you Carmen. It is an honor to be here.
Thank you for joining us today as we celebrate Birmingham’s
new FBI office building.
At the dedication of each new office building I
am always struck by the passage of time. These are
occasions when the history that has come before
us meets the unique time and circumstances in which
we live. And so it is today here in Birmingham.
One wonders what C.W. McPhail would think of us
if he were here today. C.W. McPhail was named the
first Special Agent in Charge of the Birmingham
office in 1924.
I want to recognize someone who has witnessed firsthand
much of the FBI’s growth over the years, as
well as many other changes that have taken place.
Glenn Rotenberry will have been with the FBI for
43 years in October. He was employed as a Security
Clerk in the Birmingham office for less than a month
when he answered the phone on September 15, 1963,
to learn that the 16 th Street Baptist Church had
been bombed. Four African-American girls were slain
as they attended Sunday school in a racial killing
that shook the Nation.
We did not call it terrorism then, but terrorism
is what it was. And in this case, like too many
others, justice came slowly.
In 2002, former Klu Klux Klan member Bobby Frank
Cherry became the third man convicted in the murder
of those four young girls.
This is part of our history, and it is part of America’s
It is important to remember these events. A few
months before the bombing, Martin Luther King was
serving time in a Birmingham jail for participating
in civil rights demonstrations. From inside his
cell King wrote, “Injustice anywhere is a
threat to justice everywhere.”
We have learned many lessons since then. One of
the most important of these is that it is our mission
to protect the civil liberties of all Americans.
Because when just one of us loses just one of our
rights, then the freedoms of all of us are diminished.
Another lesson we can take from the events of 1963
is that the motivations of terrorists have not changed.
They still hide in the shadows and have such contempt
for human life that they are willing to kill children
to live out their hatred.
One more lesson I hope will remain is that no matter
how long it takes, we do not give up. And we will
not give up until freedom prevails against fear,
acceptance prevails against extremism, and all Americans
can live in peace and security.
While the criminal mind-set has not changed, the
types of crimes and the nature of the threats facing
our country have changed dramatically. Today, crime
includes not only international terrorism, but violent
gangs, illegal weapons trade, and the trafficking
of human beings. The threat has become increasingly
asymmetrical and complex.
It is clear in today’s world that no one entity,
no one agency, can do it alone.
The search for Eric Rudolph made the need for partnerships
abundantly clear. When Birmingham police officer
Robert Sanderson was killed by the blast from Rudolph’s
final bomb, he was the second of two killed and
more than 100 injured by Rudolph’s serial
bombings. For five years, Rudolph evaded the FBI.
That is until Murphy North Carolina Police Officer
Jeffrey Postell spotted Rudolph at 3:30 in the morning,
rummaging through a dumpster and made the arrest.
Eric Rudolph is now serving the first of four life
sentences, without the possibility of parole.
To be successful against new and evolving threats,
we must work together as never before.
Together, we will fulfill our mission of protecting
America. The FBI has always been one of the best
law enforcement organizations in the world. Now,
we are working to become the best law enforcement
and national security agency. Like this new building,
the FBI is stronger, more flexible, and more modern--able
to meet whatever challenges lay ahead.
I want to thank a number of individuals whose hard
work helped guide this project through to its completion:
building owners Rick Baier and Cathy Howard; Cheryl
Miller from GSA; and Birmingham Project Managers
Karen Lewis and Sam Mobley.
We appreciate all you have done to see this new
building take shape. With double the space, increased
security, the latest technology, and many more needed
upgrades, this facility is a flagship for our new
mission. It will fully support the handling of sensitive
intelligence information, evidence collection and
processing, computer forensic analysis, and other
modern investigative functions.
I also want to thank our local law enforcement partners
for their cooperation and support. We cannot do
our jobs without you. Thank you for coming today
to celebrate this new office with us.
And I want to thank the men and women of the Birmingham
Division for your service. You are the reason we
are meeting these new challenges. Your dedication
and integrity are what make the FBI a very special
place in which to serve. I think C.W. McPhail would
be proud of you. I know I am proud of you.
It is my hope that we will learn from our history
and that we will incorporate those experiences as
we move forward. History tells us that the FBI responds
in whatever way needed to protect the citizens of
It is to that mission--our mission--which we dedicate
this building and to which I ask that we--as the
FBI, as members of the law enforcement and the intelligence
communities, and as Americans--dedicate ourselves.
Thank you and God bless you.