Corruption is non-partisan
By Jim Kouri
The recent news stories regarding Washingtion lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his plea agreement, which threatens to rock the US Congress on both sides of the aisle, is creating renewed interest in stamping out this evil within our government.
Unfortunately, many leaders in our nation's capital are trying to use corruption allegations in order to garner votes in upcoming elections. The American people must be made to understand that corruption is a matter of the individual and not the political party. While the news media are concentrating on individuals such as Republicans Tom Delay, Bill Frist and Bob Ney, the Democrat Party has its own problems in the Abramoff case such as Harry Reid. The fact of the matter is public corruption is non-partisan. It's probably one of but a very few issues that can be called non-partisan in today's political climate.
Public corruption poses the greatest single threat to the credibility of government institutions at all levels. For instance, corruption by those controlling the nation's ports of entry and handling the issuance of visas and other identity documents opens our country's borders to potential terrorists and other criminal actors.
Some of the most sensitive and highest impact investigations center on executive and legislative officials, as evidenced by the recent indictments of a former Illinois Governor, a former Texas Attorney General, and sitting members of Congress.
The FBI's Southwest Border Corruption Initiative will continue to target those officials who, by misuse of their public office, negatively affect commerce between the United States and Mexico, aggravate drug trafficking and violent gang activity, and endanger the security of our nation.
Finally, when US businesses bribe officials to illegally compete in the international marketplace, the FBI investigates under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act to prevent adverse impact on national security and foreign policy priorities.
The serious increase in cases of law enforcement officers forming or supporting drug trafficking enterprises threatens the safety and security of our streets. Corruption within correctional facilities undermines our criminal justice and judicial system. When military contracts involving vital defense and weapons systems become the subject of bribery and kickbacks, national security is directly weakened.
Many major metropolitan areas have witnessed the indictment and conviction of public officials for corruption related activity, with public money being misused for private gain. Along with the increasing frequency of all types of corruption, the level of sophistication and complexity of this criminal activity present special challenges.
Corruption allegations are among the most sensitive matters addressed by the FBI. They must be investigated quickly, fairly, and accurately. Using a variety of federal statutes and investigative techniques, the FBI focuses investigations on all levels of government --federal, state, and municipal -- and all branches of government -- executive, legislative, and judicial.
Approximately 50 percent of the FBI's public corruption investigations involve law enforcement officers, chiefly due to the sheer number of officers in the United States.
Similarly, allegations against municipal and state public officials, frequently involving contract or regulatory matters, are regularly investigated because of the large number of such officials.
In almost every case, greed is the principal motivating factor in public corruption. Over the next five years, government funding will expand, providing increased opportunity for government officials to engage in corruption. Similarly, as the United States increases security at the borders and in the issuance of identification documents, criminal enterprises will expand their recruitment efforts of public and law enforcement officials to bypass the increased security.
Recognizing that any corruption within our nation's law enforcement agencies directly undermines public safety, the FBI aggressively investigates these crimes. The proliferation of drug trafficking enterprises in the past decade has led to increased corruption of public officials along the southwest border of the United States, who facilitate drug trans-shipments into the United States.
Corrupt officials also facilitate illegal immigration, and this is expected to increase over the next five years. There is a serious concern that drug and alien smuggling organizations could be used by terrorists to facilitate their entry into the United States, and corrupt officials dramatically increase the success of smuggling operations. The FBI will need to increase its efforts in this arena to minimize the national security implications.
Rapid, fair, and accurate investigation of corruption allegations against federal, state, and local officials will remain an FBI imperative. This is critical because of the sensitive nature of accusations against public officials, coupled with the tremendous loss of public funds and confidence when corruption occurs.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police and he's a staff writer for the New Media Alliance. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. Kouri writes for many police and security magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com. Kouri's own website is located at http://jimkouri.us
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