Department of Justice Seal

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
at the United States Chamber of Commerce
Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Thank you for the invitation to join you here at the United States Chamber of Commerce. The members of the U.S. Chamber personify the success that comes from hard work, focus and dedication. These efforts have transformed the American and global economies.

At the United States Department of Justice, we also understand what hard work, focus and dedication can achieve for the American people. In the past three years, we have achieved remarkable successes in protecting and enhancing the lives and liberties of our citizens.      

A little over three years ago, after suffering a terrorist attack that took more than 3,000 innocent lives, many experts said it would be impossible to protect America from another attack from our enemy.

The Department of Justice reorganized and worked with law enforcement on every level to make America safer and more secure. In the past three years, we have not suffered another major terrorist attack on our soil.      

For three years, our nation has been blessed. But the hand of Providence has been assisted by the dedicated men and women of the Department of Justice. In three years, we have compiled a record of achievement that is impressive by peacetime standards. In a time of war, it is inspiring. We have:

Pessimists long told us that violent crime is a fact of life - especially for poorer groups of Americans.     

Last month, the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that violent crime rates in America have been driven down to record 30-year lows. This record level of safety has been achieved for all Americans - across every economic category in our nation.     

In the past three years - 2001 to 2003 - we have seen the overall rate of violent crime decline 27 percent from the previous three-year period prior to the Bush Administration.      

Over the past three years, we have seen double-digit reductions in the rate of:

These are not mere statistics. Behind these numbers are real people - 1.7 million Americans who were spared the pain of violent crime.     

The three-year reduction in the rate of violent crime means that:

There were experts who said that tough enforcement of the laws that were already on the books would never work in reducing crimes committed with a gun.      

Well today, gun crime prosecutions are at a record high and gun crime is at a record low.      

In 2003 alone, we charged a record 13,000 defendants with federal firearms offenses, and more than 9,500 individuals were convicted-the largest number ever convicted in the federal system in a single year.      

Four years ago, our nation's financial markets were rocked by scandals. The chattering classes said we could never restore the trust that had been lost. 

But that was before the Department of Justice charged 900 defendants in 400 corporate fraud cases. And that was before more than 500 individuals, including 60 CEOs, were convicted of defrauding investors.

For the past three years, the men and women of the Department of Justice have been steadily focused on protecting the lives and the liberties of the American people. We have faced serious challenges, but the Justice Department has showed what can be achieved with focus, determination, and hard work. Still, challenges remain.

The protection of our nation's intellectual property has been a top priority of the Justice Department from my first days as Attorney General. But serious threats to intellectual property endanger our nation's economy and our citizens. The Justice Department's response to this threat must be every bit as forceful and aggressive as its response to terrorism or violent crime.

In the increasingly knowledge-driven economy, intellectual property is our nation's most important economic resource. Taken as a whole, intellectual property helps to employ hundreds of million of people around the world and generates revenue in the trillions. It follows then that if intellectual property unleashes our nation's potential, the theft of intellectual property limits our nation's capacity to grow.

When jobs and wages are lost due to intellectual property crimes, our nation's economy is weakened.

The United States Trade Representative estimates that intellectual property theft and counterfeiting worldwide costs United States companies $250 billion annually. Industries from software designers to auto-parts manufacturers estimate that they have lost more than 300,000 jobs due to the cost of intellectual property theft.

When counterfeit pharmaceuticals reach America's medicine cabinets, they threaten the health of our citizens. For example, a pharmaceutical company discovered a counterfeit version of its pills that was made with a combination of floor wax and yellow lead-based paint normally used to mark roads.

And when profits from counterfeited fashions or illegally distributed DVDs help finance the operations of organized crime, and potentially terrorists, intellectual property crimes undercut our nation's security.

