Back to basics

Former FBI Director says personal initiative can solve government woes


by Phil Cerroni

Source: Rambler Newspapers

The National Center for Policy Analysis would probably not claim to preach American exceptionalism, but they would admit to breeding exceptional Americans. And although Former FBI Director, Louis Freeh's Oct. 14 speech, part of the Hatton W. Sumners lecture series, did not leave attendees with a thirst for Libertarian revolution, he did impress upon the student-heavy audience that independent thinkers are worth their weight in gold and just about as scarce at the moment.

Besides serving as an FBI agent in the 70s and 80s as well as a New York District Court Judge under George H.W. Bush, Freeh's tenure as the director of the FBI from 1993 to 2001 put him face to face with cover-ups and threats from within and without the government, including the fallout from the Waco Siege, the Unabomber, and Robert Hanssen.

Freeh contrasted the independent thinker with powerful, centralized government, concluding that Americans need to step in to solve the government's problems, not vice versa.

"One of the great features of our country is the individual ability to step away from big government, step away from big enterprise and exercise judgment, independence, the ability to analyze and understand facts on a credible and real-time basis," Freeh said.

He used the current Congressional impasse to highlight the need for principled workers in the ranks of public service.

"There is a premium for young officers, young enlisted (men and women), young agents, young attorneys who critically ask questions, who try to drill down and understand and challenge and push the envelope to understand and make sure we're doing the very best things for the country that we can," Freeh said.

"And it depends on individuality," he continued. "That moment in life when you have to decide to do something because nobody else is going to do it for you, and that's one of the main criticisms of our big bloated government operations."

Freeh echoed the posture James Madison advanced in Federalist 57 regarding the importance of decisive persons directing a limited government:

"The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust," Madison wrote.

Although public servants may be chosen for their civic virtue, it remains the obligation of the general populace to oversee and evaluate their policies and actions. Freeh used the local examples of education and public safety to stress the importance of a thoughtful, involved electorate at all levels of government.

"The education of our children, we have all taken a pretty strong position as a country that that is something that we want under our local control," he said. "We like the idea that there are school board meetings, that we can meet our teachers, that our principals have to come before us, our administrators have to explain their budget. If the standards of the school are slowing down, we want to make sure we want to know about it and to have the ability to correct that," Freeh said, underscoring the pressure parents can exercise on local officials.

"Going back to colonial times, Americans...abhor the idea of a national police, so if I asked you what's the name of that national police force in the United States," Free asked. "There is none. In fact, there are less federal agents than Chicago police officers."

Decentralization, which is at the heart of local accountability, is central to Freeh's interpretation of both the Constitution and the Founders' intent.

"Why do we have this completely fractured, decentralized system?" he asked the crowd."...You don't want the central bureaucracy in Washington controlling what is one of the most important aspects of your life, which is your protection and your physical security.

"With all of the fractured leadership and the paralysis that we see, particularly in the last couple of weeks in Washington, the country is poised for continued greatness in my view," Freeh said. "Just look at the energy revolution here in this state, which is not only going to change the whole foreign policy of the United States.

"You know the innovation, the intellectual property, the genius for invention which is actually memorialized in our constitution because it's such an essential part of our American greatness. It comes down to the individual. It comes down to the young engineer in some software company in some garage out in California."