha Jones, representing Congresswoman Shelley Berkley; Brad Keating, representing Governor Gibbons; and Damon Harwood of Harwood and Associates, our builder.
Our dedication ceremony here today represents the culmination of years of effort. The lease for this building was awarded to the FBI in 2004, and a ground-breaking ceremony was held in 2005. Move-in day was November 18, 2006.
Now, finally, we are here today to celebrate and dedicate the efforts of so many in creating a building that is appropriately named after Special Agent John Lawrence Bailey. For those of you who don't know, Special Agent Bailey, a 21-year FBI veteran, was fatally wounded while taking custody of a bank robber here in Las Vegas in 1990. In naming this building after him, we honor not only his heroism on that day, but the brave work of all special agents around the country and around the world.
It is worth remembering a little of the unique and sometimes colorful history of the Las Vegas Division.
Back in 1960, this was a field office for the Salt Lake City Division. Las Vegas itself had a population of approximately 65,000, and there was about two dozen casinos in operation. Because the city was growing, one additional agent was requested. Just a year later, J. Edgar Hoover ordered the transfer of all files pertaining to Nevada from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, and you went operational as a new division on May 5, 1961.
I noted in reviewing the division's history that, for a time, while your first building was under construction, you operated out of the Las Vegas Convention Center's exhibit room. And that the cost of three months' rent for us of that space was a whopping $1,650. So, relatively speaking, it was quite a coup when Headquarters granted funds of $534 to allow for the installation of a drinking fountain in the new building.
Thank goodness for that. I understand it can get quite hot around here. Although I also noted that in 1967, with temperatures over 108 degrees, you tried unsuccessfully to get air conditioning in the agent's cars!
In fact, the Las Vegas division got very busy very quickly. “Slick Willie” Sutton once famously said that he robbed banks “because that's where the money is.” No doubt the casinos of this city have proved to be a magnet for criminals looking to hid among the throngs of tourists.
Still, you caught fugitive thief Irving Galinsky at the Thunderbird Hotel in November of 1962. You also arrested New Jersey bank robbers William Louis Schech and Doyle Delmar Royal at the Sahara Hotel that November. The very next year, your special agents spotted fugitive Joseph Levy lunching in a Vegas restaurant and effected his arrest.
While those names may not be so familiar to some, I should point out that you also dealt effectively with the abduction of Frank Sinatra Jr. in 1963, capturing the three kidnappers and recovering all but $153 of the nearly quarter million in ransom money.
Since that time, your division has handled plane crashes, a plane hijacking, and explosions—remember WHEELBOMB in 1980? You captured bank robbers, members of organized crime, kidnappers, Top Ten fugitives, racketeers, corrupt public officials, and, of course, led many gambling raids.
And today, the Las Vegas office continues to compile an impressive list of accomplishments.
It is important to remember such history because of the lessons we can learn in meeting new challenges. And the greatest challenge we have before us today is terrorism. In the past five-plus years, we have made substantial progress against al Qaeda by removing the sanctuary of Afghanistan and apprehending many of its senior leaders.
Yet in spite of this progress, Al Qaeda still seeks to attack us, and they still have the capacity to do so. The terrorist attacks in Bali, Riyadh, Morocco, Jakarta, Madrid, London, and Glasgow remain stark reminders of the deadly threat posed by groups and individuals with the desire and ability to kill.
To succeed against shadowy and resilient global enemies, the FBI must also be ready to pursue those enemies across the globe.
Today, computer hackers can target innocent citizens, small businesses, major corporations, and government entities from anywhere in the world. Terrorists use the Internet to recruit others, as well as spread their message of hate across the globe. Organized crime operates from Anchorage to Azerbaijan, from Las Vegas to London.
Among this world of threats, the prevention of another terrorist attack remains our number one priority. We are particularly concerned about the threat of homegrown terrorist cells.
But 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. That is why, in part, we are working more closely with our state, local, national and international law enforcement partners. We now produce better intelligence products, and this intelligence information is shared, not only with our law enforcement partners in the United States, but throughout the world.
To strengthen our efforts against terrorism, we have increased our Joint Terrorism Task Forces around the country from 35 to over 100. In Las Vegas, the JTTF is housed right here in the new building. Thirteen FBI agents are assigned full-time to work with 21 local, state, and federal officers to investigate each and every terrorism lead.
This new building also houses the Nevada Regional Intelligence Center, which comprises FBI agents, intelligence analysts, and local and state law enforcement partners.
Such partnerships remain vital to fighting crime today. Look no further than the fact that approximately two years ago, the FBI, working with state and local partners, took out a significant gang—the “Rollin' Sixties”—that operated right near this very building. The gang was responsible for significant drug dealing, robberies, violence, and murder.
Your efforts to break up this gang resulted in 30 indictments and cleared up several previously unresolved homicides. Most of the gang members are now in prison. And I understand violent crime was reduced by 20 percent in this immediate area.
Indeed, working with our partners has meant more successes. Together, we have taken violent gangs off the streets, 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 Las Vegas 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.
Today, America is safer, and Las Vegas is safer, than we were before the attacks of September 11. But we are still not safe.
Throughout our history, the FBI always has 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 is a flagship for our new mission.
Thanks to each one of you who contributed enormous time and energy to this project.
The reason the Las Vegas office and the entire FBI have been able to meet new global challenges is because of our people. It is the dedication, integrity, and hard work of our employees that make the FBI a very special place in which to work.
It is enormously gratifying for me 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 that he or she works at the FBI.
As we change to address global challenges, expectations remain high. But the history of the Las Vegas field office tells us that the FBI responds in whatever ways needed to protect the citizens of this country.
With time and effort, the FBI will be like this new building. It will be better, stronger, and more modern—able to meet whatever challenges lie ahead.
And it is to that effort which I dedicate this building and to which I ask that we in the FBI dedicate ourselves.
Thank you, and God bless.
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