FC: Ashcroft's speech on opening NSA, CIA databases to police

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Tue Nov 13 2001 - 14:41:28 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Virginia Beach votes to install facecams on streets"

    Attorney General John Ashcroft spoke today to an "Anti-Terrorism 
    Coordinators Conference" organized by the Executive Office for United 
    States Attorneys (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/).
    An excerpt from Ashcroft's prepared remarks:
    >Today I am issuing a second directive to provide training to federal, 
    >state and local law enforcement in the use of all available resources in 
    >the war on terrorism, including training on foreign intelligence, how to 
    >identify it and with whom to share it... In addition to these fundamental 
    >changes, I am establishing a National Law Enforcement Coordinating 
    >Committee on Counter-Terrorism.
    I obtained this transcript and the earlier Politech message from the 
    Justice Department:
    "USA PATRIOT opens CIA, NSA, intelligence databases to police"
    Also see:
    "Three DOJ documents: Wiretapping, searches, computer seizures"
    Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
    (NOTE: The Attorney General often deviates from Prepared Remarks)
    Anti-Terrorism Conference
    November 13, 2001
             It is a pleasure to have this opportunity to address you today.  I 
    want to begin by doing something that doesn't get done often enough and 
    that is to thank you for your hard work, particularly in these past 
    weeks.  I thank not just you but your families as well.  Some of the 
    greatest burdens of public service are bourne by the husbands, wives, 
    children and parents we leave behind each day.  Our family members too have 
    sacrificed, and they, too are deserving of our thanks and gratitude.
             This has been a difficult time for our nation, a time that has 
    dramatically tested the strength, spirit and resolve of all 
    Americans.   For two months America has been keenly aware of the new and 
    continuing threat of terrorism.
             For two months we have endured the video-taped tauntings of Osama 
    Bin Laden.
             For two months, Americans have had their lives disrupted.  Law 
    enforcement has had to work overtime.   But throughout dozens of warnings, 
    a deliberate campaign of terrorist disruption, and tighter security around 
    potential targets, America has only grown stronger.
             Americans have made difficult adjustments, and so too have the men 
    and women of justice and law enforcement.
             The attacks of September 11 have redefined the mission of the 
    Department of Justice.  Defending our nation and its citizens against 
    terrorist attacks is now our first and overriding priority.
             We are engaged in an aggressive arrest and detention campaign of 
    law breakers with a single objective: to get terrorists off the street 
    before they can harm more Americans.  We have modeled our tactics after a 
    previous Justice Department, fighting a different threat to the nation.
             The Justice Department of Robert F. Kennedy, it was said, would 
    arrest a mobster for "spitting on the sidewalk" if it would help in the 
    fight against organized crime.  In the war on terror, it is the policy of 
    this Department of Justice to be equally aggressive in protecting 
    Americans.  We will arrest and detain any suspected terrorist who has 
    violated the law.   Our efforts, in all cases, will be conducted with full 
    respect for the rights and freedoms of all Americans.   But make no 
    mistake:  terrorists who are in violation of the law will be convicted, in 
    some cases deported, and in all cases prevented from doing further harm to 
             Last week I announced a sweeping wartime reorganization of the 
    Department of Justice that places a high priority on cooperation and 
    coordination between Washington and state and local prosecutors and law 
    enforcement.  Our plan calls for re-focusing on our core mission and 
    responsibilities with the understanding that the Department will not be all 
    things to all people.  We cannot do everything we once did because lives 
    now depend on us doing a few things very well.
             We will re-focus our resources on front-line positions.  The war 
    on terrorism will be fought not in Washington but in the field, by agents, 
    prosecutors, investigators and analysts.  Our long-term goal is to transfer 
    10 percent of current headquarters-based positions to the field offices 
    where citizens are served and protected.
