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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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FBI director Christopher Wray speaks at the Bush School

Photo by Ashely Bautista

FBI Director Christopher Wray receives the flag that flew during the 25th anniversary of the Bush School during the “A Conversation with the Director of the FBI” event at the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center on Wednesday, April 5, 2023.

The FBI Director Christopher Wray spoke with students and staff at Texas A&M about the current goals of the FBI and how they are adapting to an ever changing environment. 

On April 6 at 6 p.m., the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M hosted Wray in the Annenberg Presidential Conference Center to discuss the threats that face the bureau and the nation. 

Wray started the lecture talking about the threats the United States faces from nation-states, such as China, Russia, Iran. Wray said these nations want to shape the world around their authoritarian order. 

Wray said these nations use tools with range to orchestrate terrorist attacks, cyber attacks and military conflicts. These nations are able to implement attacks on businesses, energy grids, regular civilians and the government, Wray said.

“Protecting the American people from terrorism, both international and domestic, remains the FBI’s number one priority, and the terrorism threat today is in many ways as persistent and complex as ever,” Wray said. 

With a growing number of threats, preventing attacks becomes more complex. 

“Cutting across all of those threats, every criminal or national security threat the FBI investigates is growing more complex because of advances in technology,” Wray said. “The FBI’s bread and butter work involves following the money, collecting the evidence, and talking to people. Unfortunately, technology is making all three of those things a lot harder to do.”

In order to overcome the challenges technology poses, the FBI needs to be able to take advantage of all its resources, Wray said.  

“We need to make the best use of every tool at our disposal, including the unique combination of authority the FBI has as both a national security and a law enforcement agency,” Wray said. “One of those tools is our authorities under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.”

FISA, like a criminal wiretap, requires FBI agents to submit an application to the courts in order to get probable cause on a possible foreign target in the states, Wray said. 

Section 702 of FISA, which directly permits surveillance of foreign persons located outside of the U.S., is up for renewal in congress at the end of this year. Wray said the FBI can’t afford to lose this critical tool to help stay ahead of security threats. The FBI has also made large and successful reforms to ensure they are using FISA in a surgical and judicious way.  

Wray said students, no matter their major, should consider a career in public service. 

“There has never been a more important time to have gifted people choose public service,” Wray said. “I can’t miss this chance to encourage you to consider the FBI as the place to do it. I know a lot of young people today value optionality in their careers, the ability to reinvent themselves, to pick up new skills, to change gears often and as I hope you’ve seen from my quick comments tonight, there is a wide range of challenging work to do at the bureau. If you pursue a career with us, I can guarantee you will never get bored.” 

Wray quoted President George H.W. Bush, who said “Public service is a noble calling.”

“I’m told that here at the home of the 12th Man, I’m in a place where people … look forward to jumping in and serving when called to do so, so Aggies consider this your invitation,” Wray said.

Associate professor of the practice at the Bush School Michael Howell helped organize the event. He wanted to give students a chance to see the vast opportunities the intelligence community has to offer. 

“I want [A&M] students and Bush School students to understand that the FBI is a good option for their career,” Howell said.  “If not the FBI, then some other job in the intelligence community.” 

Howell said, as a former student, he wants to help current students be successful. Howell said his former experience as an FBI agent can help achieve that. 

“I was an Aggie, I graduated in [19]91, [A&M] hired me to teach students at the Bush School,” Howell said. “I had contacts in the FBI and wanted students to see the leaders that are with the bureau and get to know them on a more personal level. I thought that would help them inform their decision.”

Howell also extended a hand to all students at A&M and said if you’re interested, reach out. 

“If you’re [an A&M] student, and you want to go into the FBI, come and talk to me or come to the Bush School because we can help set you up for success,” Howell said. 

Dean of the Bush School Mark Welsh said this program was intended to bring someone who leads by example. 

“We wanted to give our students the opportunity to see a really strong leader in the American government,” Welsh said. “Director Wray is doing a number of things in his job. You see it in his leadership with the rest of the FBI and how they keep all of our communities and all of our citizens safe. I think it was great to have him here, he is a remarkable guy with an incredible background.” 

Welsh said he wants students to walk away knowing the importance of public service. 

“Director Christopher Wray is a great public servant,” Welsh said. “This is what we try to produce here at the Bush School and at [A&M].”

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