MR. LEE: At this point it comes out of existing resources.
DD> QUESTION: Ms. Reno, when you talk about addressing the needs --
(off microphone) -- are there other social service needs that these people have?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: They are going to be -- I was talking
in terms of needs of the victim. With respect to, for example, a vicious assault, we
have got to obviously make sure that appropriate medical care is provided and that
general victim services are provided. And I want to try to do everything I can to make
sure that people are not afraid to come forward, so that they at least have the advantage
of some protection, so that they are not left vulnerable to the crime.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno -- (off microphone). Specifically my interest
would be progress in coordinating counter-narcotics terrorism efforts.
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I had an excellent opportunity to
discuss with my colleagues, including a number of ministers of justice, a number of
initiatives: how we can work together to focus on institution-building, to share
training opportunities, to enhance what the heads of state have talked about in terms of
the development of a justice study center. And I am very encouraged. Because the
common theme was that without strong judiciaries, without the training, it is fine to
pass a law, but then you need to train people how to use that law, whether it be a
money-laundering law, a law aimed at organized crime.
So there was really common support for this initiative. And we will
probably be having some meetings of small working groups leading up, I hope, to
some meetings this winter with the ministers of justice.
We talked, again, as I have often talked about, my desire to see that
there is no safe haven and that drug dealers have no place to hide, that this hemisphere
is a hemisphere that should be based on trust. And if we trust each other, then we
should trust each other to try the case in the place where the crime was committed and
where we can get the most effective result that is consistent with the interest of justice.
There was conversation -- I had a good opportunity to talk with
Attorney General Madrozo from Mexico, and I am encouraged. Again, you come
away from these meetings encouraged, but with the recognition that there is a lot to
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, with regard to Mr. Madrozo, did you get to
talk to him about the money-laundering legislation that has not yet been implemented
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: As I indicated, we had a good
general discussion with the ministers of justice about how we could work together to
provide training for those investigators that may not have had experience in the
implementation of particular pieces of legislation. And this was one of the areas that
QUESTION: (Off microphone) -- Thomas Gonzalez Velasquez, the
defense attorney, the long-time associate of Mr. General Guittierez Ribollo, who has
made a number of shocking allegations, was assassinated yesterday, I believe, in
Guadalajara. Have you any reaction to that assassination or to any of those
allegations, which allegedly you have read about?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I am not going to comment on any
of the allegations. And I am not familiar with the details of the event to which you
refer. And it would be more appropriate for me to wait until I have more details.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, Chairman Dan Burton is apparently getting
ready to release publicly the tapes that remain of Webb Hubble's phone conversations
while he was incarcerated. Those were turned over to Burton by you last summer,
with a request that they be kept private. Now, apparently, he is not going to keep them
private. What are you going to do about that?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: My hope is, and from what I read
this morning, there will be efforts made to distinguish between that which is personal
and private and otherwise. And I very much hope that we will be able to continue to
properly work with the committee in providing materials, and that privacy interests
will be appropriately considered in these efforts.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, yesterday Chairman Hatch warned your
nominee not to pursue a prosecution against Haley Barbour, implying that there would
be consequences. Frankly, are you aware of this, and what is your take on the
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We look forward to pursuing every
case based on the evidence and the law. And taking it, as I have told Chairman Hatch
on a number of occasions, taking it wherever it leads us. We do not want to do it
based on politics. We want to do it based on what is right. And I know that Chairman
Hatch shares that feeling and that we will -- he would not want us to do anything else
QUESTION: Well, I am trying to imagine Judge Starr's reaction if
someone had told him -- if some Democrat had told him that if he pursued -- (off
microphone) -- consequences -- (off microphone). I am sure this town would just
explode. Is there -- do you have -- (off microphone) -- Chairman Hatch or have you
talked to him?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I think this town explodes and
people get into trouble because they talk beyond the particular case. In every case that
we handle -- and what I want to say to anybody who cares -- is this Department does
not do anything based on politics. It does it based on the evidence and the law and
what is right. We try with all our might and main to see that that happens.
And I think -- I would be surprised if Chairman Hatch did not share
those views. And so I think he can have confidence that that is what we are going to
do. And I do not think we should get into a fussing match, because I know the way I
am going to try to handle it. And if there are consequences, I accept those
consequences. But I think everybody shares my goal.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, also at that hearing yesterday there was pretty
severe criticism, some of it coming from Democrats, of work that the Criminal
Division has been doing, or not doing, in the last couple of years, when it has been
lacking a confirmed head.
One criticism was that Federal prosecutors have taken on a
win-at-any-cost attitude towards their jobs. Another criticism was that there is no
national policy for narcotics prosecutions; that last year there were 65 cases filed in
Chicago and 1,000 in San Diego. And also that prosecutions in gun cases are down
If you could respond to each of those, but also tell me, do you think the
Criminal Division has been out of control or lacking -- while it was lacking leadership,
that it was just not pursuing appropriate policies?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: First of all, with respect to win at
any cost, I think all you have to do is look at the record and see that that is not the
case. And neither has anybody suggested that. So, again, what we try to do is, based
on fact and the evidence and the law, and not on comments that are not made in the
context of a particular case.
Secondly, with respect to the lack of a comprehensive drug strategy, let
me give you a description of how we are trying to approach and what we are trying to
do in the approach on drugs.
