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Remarks By President Barack Obama And Robert Mueller, Director Of The Federal Bureau Of Investigation


Location: Washington, DC

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(Cheers, applause.)

MR. MUELLER: Good morning.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning.

MR. MUELLER: Good morning.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning!


MR. MUELLER: Good morning to all of you -- (scattered cheers) -- and especially to our guest, President Barack Obama. (Cheers, applause.)

Mr. President, on behalf of every one of the employees you see here before you and around the world -- (cheers) -- it is my privilege to welcome you to the FBI. (Cheers, applause.)

But before we begin, we would like to present you with several special mementos to mark your first official visit to the FBI. (Scattered cheers.)

And as you should know, we are not above using this occasion for recruiting purposes. (Laughter.) We are always looking for talented special agents. But you are a wee bit past our age limit. (Laughter.) And in any event, you do have another job.

However, it is not too early for Sasha and Malia -- (laughter, cheers) -- to start thinking about joining the FBI. (Scattered cheers.) And so we would like to send you home with two official bureau teddy bears for them --


MR. MUELLER: -- as well as T-shirts -- (cheers, applause) --

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Great. Nice. (Chuckles.)

MR. MUELLER: -- as well as, for you, an FBI cap. (Laughter, cheers.)

We hope that -- (cheers, applause) --


MR. MUELLER: It fits. Good. (Off mike.)

Mr. President, on Inauguration Day, we were all honored that you stepped out of the motorcade right here, in front of FBI headquarters, to walk past our house, on the way to your house. (Cheers, applause.) And we are just as honored to have you here with us today.

This may not be the most beautiful building in Washington -- (laughter) -- but it is one of the most important. It is the hub of the organization charged with protecting America from crime and terrorism, while also protecting the civil liberties we all cherish.

Though this may be the FBI's headquarters, there are thousands of FBI employees spread throughout the country and the world. Wherever they are stationed, they represent the FBI's tradition of fidelity, bravery and integrity. It is a tradition that goes back more than 100 years, to President Theodore Roosevelt.

Today though the FBI threats are much more diverse and global. They range from terrorism to espionage, from public corruption to violent crime. And yet today's FBI is uniquely equipped to address these challenges. As threats continue to evolve, so to will the FBI. But what has never changed and will never change are our values.

For over 100 years, we have pledged to serve and to protect our nation, and to do so while upholding the rights and the liberties guaranteed to every citizen, under the Constitution. To the men and women of the bureau, fidelity, bravery and integrity are more than just a motto. They are a way of life.

Mr. President, the men and women standing here today and their colleagues throughout the world share a dedication to defending freedom that is unparalleled. It is and has been the history of the FBI. And it is and will be the future of the FBI.

We in the FBI appreciate the enormity of the task before you. We offer you our full support. And we will continue to do everything in our power to safeguard this nation. Thank you again for coming here today. It is an honor to introduce to you the men and women of the FBI, just as it is now my honor to introduce you to them.

Ladies and gentlemen, the president of the United States. (Cheers, applause.)

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody. (Cheers, applause.) Well, it is a good excuse for you to be outside on a nice day. (Cheers.) And it is a great honor to be here with the men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I am grateful to the FBI for the t-shirts -- (laughter) -- for the teddy bear for the girls. Even though we've kept our promise on the dog, I wouldn't want to come home empty-handed. (Laughter.)

I want to thank your outstanding director, Robert Mueller -- (cheers, applause) -- not just for the introduction, but because Bob has led the bureau during incredibly challenging times. He became only the sixth director of the FBI just one week before the 9/11 attacks. And since then, he has worked as hard as anybody to prevent additional attacks and to carry out the FBI's enormous responsibilities. So I appreciate him and I appreciate all of you. Thank you. (Cheers, applause.)

So last summer, the FBI celebrated its 100th anniversary. I think it's safe to say that it has been an eventful century for the bureau. Back in 1908 -- oh -- somebody -- somebody faint? Do we have a(n) EMT here? Right down here. Just give them a little bit of space. This happened during my political campaign all the time. (Laughter.) I was talking too long; people would be falling out every which way. (Laughter.) They're usually fine. They just need a little bit of -- a little bit of air and a little bit of water. Right down here, right in the middle. Not you. You're doing fine. (Laughter.) Right in here. All right. I think they'll be all right.

