Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Louis Freeh To Be FBI Director
Good morning. Please sit down. Mr. Vice President; Attorney General Reno; the Acting FBI Director, Floyd Clark; former Director of the FBI, Judge William Webster, we're delighted to have you here. Senator D'Amato; Judge Robert Bonner, the DEA Administrator; the representatives of all the law enforcement agencies who are here and the friends and family of the nominee to be the next Director of the FBI.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is the Federal Government's cutting edge in the fight against crime. Its agents are the best trained in the world. Its sophisticated technology enables law enforcement agents to catch criminals with a fragment of a fingerprint. As we saw only recently in the remarkably swift arrest in the World Trade Center bombing, the Agency continues its preeminent place in the law enforcement world. The Agency itself must clearly adapt to new times. It must continue the progress of opening its ranks to minorities and to women that began in recent years. It must work cooperatively with other agencies in the United States and in international partnerships against crime with police forces of other nations.
Yesterday I announced my intention to appoint a new Director of the FBI. Today I am pleased to nominate a law enforcement legend to be the Director of the FBI, Judge Louis Freeh. Judge Freeh knows the FBI. He is a highly decorated former agent and supervisor. He has investigated and prosecuted some of the most notorious and complex crimes of our time. He is experienced, energetic, and independent. He will be both good and tough, good for the FBI and tough on criminals.
It can truly be said that Louis Freeh is the best possible person to head the FBI as it faces new challenges and a new century. He has spent his career in the Federal justice system. After working his way through law school, he became an FBI agent. He knows the Agency as only an agent can, working the dangerous streets. He helped lead the waterfront investigations that led to the criminal convictions of 125 people, including leading organized crime figures.
From the FBI, Judge Freeh became a Federal prosecutor in New York City. He prosecuted and won convictions against the leaders of what was then the largest heroin importation case in our history, the legendary "Pizza Connection" case. The trial lasted over a year. Among other defendants, Judge Freeh sent the head of the Sicilian mafia to jail. Observers were dazzled. He was called, and I quote, "one of the Government's toughest investigators, a ramrod-straight and ferocious crusader against the mob, an investigative genius."
Three years ago, as Judge Freeh neared the end of his work as a prosecutor, the Department of Justice selected him to head a special task force in one of the most notorious and difficult criminal cases of our day. A mysterious bomber was at work in the South, mailing parcels that killed Federal Judge Robert Vance near Birmingham, Alabama, and civil fights leader Robbie Robinson in Savannah, Georgia. Many predicted that the case would never be solved. But led by Louis Freeh, the task force tracked down the bomber, and Freeh himself prosecuted the case and obtained convictions. The bomber is now serving seven life terms in prison. In recognition of his service to the law, President Bush appointed Louis Freeh to the Federal bench. Now Judge Freeh has agreed to leave that lifetime post to serve his Nation once again in a difficult new job. There are few jobs in our Government that are more important.
Our Federal law enforcement agencies face an ever-changing array of threats. Drugs continue to ravage our young people and our streets. Law-abiding citizens can be caught in the crossfire between gangs, today equipped like armies. White-collar swindlers practice inventive forms of what Al Capone once called "the legitimate rackets." And our Nation, so long immune from the terrorism that has plagued the world, now faces that threat, too.
With Attorney General Janet Reno, Drug Policy Coordinator Lee Brown, and now, we hope, FBI Director Louis Freeh, our administration has a street-smart front line against crime. These law enforcers did not learn about crime in theory books, they learned about it on the streets and in the courtroom. And they have learned the best lessons of State and local enforcers. With all of their hard-won experience, this crime fighting team can work hard every day to protect the American people's fight to safety in their homes and in their communities.
I must tell you that I am very proud and very grateful that Judge Freeh was willing to leave his lifetime appointment on the Federal bench for the somewhat less secure work that the rest of us find in the executive branch. [Laughter] I hope the American people will be grateful as well, and I look forward to his speedy confirmation.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:27 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.
William J. Clinton, Remarks Announcing the Nomination of Louis Freeh To Be FBI Director Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/219931