prepared for delivery by Director Robert S. Mueller, III, Federal
Bureau of Investigation at the Detroit, Economic Club Detroit,
Michigan October 16, 2003 " Protecting the U.S. Economy in
a Global Age"
am honored - and impressed - to
be on stage with so many leaders from this city. And I am glad
to be together with so many of
you from across the community. Thank you all for being here.
It is good to see Willie Hulon, our Special Agent in Charge for
Detroit. Many people probably do not realize the scope of the cases
that your office investigates, from counterterrorism to corporate
fraud to cyber crime. Willie, my thanks to you and to the men and
women of the FBI for all you do for this city and for our country.
For years, Detroit has played a leadership role in terms of its
industry and innovation, from the Model T to Motown. Today, this
city is also playing a leadership role in terms of security, whether
it is putting terrorist cells and supporters out of business or
performing the non-stop work of protecting the border. I want to
thank and recognize our federal, state, and local partners for
their hard work, especially over the past two years. Without them,
we in the FBI simply could not get the job done.
I realize that most speakers come to the Detroit Economic Club
to talk about things like economics, manufacturing, or export growth.
As you might expect, that will not be my focus today. What I can
give you, however, is a slightly different perspective on the economy
and what it takes to keep our economy strong.
There was an article
a month ago in the Detroit Free Press that talked about signs
of improvement in the nation's economy. It had
an interview with a woman who owns a graphic design company in
Ann Arbor. She said her business had been hit hard by 9/11 but
had since rebounded. She said she was glad to hear about these
positive economic forecasts. But then she added: "If something
big happens again, like another 9/11, we're back to square one."
That thought captures how it is no longer possible to separate
our country's economic well-being from its national security.
Businesses today not only have to contend with the brutal forces
of global competition. They also face criminal and terrorist threats
of such magnitude that they concern even a small business owner
in Ann Arbor.
So today I want to talk about our economy and the many security
threats coming at it with a speed and force we have not seen before.
Then, I want to describe how the FBI is responding to these threats
and how we are working to protect the economy in this global age.
Let me start with the threats and why they concern us.
First and foremost, international terrorism. Al Qaeda and all
of those who subscribe to its brand of extremism are taking direct
aim at our economy like no other terrorists or criminals before
them. Their goal is to destroy the United States. Assaulting our
economy is a means to that end.
September 11th was the most far-reaching and most costly attack
on our nation's economy. Al Qaeda would like to repeat that success.
Their potential targets include shopping malls, skyscrapers, railways,
and subways: whatever will cause panic and disrupt our economy.
The threats reach beyond our borders. Two months ago, on August
5th, the Marriott Hotel in nearby Sterling Heights was having a
fairly routine day. Meanwhile, thousands of miles away, the Marriott
Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, was in a state of emergency after
a suicide bomber had detonated a car packed with explosives.
Why did a terrorist target the Marriott in Jakarta? One important
reason is that American-owned businesses are everywhere. They are
in Detroit and Dresden. They are in New York and New Delhi. Our
global presence has created a world of targets.
Preventing terrorist attacks on America and on American interests
overseas is the FBI's overriding priority. But the threats to our
economy come from far more than just bullets and bombs. They also
come from criminal industries that rob our nation of billions of
dollars in potential GDP.
Theft of trade secrets and critical technologies -- what we call
economic espionage -- costs our nation upwards of $250 billion
a year. The counterfeiting of U.S. goods overseas costs at least
the same amount.
Organized crime has diversified into telemarketing fraud, stock
manipulation, and cyber crimes. And as you might expect in a global
age, organized crime is now an international force. Criminal enterprises
from countries like China, Japan, Hungary, and Russia are here
in the United States, siphoning billions of dollars from companies
Today, however, one does not have to be part of a terrorist network
or a criminal syndicate to do significant damage to our economy.
Thanks to our increasingly interconnected world, isolated individuals
can now launch attacks that cost billions of dollars and impact
millions of people.
Three years ago, you
may recall, a student from the Philippines developed a powerful
computer virus called the "Love Bug." A few
bits of code, by themselves, do not pose much of a threat. But
when they are sent across a global electronic network that connects
hundreds of millions of people, it sets off a worldwide chain reaction.
It is like knocking over a line of dominos, only without knowing
when, where, and how fast they will fall. By the time the "Love" virus
had run its course, millions of systems had been disrupted. The
total damages worldwide were estimated at $8 to $10 billion. And
today, those billion-dollar attacks by individuals are even more
Another example of this new age of high impact crimes is corporate
fraud. The Savings and Loan scandal of the late 80s and early 90s
gave us a taste of how billions of dollars could be lost through
a series of interconnected crimes across the financial industry.
Corporate fraud scandals of the past two years have shown us how
billions can be lost by a single company.
Each month, we open a number of major cases of corporate fraud
that involve manipulations of financial statements at large, publicly-traded
companies. At last count, the FBI has 16 separate cases of corporate
fraud in which the investors have lost at least a billion dollars.
Not one, but two of these investigations represent $80 billion
crimes: Enron and Qwest. That is how much investors lost in each
case because of fraud. And that does not take into account the
number of jobs lost: more than 22,000 at WorldCom and thousands
more at Enron and Tyco.
Eight months ago, we launched a national toll-free hotline for
reporting tips and information. We have already logged nearly 2,000
calls. Over the past three years, I might add, FBI investigations
have led to charges against 176 individuals, with 83 convictions
and guilty pleas.
