Remarks at Ceremonies Marking the 75th Anniversary of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

July 26, 1983

Attorney General Smith, Judge Webster, the special agents and staff, and the distinguished guests of the FBI:

The proclamation that I am about to sign outlines the history and accomplishments of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Believe me, it makes for impressive reading. But I couldn't help thinking this morning that no document or official history of the exploits of the men and women of the FBI could ever really capture what the Bureau, what the letters ``FBI'' themselves mean to the people whose way of life you are sworn to serve and protect.

To the American people you're a legend, and that is rightfully so. FBI agents have always been thought of as a cut above the ordinary, as law enforcement agents whose dedication and professionalism make them a first line of defense against mobsters, spies, corrupt officials, and other professional wrongdoers who prey on the innocent and undermine the moral foundations of our society. The personal qualities of the special agents of the FBI have made the Bureau the most corruption-free institution in the history of law enforcement and one of the most modern and advanced agencies of its kind in the world.

Recently, we've passed through a painful era in American history when it seemed that many of our proudest values and most important institutions were called into question. It's my personal belief that as mindless and destructive as some of the criticism was, its final result has been not only a reaffirmation of those institutions and those values but a new and greater understanding and appreciation for their usefulness and their meaning. The FBI will continue to look to the future, to use the latest and most sophisticated techniques to fight organized crime, white-collar crime, terrorism -- in short, to do what needs to be done to protect the law-abiding people of the United States.

Today, under Judge Webster's leadership, the FBI takes on great new challenges. For the first time you are involved in the investigation of narcotics and dangerous drugs trade, and already you have brought to this endeavor the kind of expertise and skill that we've come to expect of you. You also face the threat of increased KGB and other hostile intelligence activities.

The challenge of crime today in America is a grave one. As you know, upon entering office this administration addressed itself immediately to the economic crisis that we were facing at that time as well as to the dangerous decline that had taken place in our Nation's national security and military strength. Yet even while we worked on these difficult problems we still kept work on the Nation's crime problem foremost in our minds.

Last year, when I announced at the Justice Department our eight-point program for attacking this problem, I was pleased to be able to announce a very sizable expansion of Justice Department personnel, including for the first time in many years additional agents for the FBI. We're now moving forward with other elements of the crime program, and we're doing so methodically and carefully but with one goal in mind. The recent increase in the drug trade, which has led to your new role in this battle, is really a reflection of an even deeper problem: the criminal networks and syndicates that have been tolerated in America for too long. I can only repeat to you that we're going after organized crime, root and branch. Our goal is to break the power of the mob in America and nothing short of it. We mean to end their profits, imprison their members, and cripple their organization.

The FBI has been, and is today, in the forefront of this battle. In recent years you scored admirable successes against professional criminals and their organizations. What is called for now is a renewed national strategy and a unified effort to achieve this objective.

You stand at the forefront of our efforts to detect and counter the increasing hostile intelligence threat to our country. Espionage, theft, and diversion of our technology, and Soviet ``active measures'' threaten us as never before. This part of your duty, about which I can say little in detail here, is vital to our national security, and I ask that you continue to devote the special attention which this difficult task requires.

On this, your 75th anniversary, I ask you to redouble your efforts to break apart and ultimately cripple the criminal syndicates in America. I also ask that you continue to give the highest priority to deterring and countering hostile intelligence activities within the United States. The FBI's record of fidelity, bravery, and integrity is a long and distinguished one. At each turn in your history, when criminals have engaged in new or advanced forms of criminal activity, you have led the law enforcement community in responding to these threats.

Once again, you're being asked by the American people for that kind of leadership, that kind of selfless dedication. I want to say to you that I know that you will respond as you always have -- with excellence and with fervor.

Let me say to all the agents and staff of the Federal Bureau of Investigation the American people are proud of your past and your present, and we're grateful that you will be there for all of the challenges that lie in our future.

And now I will sign the proclamation designating today, July 26th, 1983, as FBI Day. It's nice to recognize something in Washington that's older than I am. [Laughter]

Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:12 a.m. in the courtyard of the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building.