So back in 1908, there were just 34 special agents reporting to Theodore Roosevelt's attorney general. Today, there are over 30,000 men and women who work for the FBI. Back in 1908, those agents worked out of one building here in Washington, and today you work here at FBI headquarters and at field offices across America and in countries around the world. So much has changed in the last 100 years. Thank God for change. (Cheers, applause.)

And part of what makes the FBI so unique is its ability to adapt to an ever-changing world.

Back in 1908, even the most imaginative of minds would have struggled to anticipate all of the challenges that would confront the Bureau, from bank robbers to bootleggers, from hate crimes to white- collar criminals, from public corruption to counterintelligence, from international terrorism to cyber threats. The challenges of the 21st century have called on us to think anew and to act anew. And in recent years, the Bureau has undergone a profound transformation to keep pace.

With the attacks of 9/11, your mission became focused more than ever before on prevention, so we have the capacity to uncover terrorist plots before they take hold. With the spread of new technologies, you increasingly confront adversaries in unconventional areas, from trans-national networks to cyber crimes and espionage. And through it all, you must continue to stay one step ahead of all who step outside of the law.

And I know that change means much more than moving around some boxes in an organizational chart. You've set new priorities, you've developed new capabilities, you are working to use new technologies and teach new skills. And because these challenges cross borders, both seen and unseen, you've developed new partnerships abroad, while sharing information more effectively with law enforcement here at home.

This is a tough business, but it is essential to protecting our country, because in the end, it's your hard work that makes the difference: your decisions, your analysis, your action. Because of you, the men and women of the FBI, the American people are safer and our country is stronger. For that, you have my personal gratitude, but you also have the thanks of a grateful nation.

So I know that much has changed in the last 100 years, but, as your director said, I know that some things have remained constant. And that starts with the values that we have sworn to uphold: liberty and equality, opportunity and the rule of law. That's the foundation upon which America is built. That's the purpose that has always guided our power. And that is why we must always reject as the false -- as false choices the choice between our security and our ideals.

In so many ways, the FBI is a unique institution. You're unique because the FBI is both an intelligence agency and a law-enforcement agency. You must both prevent danger and help us pursue those who carry it out. You protect us and you protect the civil liberties that we cherish. But after all, that is why America is unique, because of that fundamental belief that we are committed both to our security and to the rule of law, because of that hard-earned truth that we are always stronger when we act in concert with our most deeply-held values.

I have -- have no illusions that this is simple or easy. Many of you made enormous sacrifices and are incredibly dedicated. And living our values means that we must hold ourselves to higher standards than our enemies. We face a long struggle against a determined adversary. We know that al Qaeda is not constrained by a constitution or by allegiance to anything other than a hateful ideology and a determination to kill as many innocents as possible.

But what makes the United States of America so special is precisely the fact that we are willing to uphold our values and our ideals not just when it's easy but when it's hard. (Applause.) We've been called to serve in such a time.

And I have to say that I am heartened by what I see here today. Each of you has made the decision to serve your country. You're doing so at a critical time. And, you know, none of us can know with -- certain what the future will hold. But I do know that the FBI can and will continue to adapt to new dangers, that you will be critical in leading the way in keeping this country safe. And we are counting on you.

There's much to celebrate from the FBI's first 100 days. We remember notorious criminals who've been caught and public corruption that's been ended and civil rights that have been protected and terrorist plots that have been uncovered. None of that would have been possible without the work of men and women like you. And we're calling on you again.

Behind me is the motto that you carry forward and that your director alluded to: Fidelity, Bravery and Integrity. These are more than just words etched into a building. They're a signal of the character of the men and women who work here. And I am confident that if you stay true to those words, no matter what challenge may come our way, we'll be able to look back a hundred years from now with the satisfaction that you advanced the cause of America's security and America's ideals in your time. What an enormous gift that is to give back to your country.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

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