Department of Justice Seal
Opening Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Justice Department Terrorism Roundtable
Washington, D.C.
June 4, 2003

(Note: The Attorney General often deviates from prepared remarks.)

     Thank you for joining me here in Washington to discuss our steady progress and continuing successes in the war on terror. I deeply appreciate the time we just spent in my conference room talking about the prosecution of this war.

     Yesterday, we gained three more convictions in the war on terror. This time in the Detroit Cell case: two on terrorist conspiracy charges and the third on visa and document fraud charges.

     Victories such as these must be built on a solid foundation: Victory requires vision. Victory requires resolve. But even vision and resolve are useless without men and women of faith and action to carry vision forward.

     We have just those kinds of men and women here today.

     From across our nation … from your hometowns and from our big cities … we have gathered together outstanding leaders from our U.S. Attorney's offices who come to share their ideas and their experiences.

     If we are to win the war against terrorism, we must learn from the ideas and experiences that have brought us victory and adapt them to defeat our adversaries.

     The gateway to victory is built on ideas. We must constantly learn, adapt, outthink, and anticipate the actions of our enemies. We must always be ready to seize the initiative in order to secure victory.

     This terrorism roundtable represents the new spirit of cooperation and coordination at the Department of Justice. It gives us the opportunity to discuss proven tactics, to improve teamwork, and to recognize which legal tools work best.

     Since September 11th, 2001, every agency and every public servant at the Department of Justice has worked to replace a reactive culture of compartmentalization with an assertive and courageous culture of action and results.

     By listening and conversing, we have an opportunity to examine the results of our struggle and build on our successes. Over the past 20 months, the Justice Department has met and overcome many challenges. We have seen President Bush lead a campaign against terrorism that has captured or killed over half of al Qaeda's senior operatives. In the last 20 months, more than 3,000 foot soldiers of terror have been incapacitated.

     We gather today recognizing the hard work of the past and also in a spirit of humility. We understand that our work is not yet done and that the future holds yet more challenges to be met and uncertainties to be overcome.

     The U.S. Attorneys offices across America have proven themselves over and over to be worthy guardians of freedom. Many of you have dedicated your lives to being career prosecutors for the government. You have executed the Department of Justice's anti-terrorism mission. You have led joint anti-terrorism task forces in the fight to prevent terrorists from striking again.

     As President Bush noted, "There is no such thing as perfect security against a hidden network of cold-blooded killers. We're not going to wait until the worst dangers are upon us."

     You, your staff, and your colleagues in law enforcement have united with America's intelligence community to share information, to anticipate threats, and to face down the dangers before they are upon us.

     Over the past 20 months you and your Justice colleagues have worked with state and local law enforcement, using every legal means to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist networks here and abroad before they strike.

     You have respected our Constitutional liberties. You have reflected the moral charge of justice. You have upheld the very rule of law that is so precious to the defense of freedom.

     If our war against terrorism is to remain successful, we must constantly adapt and improve our capabilities to protect Americans from a ruthless enemy. Our improved cooperation, coordination and communication on the federal, state and local level must continue.

     Our experience thus far indicates that our coordinated approach is succeeding:

     We are gathering and cultivating detailed intelligence on terrorism in the United States:

We are arresting and detaining potential terrorist threats:

We are dismantling the terrorist financial network:

We are disrupting potential terrorist travel:

We are building a long-term counter-terrorism capacity:

     These successes send a clear message to terrorists here and abroad: We will find you. We will track you down. We will track down all those who support you. We will not rest until justice is brought to all who would plot against America and strike against the freedom we hold so dear.

     I commend each of you for your role in upholding our freedoms and in defending the liberty of generations to come. It is an honor to serve with you.

     Thank you.

     Now, I would like to turn the discussion over to one of the outstanding leaders in our Justice cause: Alice Fisher, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.

     Alice supervises counter-terrorism and is one of the hardest workers at the Department. Every day, I have the honor of meeting with her to get critical briefings on our nation's progress in the criminal prosecution of the war on terror.

Alice …