First of all, we look at the Nation, and are trying to pull together all
evidence to identify major organizations, and focus on them, believing very strongly
that Federal resources should be focused on those drug organizations that cut across
district and State lines and that State and local officials are often better equipped to
handle those cases that are primarily local; but that it is important to develop a
coordinated partnership, so that cases are handled in what is in the best interest of a
community and of the Nation. And I think that policy has been very consistent from
Where there are concerns raised, I speak, for example, to the
International Association of Chiefs of Police and Sheriffs on a regular basis. And I
urge them to let me know when there are problems and what we can do to improve.
We always try to be responsive to those problems and try to work through those
issues. And we will continue to do so.
The second approach that we are taking is to look at regional patterns.
Because oftentimes a matter will not be national in scope but it will have a regional
impact. And we need to make sure that we are coordinated with State and local
officials in the different States involved and take appropriate action, through our
Then we have asked the U.S. Attorneys to reach out within their
districts, to make sure that efforts are again coordinated. And police chiefs and
sheriffs tell me that they have never seen such effective partnership and good
coordination. But we do not rest just on our laurels; we continue to try to do
everything we can to improve on it, and to share information that can be helpful.
Another initiative that we are undertaking and have been undertaking is
to focus on various tools that prosecutors can use. We are working with the Treasury
Department in an effective and organized enforcement of our money-laundering laws,
trying to make sure that we keep up with what is happening.
Along the Southwest border, we are trying to focus, again, in a more
coordinated way, on not just making small arrest, but following those arrests and
taking them to larger organizations, so that we can have an impact -- not just a
one-shot impact in a small case, but that we can make the larger cases.
With respect to international issues, I am looking -- I have had the
experience of being a prosecutor in Miami. The Federal Government would come to
town and it would say, We are going to put our resources here in Miami. And things
would get better. But then I would hear from my colleagues that they were pushing
the trafficking up the Atlantic Coast or across to the Gulf Coast.
And so what I have tried to do is look at it from the point of view of our
whole Southern frontier, beginning with the Southwest border, working with our
colleagues in Mexico, to do everything we can to form a partnership with them,
focusing on the Caribbean, particularly with respect to Puerto Rico. We have greatly
enhanced our resources on the Island of Puerto Rico. We are working with the State
Department to address the issues that arise in Haiti.
And so I think we are making some very substantial progress. And I
have already indicated in my previous answer the issues that we are undertaking with
respect to justice ministers and others for South America as a whole.
Thus, I think anybody that suggests that we do not have a drug strategy
that we have been pursuing, again, has not -- they have not really had the opportunity
to sit down with us and see exactly what is happening. And one of the things that I
discovered is prosecutors who claim instant success with drugs make large mistakes.
The whole effort has got to be an effective and organized effort. And I think we can
see results when we do that. And I think we have.
With respect to guns, what we have tried to do is work with local
officials. What we have learned is that local prosecutors are telling us that in many
instances States have enhanced their penalties for the possession of guns, and that the
resources of the Federal Government, rather than being focused on one small gun case
in a community where the local prosecutor can handle it as effectively as a Federal
prosecutor can, our resources should be focused on cases that cut across State and
district lines, in instances in which the local prosecutor could not follow it.
Our efforts should be concentrated on identifying major organizations
that traffic in guns. And our efforts should be focused, as well, through our Office of
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in identifying the best practices that
keep guns out of the hands of youngsters.
So I am very proud of what the Department has been doing over these
years. I take the best measure of success from the people who are on the front lines,
the police chiefs and sheriffs. And we are going to continue to try to do our best. But
if anybody has any particular commentary, I would urge those that spoke yesterday, if
they have a specific incident or example, to give me a call. And we are always happy
to sit down and, to the extent that we can, consistent with my refusal to comment on
pending cases, we will work with them.
Thank you for that opportunity.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, speaking of things you have trouble
commenting on, are you still negotiating with Starr's office about Secret Service
testimony, or is this an issue that is going to have to be litigated in court?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: We are always hopeful that we can
address these issues by working together and talking it out. I do not know whether we
will be able to successfully resolve the issues, but that is certainly my goal.
QUESTION: So you are pessimistic about a resolution; a judge is
going to have to decide this?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: No, you said that.
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, have you received any data from Judge
Holloway Johnson on how to handle the allegations concerning Starr's office?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I would not comment on any matter
relating to the pending investigation and whether or not I had received any guidance.
QUESTION: (Off microphone) -- sent you a letter last week, saying
that the Justice Department would have a conflict of interest in investigating Mr. Hale,
expressing a reluctance to ship it back to you if he felt he had a conflict. And he said,
in the windup of the letter I believe, that he wanted to discuss appropriate mechanisms,
without specifying them, that he had in mind to deal with such matters. Have you got
any response to that? Or when are you going to respond?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: Well, first of all, it is his -- he has
the jurisdiction to pursue it and to determine what is best. And we would always be
available to talk with him and work with him in any way that would be appropriate.
QUESTION: Did you respond to him shortly on that letter, or have
you sent a response?
ATTORNEY GENERAL RENO: I am not going to pursue the issues.
If there are conversations, I think they are going to have to be pursued appropriately,
QUESTION: Ms. Reno, going back just for a second to Chairman
Hatch yesterday. You know, that really was unusual. When you see, over the years,
these things come and go, people make sharp comments. But on this one, it was not
just consequences. He said all hell was going to break loose at one point. And then he
described it as unholy hell if the Department did anything about Haley Barbour. I just
wonder where is the Haley Barbour investigation?
(End of provided tape from the Department of Justice.)