Monday, 7 November 2011

The importance of the rule of law

[This is the title of an address given by the Director of the FBI, Robert Mueller III, at the National Symposium for United States Court of Appeals Judges, held in Washington DC on 4 November 2011. It reads in part:]

We in the FBI face significant and evolving criminal and terrorist threats. Regardless of the threats we face or the changes we make, we must act within the confines of the Constitution and the rule of law -- every day, in every investigation. Indeed, the rule of law remains our guiding principle -- our lodestar. (...)

How do we prosecute a case where the crime has migrated from one country to the next, with victims around the world? How do we overcome these jurisdictional hurdles and distinctions in the law from country to country?

As a prosecutor for the Department of Justice, I worked with our counterparts in Scotland to investigate the bombing of Pan Am 103 in 1988. With this attack, terrorism hit home for Americans in a profound way.

But for those of us in law enforcement, it brought to light the importance of international partnerships as a bridge between conflicting legal systems. It also brought to light the need for a global presence to meet global threats.

Investigators from Scotland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and the United States worked together in ways we had never experienced before. Partnerships like those forged in Lockerbie have never been more important.

Today, we all understand that working side-by-side is not just the best option, it is the only option. (...)

The FBI has always adapted to meet new threats. And we must continue to evolve to prevent terrorist and criminal attacks, because terrorists and criminals certainly will. But our values can never change.

Regardless of emerging threats, the impact of globalization, or changing technology, the rule of law will remain our guiding principle.

It is fair to say that the FBI has had missteps over the years. But these missteps and mistakes have provided opportunities to improve. And though it may be a cliché to say we have come out of such situations stronger and smarter, it is true.

[Some other Lockerbie-related contributions from and about Mr Mueller can be read here, here and here.]

1 comment:

  1. "How do we overcome these jurisdictional hurdles and distinctions in the law from country to country?"

    Within US borders bribing a court witness is a class C felony, punishable with up to 25 years in jail.

    So, have you prosecuted those involved with the bribing af Tony Gauci?

    Or if needed, have you taken steps to amend the law so it would also apply bribing witnesses in courts outside US?

    Or is it rather that the holes in international law are neatly exploited by an organization that has the money and power, and is without the need to be accountable for anyone?

    Effectively allowing
    CIA to bribe witnesses, fake evidence and suppressing real but unwanted evidence?