When it comes to our nation's financial health, corporate fraud
is a particularly insidious crime. It erodes our trust in corporate
institutions and the marketplace, thereby undermining the foundation
of our economy.
In this era of globalization, attacks on our economy can do more
damage, more quickly, than ever before. These attacks come from
within the United States and from beyond our borders. From organized
networks and from isolated players. From nation-states and from
terrorist and criminal groups tied to no particular country.
Knowing what we know now, if you could go back one hundred years
and start designing an agency that could handle all these threats
to our economy, what would you create?
First, you would want this agency to have skilled investigators
to address complex, global investigations. Experts who could determine
the explosive content of a bomb in Baghdad. Agents who could match
a paint chip to nearly every color of car that has rolled off the
assembly lines in Detroit. Scientists who could peer into the DNA
of a cell to establish guilt or innocence in a homicide case. Accountants
who could analyze financial records from Dubai, Geneva, and New
But at the same time, you would want this agency to be able to
look at the world through a wide-angle lens, seeing threats from
local, national, and international perspectives. An agency that
could fight traditional crimes like white collar fraud and complex
threats like terrorism, espionage, and cyber crime. And an agency
with the capability to fight traditional crimes and emerging global
threats in tandem, recognizing that they are increasingly interconnected
-- from terrorists who commit credit card frauds to finance their
operations, to organized crime rings that collaborate with terrorists.
Second, this agency would have the power to arrest and investigate
like any law enforcement agency. Yet, it would also operate in
the complex world of intelligence, gathering countless bits of
raw information, making sense of them, and using them to draw the
Third, this agency would have partnerships across the world so
it could fight crimes and threats to the economy that increasingly
transcend borders. It would be equally at home working with Chief
Oliver in Detroit as it would be with Bashir Wali Mohmaund, Director
General of the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau.
This is the agency needed to defeat the global threats to our
economy. This is the FBI of today. We are in a position to protect
the economy because we straddle the worlds of both crime and terrorism.
We gather intelligence and act on it. We look at threats from a
broad point of view and use scientific precision to disable those
Every day, we work to refine these skills. Every day we are working
to build new skills.
An example is our intelligence capabilities. Reaching outside
the Bureau, we have brought in a long-time expert from NSA to head
up our intelligence program. Each of our field offices now has
an intelligence unit that analyzes local threats. That information
is then centralized in Washington to help paint the national picture.
We are enhancing our ability to take a daily, system-wide snapshot
of our domestic intelligence picture: what we are collecting, how
we are collecting it, and where any gaps in our intelligence might
lie. That is an important step in enabling us to better predict
and prevent attacks.
Technology is a key to that success as well, and it is improving.
We have new analytical tools that help us spot patterns in an endless
sea of information. We are building databases that will integrate
information across all of our cases and programs. In the near future,
our Agents will move to a completely digital case system for the
first time. We are also recruiting our fair share of computer wizards.
Bill Gates should not get them all.
The age of global threats has also propelled the Bureau into an
age of global partnerships.
One phrase you hear
in the FBI these days is "the blurring of
lines." The clear-cut divisions of responsibility and jurisdiction
that once existed between agencies -- and even between the United
States and other countries -- are becoming less and less relevant.
How do you defeat international terrorism, for example, without
the help of countries such as Great Britain, Germany, Saudi Arabia,
Yemen, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Kenya?
Let me give you an example of the type of international challenge
we face today.
In May, a United States scientific research station in Antarctica
reported to us that their systems had been hacked into and their
data corrupted. They sought our help.
Normally, we send our Agents to the scene to investigate. But
no aircraft would be able to land in Antarctica for another six
months because of the sub-freezing temperatures. But working from
a distance, our investigators were able to trace the source of
the intrusion to a server in a trucking company outside Pittsburgh.
From there, we identified two Romanian suspects. With the help
of the Romanian authorities, they were arrested outside Bucharest
Today, cases such as these have become the rule rather than the
exception for the FBI.
That is why the FBI,
like many institutions, has gone global. In 1940, we established
our first international office - what we
call a Legal Attaché or Legat. Today, we have 45 Legal Attachés
around the world. Not only in such cities as London, Paris, and
Rome. But also in places like Islamabad, Riyadh, Seoul, Moscow,
Increasingly, these Legats are helping to stop crime and terror
from being exported to our shores. FBI Agents today are working
with counterparts in places like Romania and Russia to track down
cyber criminals. They are joining forces with the Hungarian National
Police to tackle organized crime syndicates. They are gathering
important pieces of intelligence in Iraq and Afghanistan and hunting
down terrorists in concert with partners in countries like Pakistan,
Morocco, and Indonesia.
In an age where attacks on our economy come from the four corners
of the globe, from the streets of Detroit to the shores of Yemen,
the FBI must be able to call upon a full range of capabilities.
We must combine the tools of law enforcement with the tools of
intelligence to identify and disable threats. We must fight crime
even as we roll up terrorist cells, using the same investigative
capabilities to root out corporate fraud as we use to catch financiers
wiring funds to terrorists. We must work locally, but think globally.
And we must apply our unique strengths even as we share them and
blend them with those of other agencies.
This is the FBI of today, and this is the future of the FBI. With
the support of all of you and our many partners, we are committed
to protecting this city, protecting our nation, and protecting
our nation's economy in the years to come.
Thanks for having me today, and God bless.