ST. PAUL -- Fame has allowed her the chance to try to make a difference in the world, Coleen Rowley says, but she insists that it has come at a price.
"The stuff like the pictures and stuff, I really don't care for. I don't like this stuff," she said in an interview Friday between lectures on legal and law ethics at Hamline University. "The publicity is kind of a bad aspect."
She's tasted enough to know.
Rowley is the legal counsel for the Minneapolis bureau of the FBI who gained fame for exposing Sept. 11-related intelligence failures. Time Magazine named her one of its Persons of the Year for her efforts.
This week, she was back in the public eye after publicizing a letter she sent to her boss that questioned whether the nation is prepared to deal with a flood of terrorism that may be ignited by a war in Iraq.
In the larger of the two college forums, Rowley received a sustained ovation from a spillover crowd of 300, many of whom wore anti-war buttons.
But she was deliberately, carefully, not speaking about the issues raised in her recent letter. The topic of her two lectures was the difference between law enforcement ethics and legal ethics. On that, Rowley expressed a clear preference.
"Law enforcement ethics and basic human decency, I think, largely overlap," she said. She's not so sure about legal ethics, though, especially demands for a strict adherence to confidentiality vows between lawyers and their clients, even when keeping secrets could harm the public good.
The speech stuck doggedly to the topic at hand, to the point that she warned the crowd after its initial applause: "You might want to save it."
Still, it was hard not to see parallels with Rowley's own efforts to demand more of the FBI, particularly when she stressed the bureau's own ethics policies.
One slide defined the purpose of an ethical code: "When you do the right thing, in the right way at the right time and for the right reason, we achieve credibility and we are trusted as an organization."
She opened up a bit more in the interview.
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