FBI Director Says New Agents Must Visit MLK Memorial

April 29, 2014 - 5:56 AM

FBI Comey

James Comey replaced Robert Mueller as FBI director in 2013. (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - FBI Director James Comey told the Anti-Defamation League on Monday that he will require new FBI agents to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington, just as they must tour the Holocaust Museum as part of their training.

"Like you," Comey told the ADL, the FBI "must always, always side with the good.

"That is why all new agents tour the Holocaust Museum, so that they can see and hear and feel -- in a palpable, nauseating, and gut-wrenching way -- the consequences of the abuse of power on a massive scale. I will continue this practice as we resume new agent classes at Quantico. For just as we must never forget the atrocities of the Holocaust, we must never forget the responsibilities we hold as a law enforcement and national security organization.

"But I will also have our new agents visit the Martin Luther King memorial. I think it will serve as a different kind of reminder -- one more personal to the Bureau -- of the need for fidelity to the rule of law and the dangers in becoming untethered to oversight and accountability."

In the 1960s under the late J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI spied on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., wiretapping his phone among other surveillance measures, in an attempt to discredit him.

Much of Comey's speech on Monday was devoted to hate crimes, which are different from other crimes, he said, because they affect entire communities, not just the individual:

"When a family is attacked because of the color of their skin, it’s not just the family that feels violated, but every resident of that neighborhood. When a teenager is murdered because he is gay, the entire community feels a sense of helplessness and despair. And when innocent people are shot at random because of their religious beliefs -- real or perceived -- our nation is left at a loss."

Comey said the nation must do a better job of tracking and reporting hate crimes -- "to fully understand what is happening in our communities and how to stop it."

And he said education is the key to prevention: "We must do everything in our power to educate people about diversity and the strength that comes from our differences."

Comey noted that since 2010, FBI employees have participated in more than 105 training sessions sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League on extremism, terrorism, and hate crimes. And he said every one of the FBI's 56 field offices is "reaching out to communities where there may be feelings of suspicion or mistrust."

Comey said the FBI and the ADL "share common values and common goals. We both work to protect the lives and liberties of our fellow citizens. We are both building communities that stand united against crime and terrorism. And we are both committed to promoting and defending freedom...freedom to walk down the street without being harmed, freedom to ride the subway without being endangered, freedom to be who and what you are, without judgment or derision. These are the freedoms we all cherish, regardless of race, creed, orientation, or ethnicity."