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Remarks at the Swearing In of Judge William H. Webster as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation

February 23, 1978

Vice President Mondale and Chief Justice Burger, Senator Eastland, Congressman Rodino, Senators and Congressmen who have come to visit with us, and amateur Georgia historian, Griffin Bell- [laughter] —Director Kelley, and our new Director, Judge Webster:

As President, and as one who has learned a great deal about our Nation the last 2 years, 3 years, especially, I'm deeply aware of the importance of the choice of directorship for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I can't think of any position in our Nation's Government service that can have a more direct influence on the attitude of American people toward their own Government and in strengthening the legitimate ties among people who are interested in local, State, and Federal governments, than the directorship of the FBI.

This is an agency which sets a standard for integrity and for competence, for dedication, for professionalism, for the preservation of the security of our lives and property, and for the protection of the basic rights of American people.

When the FBI does a good job, it makes us all legitimately proud and gives us a feeling of community of purpose and of security. Director Kelley has done a superb job in coming to this important position at a time when strong leadership, good management, and absolute integrity was badly needed. And he has not disappointed us in any of those respects. And Director Kelley, as President, I would like to express my deep, personal thanks to you for your tremendous contribution.

Tremendous progress has already been made, but we still have a need and an opportunity to make more changes and more progress. Investigative techniques, using modern technology and a closer working relationship among all law enforcement agencies and private citizens, can certainly be improved. A constant reassessment of priorities, of assignment of your superb personnel in the FBI, can certainly still be modified and improved.

A reaffirmation of the commitment of the powers and authority of the FBI can be emphasized to protect human rights, the civil rights, the privacy of American citizens within the letter and the spirit of our Constitution and our laws.

It's obvious, too, that the FBI can, through its leadership role and through its broad range of knowledge and responsibility, even improve its relationship with other Federal agencies and, particularly, those that are responsible for law enforcement.

I think it's obvious that the new Director takes on one of the most difficult assignments in Government. He is superbly qualified. As a distinguished attorney, as a United States attorney, as a district judge, and as a circuit judge, he has learned the responsibilities of enforcement of the law, the interpretation of the law, in both a theoretical and a practical

Because of the enhanced stature of the directorship, Griffin Bell and I had an almost unlimited capability of choosing the very top person in our country, and we have been successful in doing this. I'm very proud that Judge Webster has been willing to assume this responsibility.

This has been done on the basis of nonpartisanship, or bipartisanship. I think it's fair to say that Judge Webster is a human being. He's a Republican, which proves his fallibility. [Laughter] So he should feel completely at home with the rest of us. [Laughter] We serve in an often fallible way here in Washington.

I would like to assure the Chief Justice, at his request, that I will not make any more incursions into the Federal judiciary during my term of office for a Director of the FBI. [Laughter] Now I feel that he owes me one. [Laughter] I'll reserve the right to call on him in the future.

The last thing I would like to say is this: On behalf of myself, the Vice President, the members of the Cabinet, all those who serve with us, and, I think, in particular, me, I pledge to Judge Webster my absolute and total confidence, my deepest political and personal commitment to cooperate with him as full partners in preserving the standards which have, through the ages, made our Nation so great.

It's a partnership that I feel is of superb importance to our country. And I'm very proud to have a man like Judge Webster who has undertaken to even enhance the tremendous public record and the tremendous reputation of one of the finest organizations in Government and, certainly, the finest law enforcement agency in the world.
Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 1:52 p.m. in the auditorium of the J. Edgar Hoover F.B.I. Building. Prior to his remarks, Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger administered the oath of office to Judge Webster.

Jimmy Carter, Remarks at the Swearing In of Judge William H. Webster as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244505

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