An F.B.I. Contribution in Eastern Europe

Donald Blinken, New York
Published: Feb. 21, 2018

On the wall in my office is a 1996 photograph taken in Budapest. Among the 10 portrayed facing the camera are a former president of Hungary, Arpad Goncz; Louis Freeh, then the F.B.I. director; Janet Reno, then the attorney general; and me. We were celebrating the first anniversary of the 1995 founding of the International Law Enforcement Academy.

The brainchild of Mr. Freeh, the Budapest-based academy supports training for law enforcement personnel from 26 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and in Central Asia. In 2005, Robert S. Mueller III, then the F.B.I. director, attended the academy’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

Mr. Freeh, the Hungarian government and I had two goals in mind: training law enforcement personnel in the former Soviet bloc in appropriate policing and investigative methods, as enjoyed by the United States and Western Europe, and encouraging these disparate police officials to begin to talk to one another, a practice unknown in the Communist days.

The results in uprooting crime and heading off terrorism have been outstanding. I am persuaded that neither President Trump nor Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who released the memo critical of the F.B.I., has ever heard of the academy, but the American public deserves to know how its interests are being effectively served by the F.B.I. throughout Central and Eastern Europe.

The writer was United States ambassador to Hungary, 1994-98.