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University of Iowa News Release


May 14, 2007

Rowley Urges Law Graduates To Defend The Rule Of Law

The United States is in a real mess, former FBI agent Coleen Rowley told the University of Iowa College of Law's graduating class of 2007 Sunday, and the graduates will be the ones who have to fix it.

"There are real messes that need your help to be cleaned up," Rowley told the 199 graduates at ceremonies in Hancher Auditorium. "So please after the graduation celebrations and bar exams are over, please pour your new blood, new energy, and new ideas into these challenges. Our nation needs you to put the critical thinking skills and respect for the rule of law that you have acquired here into immediate use to help guide our country out of the morass and flummery it finds itself in, to help re-establish itself as the great constitutional democracy our founding fathers envisioned."

Rowley is a 1980 UI law graduate who went on to a long career in the FBI. She was named Time magazine's co-Person of the Year in 2002 as a whistleblower, after she publicly criticized flaws in the federal law enforcement and intelligence gathering services that may have helped lead to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Rowley, now retired from the agency, told graduates she went public with her concerns because she worried the federal government's reaction in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks went too far. She said policies and laws like the USA PATRIOT Act put Americans in danger in other ways by sacrificing their civil liberties.

"Imagine a snowball that gets pushed down a hill and picks up mass and momentum," she said. "Once that happens, the decision becomes, do you roll with it, or should you do what you can to try to stop it? My ability to see what was happening and decision to do what I could, even if it meant getting in front of the snowball, was certainly due to the respect for the rule of law and critical thinking skills I gained at the Iowa law school."

Since her retirement, Rowley said she has undertaken numerous public speaking engagements and other educational efforts to return the legal system to one that respects that rule of law and the law of force.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,