Major Executive Speeches

Remarks Prepared For Delivery by
Bruce J. Gebhardt
Deputy Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
National Executive Institute, 27th Session
September 13, 2004
Good evening! It is truly a pleasure to be here among friends. Welcome to your final week of great field trips – I mean, training. In all seriousness, from the coast of Australia to the fields at Gettysburg, the leadership training you have received through the NEI will be invaluable to you as you go back to lead your departments. Even more invaluable will be the relationships you have formed with your fellow chiefs.

Tonight, I want to talk briefly about two areas: partnerships and leadership. Both are critical to our success in combating crime and defeating terrorism in this new century. Some of you may know that I am retiring from the FBI in a few weeks, after 30 years with the Bureau. I want to take a moment to personally thank all of you for your invaluable partnerships and your outstanding leadership throughout the years.

In looking back on my career, I have been struck by how dramatically the criminal landscape has changed since the day I received my badge and credentials in 1974. When I began as a Special Agent, most of my investigations centered around violent and organized crime, which posed grave threats to the safety of our citizens. Thirty years later, I have had the opportunity to brief the President of the United States on the most severe threat we confront today – terrorism.

I have also been struck by how the FBI has adapted to confront the changing threat landscape, and how it has moved from an organization that was primarily focused on traditional criminal investigations to one that is actively investigating and disrupting terrorism.

As new threats facing our Nation evolve, the FBI has had to evolve. And perhaps the most important of these changes has been in the evolution of our relationship with state and local law enforcement, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

The time when a police department or a sheriff's office or the FBI can act on its own is gone. Your officers are on the front lines, defending our citizens against an enemy who can hide in any one of our communities. We in the FBI are 12,000 Agents strong. It is not possible to investigate potential terrorists, disrupt terrorist plots, fight traditional crime, and provide security for National Special Security Events like the G-8 Summit or the political conventions, without your help? We are only as strong as our relationships. We must rely on each other for what each brings to the table, whether that be manpower, technology, or expertise. The safety of our Nation and our world demands that we work together with seamless coordination.

And we have made significant progress. One of our greatest successes has been the expansion of our Joint Terrorism Task Forces. In 2001, we had just 35 JTTFs across the country. Today, we have 100. We have passed thousands of clearances for state and local JTTF participants across the country. We also established the National Joint Terrorism Task Force at FBI Headquarters, staffed by representatives from 38 federal, state, and local agencies. Working together, we have been able to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.

We in the FBI have dramatically improved our intelligence capabilities – not just intelligence gathering, but also analysis and dissemination. Our goal is to make sure that you have the information you need the moment you need it. New intelligence products are available daily on LEO. We refined information sharing systems, such as the National Alert System. We send out a weekly Intelligence Bulletin to over 17,000 agencies nationwide. We established the Terrorist Screening Center, which has been successful in providing unified threat information to law enforcement nationwide.

We have come a long way towards achieving our goal of working together seamlessly. It has been hard work, and at times frustrating. No matter what agency we work for, we are bound by a common mission – and protecting our fellow citizens is certainly work worth doing.

And you are the leaders of this mission. That brings me to my second point – leadership. Each of you has a proven record of outstanding leadership in your own cities, states, and jurisdictions. You did not come to the NEI for “Leadership 101.” You already understood that great leaders seek out new opportunities for learning, and pass on their experience and expertise to the officers in their command. John F. Kennedy once remarked that “leadership and learning are indispensable to one another.” That is why you are here, and I salute you for your willingness to learn, to embrace change, to strengthen your departments, and to build lasting relationships with law enforcement leaders around the globe.

We consider the NEI one of the crown jewels of the FBI and essential to building strong leadership in law enforcement communities worldwide. Every year, we are working to expand the international component of NEI, such as the work with the Australian Institute for Police Management, because we have seen first-hand how critical international cooperation has proved in fighting international crime and terror.

For instance, we received tremendous assistance from German government agencies in investigating the 9/11 Hamburg cell. Countries such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Spain have called upon us to help investigate terror attacks in their homelands and we have worked joint terror operations with Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and others.

Last May, after nine Americans lost their lives in the bombing in Riyadh, the Saudi government allowed the FBI to send a large forensic team to assist in their investigation. The result was an unprecedented cooperation. One reason was because the FBI had trained more than 100 Saudi police in the National Academy. We were using the same methods of evidence collection and the same terminology. As they told us, "We were taught together, now we can work together."

You, too, have been taught together. You will work together, and you will face the challenges of leadership together. You are the leaders in the war on terrorism, and in the battle to keep our streets and cities safe from crime. It can be demanding and demoralizing, frustrating and fruitless, tiring and tedious – and did I mention thankless? But it is these hurdles, day after day, that demand the very best from each of us and transform us into strong leaders.

Leadership demands courage and compassion, persistence, patience, and determination. Leadership demands dedication and sacrifice, qualities you have demonstrated throughout your careers, but never more so than since September 11, 2001.

Leadership also demands a willingness to change, and the ability to bring about change and, finally, leadership demands a willingness to act, not just talk. Some final words of wisdom from Teddy Roosevelt:

“ It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly...who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who have never known neither victory nor defeat.”

The credit he spoke of belongs to each and every one of you. In the end, leadership is about taking action, not sitting on the sidelines criticizing the game. You are in the arena. And so as I close this chapter of my career, I want to express my profound gratitude to each of you, and to every single officer working around-the-clock to protect our great Nation.

Thank you again for having me here tonight. Enjoy your final week at Quantico!