The Department of Justice takes seriously its mission to protect intellectual property from the criminals of the new millennium ... thieves who steal our nation's innovative ideas and hard work. For example:

These are successes, and over the past four years there have been others, but there is much more to be done. That is why on March 31, 2004, I created the Department of Justice's Task Force on Intellectual Property. My charge to the Task Force was to find new and innovative ways to protect Americans from the theft of intellectual property.

Earlier this month, I received the Task Force final report. It is a blueprint for the most aggressive, ambitious and far-reaching law enforcement effort against intellectual property crimes in Justice Department history.

The Task Force recommendations - which I have embraced - include significant proposals in the areas of criminal, civil, and antitrust enforcement, international cooperation, legislative initiatives, and public outreach and education. Today I would like to highlight three sections of the report that feature significant initiatives:

First: criminal enforcement.

In 2001, I established the national Computer Hacking and Intellectual Property Unit network, or CHIP network. CHIP Units are comprised of specially trained prosecutors and investigators who focus on intellectual property crimes. They are located in thirteen U.S. Attorneys offices where intellectual property crimes enforcement is especially important.

The results have been dramatic. In 2003, the first year all units were operational, the CHIP Program filed charges against 46 percent more defendants than they had averaged in each of the four years prior to the formation of the units.

In order to build on this success, the Justice Department will create five new CHIP Units to be based here in Washington, D.C., in Sacramento, California; Nashville, Tennessee; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Orlando, Florida.

We will also designate a CHIP Coordinator in every U.S. Attorney Office in the nation. This coordinator will be a prosecutor who specializes in intellectual property crime. We will enhance training programs for prosecutors and investigators of intellectual property crime, including those based overseas.

This brings me to the second area: international cooperation.

Geographic borders do not limit intellectual property theft and counterfeiting. Borders must not limit our investigation, prosecution, and prevention efforts against such crimes.

Eastern Europe and Asia are two regions where large, organized networks of intellectual property counterfeiters and thieves operate. Therefore we will place new federal prosecutors to focus on intellectual property crime at United States embassies in Hong Kong and Budapest, Hungary.

To assist these prosecutors, we will recommend that the FBI deploy specially trained FBI agents to the embassies. These prosecutors and agents will also be armed with updated legal tools.

Last year, representing the United States, I signed the first ever Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition treaties with the European Union. This treaty allows intellectual property counterfeiting and theft as extraditable offenses.

The United States is now working with each of the 25 Member States of the EU to complete the instruments that will bring the treaties into force. In fact, earlier this month at EU meetings in The Hague, I signed implementing instruments with the Dutch and French governments.

Many of the intellectual property cases we develop would not be possible were it not for the cooperation of the victims of the crime. This brings me to the final area, education and outreach.

The prosecution - and, critically, the prevention - of intellectual property crime requires cooperation from the individuals, businesses and industries that have been victimized. Victims must have the information and resources necessary to protect their hard work and innovation.

We will expand the Department of Justice's programs to educate and encourage a respect for intellectual property. The Task Force has developed and recommended national implementation of an education program targeting America's young people.

The expansion of the Justice Department's protection of intellectual property, and the prosecution of intellectual propePeople who illegally download a movie online, or who steal the formula for a new pesticide, are not "pirates" or "spies." They are thieves, pure and simple. And these thieves are a threat to the economic strength and innovative spirit of our nation.

Whether it is an entrepreneur in his home office or a corporation with four factories, each must be given the opportunity to succeed in an environment where enterprise, creativity and innovation are respected and where there is a marketplace that offers potential reward for their efforts.

If the environment in this country is not conducive to creativity and innovation, the innovators will find an environment elsewhere that is. And that is an outcome our nation cannot afford.

If the environment in this country is not conducive to creativity and innovation, the innovators will find an environment elsewhere that is. And that is an outcome our nation cannot afford.

The Justice Department will continue to expand and enhance the environment for creativity and innovation that is the hallmark of our nation.

We will continue to protect the lives and liberties of our citizens, so that America remains a beacon to all who seek opportunity and all who cherish freedom.

Thank you very much.