49th anniversary commemorating the birth and work of Charles J. Bonaparte
(Washington, 11 June 2009)
On behalf of the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, His Excellency Giovanni Castellaneta, I wish to thank the Historical Society of America for today’s commemoration.
We are remembering Charles Bonaparte, 46th Attorney General, as a founder, on the instruction of President Roosevelt, of a detective division of the Department of Justice in 1908, that was the seed of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, giving this country, for the first time in its history, its first federal criminal investigations office.
But let me say that we are also focusing on the role of the Italian Americans in this great country, surely the most brilliant example, that was able to leave an unforgettable moral and institutional legacy.
Everyone knows all over the world about the efficiency, professionalism and dedication of the FBI serving the public and the government.
But most should also know how important and successful the friendship and collaboration between the United States and Italy, and specially between FBI and the Italian police forces to fight against the most dangerous criminal threat of the last century, the organized crime so called “mafia”.
And we must thank the initiative of the Attorney General Charles Bonaparte, if today, with the sacrifice of those, in both our country, with the courage of the brave, and deeply observing the rules of the law, lost their lives to grant us more secure nations, and liberty from the oppression of organized crime.
We can say that Charles Bonaparte opened the door to the house of honesty, built with the ideals to which he dedicated his entire life.
The utopia of the good government in the philosophy of the 19th century, which you can also find in the Italian literature, for him was a concrete daily practice, well explained in his writings and speeches, full of his sense of justice.
It was the same concrete utopia of two members of the Italian parliament, of the minority group, of the same century, Sonnino e Franchetti. They went to Sicily for an unofficial inquiry in 1877 and made a report describing, for the first time, the Mafia as an “industry of violence” .
The Attorney General Charles Bonaparte, this pioneer of justice and freedom, aimed from a compelling civil passion, ennobled not only his time, but he is still present in the spirit and into the work of each woman and man who have or have been the great honor to be a part of the FBI in the US, and also in the many who in the italian police forces and in the judiciary cooperate for the common ideal to ensure that the honest people should prevail.
I would thank once more the Historical Society of America, because, giving to me the great privilege to speak, they gave me also the extraordinary opportunity to read some of the wonderful writings of Charles Bonaparte.
What was so clear in his mind, was also clear in his words.
In a speech entitled “Can We Have a Good Government,” he concludes with a sentence that, more or less, paraphreses what Giovanni Falcone, an Italian judge killed by the mafia, said to me when I was a young judge: “ To fight against the mafia it is only necessary that everyone does his duty”.
Charles Bonaparte said “Freedom is not the birthright of slumberers”.
The example of these extraordinary persons still light the path of those who are working today to improve justice and freedom in our countries.