             Our new mission requires not just a new structure but a new 
    approach to our jobs.  In evaluating the merits of a prosecution, Assistant 
    United States Attorneys must consider more than the scale of the case but 
    the likelihood that the prosecution may disrupt and dismantle terrorist 
    networks.  In the changed world in which we now live, a seemingly routine 
    prosecution of an immigration violation may be much more important than a 
    million-dollar fraud case, because the immigration prosecution or minor 
    identity theft case may remove a terrorist operative from our community.
             It is critical that we begin to view our responsibilities as 
    justice officials in the fight against terrorism from the standpoint of the 
    culture as a whole, not just the individual case at hand.  Individuals who 
    perpetrate anthrax hoaxes, for instance, have committed serious violations 
    of the law and must be charged and prosecuted accordingly.
             Perpetrators of these crimes often claim that they are meant to be 
    "just between friends."  But the fact is, anthrax hoaxes do not long remain 
    "just between friends."  They involve serious diversions of resources from 
    already taxed police, FBI and emergency response systems.  The cost to the 
    taxpayers from this waste of time and energy runs into the tens of 
    thousands of dollars per incident.  As prosecutors, you wouldn't view the 
    theft of thirty thousand dollars from the U.S. Treasury as a harmless 
    joke.  Terrorist hoaxes aren't harmless jokes either. They're costly, 
    serious offenses that demand a serious response.
                     As you know, on September 17th, I  directed each United 
    States Attorney's Office  to establish Anti-Terrorism Task Forces that 
    bring together federal and state and local anti-terrorism officials.  These 
    Anti-Terrorism Task Forces serve three distinct purposes:
             -       first, to gather information from and disseminate 
    information to  federal, state, and local agencies;
             -       second, to use swiftly and intelligently such information 
    to prevent future attacks from occurring;
             -       and, third, to ensure an efficient, effective, and 
    coordinated response to any future terrorist incident in a particular district.
             To those of you who have been selected as Anti-Terrorism 
    Coordinators for your Districts, I congratulate you.   You have been 
    entrusted with a great responsibility.  Remember that the experience, 
    determination, and professionalism you bring to this job are lessons and 
    examples for those who work with you and look to you for leadership.
             Task Force Coordinators will be responsible for ensuring that 
    federal, state, and local law enforcement are communicating regularly 
    regarding potential terrorist activity.  You will be responsible, as well, 
    for insuring that the information highway is not a one-way street.  Just as 
    federal officials must have access to information collected at the state 
    and local level, Task Force members from state and local police must have 
    access to appropriate information available to federal agencies.
             The battle against terrorism will require an unprecedented level 
    of cooperation among all members of the law enforcement community and 
    beyond.   As I have said before, I want to emphasize again today how 
    crucial it is that we share with the necessary federal or state agencies, 
    as soon as possible, any information that exposes a credible threat to the 
    public or national security - even though this may hinder a criminal 
    investigation. Prevention of terrorist attacks - even at the expense of 
    prosecution - must be our priority.
             To facilitate this communication, today I am issuing a directive 
    to all United States Attorneys mandating that they begin immediately to 
    develop communications protocols for sharing information with state and 
    local leaders.  Each district is to designate a Chief Information Officer 
    to serve on its Anti-Terrorism Task Force.  This officer will consult with 
    state and local officials on how best to disseminate information within the 
    district.  Based on these suggestions, and by December 1 of this year, each 
    district will develop communications protocols for sharing information with 
    state and local leaders on the Anti-terrorism Task Forces, as well as 
    chiefs of police and elected officials who may not be members of the Task 
    Force in their district.
             Effective communication is vital because the Task Forces will be 
    one of the primary vehicles through which we call upon the assistance of 
    our state and local partners.  As you know, I have just directed the Task 
    Forces to coordinate the interviews of individuals who we believe may have 
    information helpful to our investigative or prevention efforts.   By 
    necessity, many, if not most, of these interviews will be conducted by 
    members of state and local law enforcement.  Task Force Coordinators will 
    be responsible for collecting interview reports so that the information 
    they contain may be thoroughly analyzed.  We recognize that this will be a 
    time-consuming and complicated task, but it is critical that we expand our 
    knowledge of terrorist networks operating within the United States.    This 
    intelligence gathering initiative only serves to underscore the obvious: 
    September 11th changed us and changed the way we do our jobs.
