New FBI agents will now have to visit the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington as a requirement during training to remind them of the investigative bureau’s past.
FBI Director James Comey, who was just this week installed as the new director after being sworn in last month, said that he was making that a requirement to serve as a lesson to new agents.
“As I think about the unique balance represented by fidelity to independence on the one hand the rule of law on the other, I think it also makes sense for me to offer those in training a reminder closer to our own history,” said Comey on Monday. “I’m going to direct that all new agents and analysts also visit the Martin Luther King Memorial here in Washington.”
During the 1950s and 1960s, the FBI kept files on Dr. King and even wiretapped his phones because they suspected him of communism. The civil rights leader was assassinated in 1968 during an appearance in Memphis, TN, and is arguably the face of the civil rights movement. Comey says that the FBI’s investigation against King during that time was “abuse and overreach” and that new agents need to learn a lesson from it.
"It will serve as a different kind of lesson - one more personal to the bureau - of the dangers of becoming untethered to oversight and accountability," Comey commented.
The FBI enacted a similar policy in 2000, requiring that all new agents visit the Holocaust Museum during training.