The reason for the Bureau's success is no secret. It is due, completely, to the efforts of the men and women who go to work every day to support the mission of the FBI - to protect and defend the United States against terrorist and foreign intelligence threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of the United States , and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to our law enforcement partners within the United States and abroad, while simultaneously safeguarding the civil liberties and civil rights of the American people.
Throughout your history, the FBI has adapted to meet new threats whenever they have arisen.
During the 1920s and 1930s, the FBI took on America's most notorious gangsters and FBI agents tracked down dangerous criminals like John Dillinger and "Baby Face" Nelson. When FBI agents surrounded the man known as "Machine Gun" Kelly, he surrendered - despite his nickname - without firing a shot. As the story goes, he yelled at the government agents, quote, "Don't shoot, G-Men!" The name stuck. And from that day forward, Americans have embraced with pride the G-Men and G-Women of the FBI.
During World War II, the FBI took charge of protecting the homeland. Agents gathered intelligence and infiltrated dangerous spy rings. When a Nazi U-Boat landed off the coast of Long Island in 1942, the FBI apprehended the saboteurs before they could strike. And thanks to the vigilance of the FBI, Nazi agents never again launched another attack on America's homeland.
During the second half of the 20th century, the FBI responded to new challenges. When organized crime networks expanded their reach, FBI agents used new racketeering laws to expand theirs. When the drug trade threatened our cities and children, FBI agents helped in the effort to hand drug traffickers a one-way ticket to prison. And when Soviet agents infiltrated our country and sought to undermine our freedom, FBI agents uncovered them, and put them behind bars.
Today, the men and women of the FBI are writing a new chapter in this proud history. Just as your predecessors adapted to meet the challenges of the 20th century, you are adapting to meet the challenges of the 21st. Those dangers became clear on September the 11th, 2001. On that day, we learned that the oceans which separate us from other continents can no longer protect us from danger. We learned that, whether we like it or not, we are at war against ruthless men who despise freedom, and want to destroy America.
Nearly seven years have passed since that tragic September day without another attack on our homeland. This is not for lack of trying on the part of the terrorists. Since 9/11, the FBI has worked with our partners around the world to disrupt more than a dozen planned terrorist attacks. You have helped save thousands of lives - including travelers at JFK Airport, passengers on New York -bound flights from London , and synagogue members in Torrance, California . And you have earned the lasting thanks of all Americans.
In many cases, we will never know the full stories of the plots you have stopped. And we will never know how many lives you have saved. But we do know this: since the war on terror began, we have put the terrorists on the run - and we have put the FBI hot on their trail.
Since 9/11, counterterrorism has become the FBI's top priority. Under the strong leadership of Director Mueller, the FBI launched a carefully-staged reorganization. Agents who had trained their entire careers for one job suddenly found themselves performing another. Hundreds went from fighting traditional crimes to fighting terrorism overnight. And within months, entire offices began reporting to different divisions. These changes were difficult, but they were necessary. And we are safer today than we were on 9/11 because of them.