             The Department has worked and will continue to work with Congress 
    to obtain the additional tools we need to fight effectively against 
    terrorism.  The recently passed anti-terrorism legislation-the USA Patriot 
    Act of 2001-- accomplished much to improve the effectiveness of law 
    enforcement's efforts to intercept and stop terrorists.
             In particular, the new law gives us an expanded ability to share 
    information between and within the law enforcement and intelligence 
    communities.  Our ability to share information is only as good as our 
    capacity to identify useful intelligence.  Therefore, today I am issuing a 
    second directive to provide training to federal, state and local law 
    enforcement in the use of all available resources in the war on terrorism, 
    including training on foreign intelligence, how to identify it and with 
    whom to share it.   No later than January 31, 2001, a training session 
    shall be convened for Anti-Terrorism Coordinators and Task Force members, 
    including state and local members.  Another training session will be 
    conducted for chiefs of police and state and local trainers, regardless of 
    whether or not they are members of the district's Anti-terrorism Task Force.
             In addition to these fundamental changes, I am establishing a 
    National Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee on Counter-Terrorism.  The 
    purpose of the coordinating committee will be to provide the Attorney 
    General with recommendations on how to facilitate better cooperation and 
    communication between all levels of law enforcement in the war on 
    terrorism.  This enhanced coordination will center around three key areas: 
    organization, information and equipment and training.
             I am asking for an action plan to be developed by this committee 
    to provide me with recommendations on how the Department can better 
    facilitate and promote cooperation between federal, state and local law 
    enforcement.  Due to the high priority the Department places on disrupting 
    terrorist activity, I am requesting that this report be submitted within 
    six months of the committee's inception.
             I  also am directing that 9.3 million dollars be made available to 
    support state and local participation in the Anti-Terrorism Task 
    Forces.  This approximately $100,000 per Task Force should be used as seed 
    money to help our state and local partners meet the emerging communication 
    and information sharing demands placed upon them.  This money could be 
    used, for example, to pay for an intelligence analyst or communications 
    equipment.   Additional state and local funding is also available through 
    existing Department of Justice grants-and you should encourage members of 
    your Task Forces to apply for that funding where needed.  I've asked 
    Deborah Daniels, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice 
    Programs, to make these requests by U.S. Attorneys a priority.
             I know how valuable your time is during this challenging and 
    turbulent period, and I thank you for taking the time to be here today.   I 
    hope you will return to your districts with the additional guidance and 
    direction that you need to continue your extraordinary efforts to combat 
    terrorism.  I recognize that the work we are asking you to do, when added 
    to the duties that already burden U. S. Attorney's Offices, has required 
    great sacrifices from you, your families and the members of your staff.
             At the conclusion of  World War II came the reckoning at 
    Nuremberg.  Former Attorney General and Supreme Court Justice Robert 
    Jackson led the prosecution of 21 Nazi defendants for crimes against their 
    countrymen, against their neighbors, and indeed crimes  against 
    humanity.  All pleaded not guilty.  Some claimed that they were merely 
    following orders.  Others disputed the jurisdiction of the court.  But 
    Jackson successfully argued their guilt with a sense of urgency borne of a 
    civilization threatened by a new force for evil.
             "The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so 
    calculated, so malignant and so devastating," said Jackson, "that 
    civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored because it cannot survive 
    their being repeated."
             It is now as it was then.  A calculated, malignant and devastating 
    evil has arisen in our world.   Civilization cannot ignore the wrongs that 
    have been done.  America will not tolerate their being repeated.
             Justice has a new mission, a new calling against an old evil. 
    Thank you for your hard work.  Thank you for your leadership.  God bless 
    the United States of America.
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
    You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
    Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
    To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
    This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/

    This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Tue Nov 13 2001 - 14:49:49 PST