FBI has a long history of upholding the rule of law

  • Author: Karen Loeffler
    | Opinion
  • Updated: February 6, 2018
  • Published February 6, 2018

It's time to talk about the FBI I have known and worked with for almost 30 years. These are the men and women who take an oath to uphold the laws and Constitution of the United States, protect the public from all enemies foreign and domestic and do so with honesty, integrity and a dedication to justice. In the past 30 years I have worked with dozens of agents, on hundreds of cases. These people matter to the public safety in our community, in the nation, and they are a shining beacon of what the rule of law means throughout the developing world.

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Locally, here in Alaska, our FBI enjoys a tremendous working relationship with state and local public safety. They not only respond, 24/7 to public safety emergencies, they work carefully and meticulously on long-term investigations. They partner with other agencies and public safety officers to fight violent crime, crimes against children, white-collar frauds, environmental crime, cyber intrusions and other forms of identity theft and the broadest array of cases of any federal agency. They are also deeply engaged in the top priority of fighting terrorism and foreign threats to our country and its institutions. And, they do so always with the knowledge that integrity, honesty and dedication to the rule of law is central to any investigation and prosecution.

To illustrate the latter, it is important to remember that every time an agent swears out a warrant or testifies in court, they raise their right hands and take an oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. Those oaths are not just words; they are meaningful to each agent's career. Any finding that an agent has been knowingly or recklessly untruthful is investigated by the FBI office of professional responsibility and can mean an end to an agent's career. The agents I have known and worked with all take their obligation to truth and honesty as a trust and a central duty. I have sat in my former office as an assistant U.S. attorney, on more than one occasion at midnight, going line by line through a warrant application, checking each word and sentence against the gathered evidence and witness statements to make sure that everything written was completely accurate. I have done the same time and again with draft indictments.

In none of these interactions was politics, their vote or personal ideology part of the discussion. One of the great joys of working as a prosecutor for the past 30 years was working with people who are passionately dedicated to a mission that we all care about, that serves our community and our country, and that makes you proud to go to work every day.

I have also been privileged to see our FBI overseas mission in action and know how important the bureau is to our partners in developing nations overseas. Recently, while on vacation, I visited one of our local agents who is stationed in a developing nation. While we were taking a day off with her family to tour the country, and while I was staying with her, the phone was ringing and pinging virtually nonstop. These were calls and requests from law enforcement in the country she is stationed in and surrounding countries. They were contacts from law enforcement in these countries who wanted her help, just wanted to connect with her, and you could easily tell felt privileged to be able to know and work with someone they saw as the pinnacle of professional law enforcement.

It was a reminder that to police and law enforcement in other countries, the FBI is seen as the beacon of professional law enforcement. The United States and our agents are seen as the epitome of a country under the rule of law, where law enforcement is responsive only to the laws and not the whims of government leadership.

I have also worked with numerous FBI supervisors and met and listened to presentations from many of the past FBI directors. Without exception, the talks and presentations were about priorities of the service, how to best get the job done and what it means to be an agent and a representative of the Department of Justice. Politics never entered into any of these discussions.

As citizens who depend on these dedicated professionals, we rightfully need to hold them to the high standards we expect of them. At the same time, it is incumbent on us to defend them against wrongful attacks and those who would try to politicize this proud and dedicated force.

Karen Loeffler served as United States attorney for the District of Alaska from 2009 through March 10, 2017. Prior to that, she was an assistant U.S. attorney in the office for over 20 years.

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