From the day the President announced my nomination as the Attorney General of the United States three months ago, I have thought often about how to best prepare to meet the awesome responsibilities of this office. Outside these walls, the cries of those powerless souls who are injured, disenfranchised or otherwise aggrieved may indeed be faint. But those same pleas for help echo powerfully within the Department of Justice. Every day, like a steady drumbeat we are asked to provide an answer to a problem, to secure a remedy, to be a champion - and every day this Department responds as it has done so time and time again throughout the history of our beloved America.
There has been much discussion during my confirmation about the appropriate role of the Attorney General; certainly an important and legitimate debate about the individual viewed by many as the primary guardian of our rights and protector of our freedoms. Undeniably, the Attorney General is a member of the President's cabinet, a part of his team. But the Attorney General represents also the American people, and his first allegiance must always be to the Constitution of the United States.
So, I rise today to reassure you that I understand the special role of this office, and to commit to do my best on behalf of the American people to fulfill the confidence and trust reflected in my appointment.
I rise also to express my thanks to all of you here and around the country who have walked with me, even for just a short time, along my journey. My words, I fear, are inadequate to convey my gratitude for picking me up when I have stumbled. Can a son repay the debt reflected in a lifetime of sacrifice by his parents? Can a husband express in appropriate words and deeds his love and respect for the many years of affection and loyalty of a loving wife? Can a friend compose a message of sufficient gratitude for a President who has been an inspiration and mentor?
Mom, Becky, Mr. President, I do not believe I can, nor do I intend to even try in this abbreviated ceremony other than to acknowledge, from the bottom of my heart, how much each of you has meant in my life. In the years ahead, I hope that my service as Attorney General will serve to honor your faith and trust in me.
Finally, I rise to embrace the employees of the Department of Justice. I assume this office knowing that the dedicated men and women here are focused on protecting the lives and the liberties of our citizens. Tremendous strides in the war on terrorism were made under the leadership of Attorney General John Ashcroft. I thank him for his service to our country and to the cause of freedom. Like John, I am but one instrument in our battle for freedom and the protection of our rights. I am confident that in the days and years ahead we in the Department will work together tirelessly to address terrorism and other threats to our nation and to confront injustice with integrity and devotion to our highest ideals.
America is my home ------ I believe in her promise and I will do what I can to secure that promise for future generations of our children. America is great -not because of our military might or our economic strength - but because of the greatness of Americans, and I welcome the opportunity to stand shoulder to shoulder, side by side with all of you to preserve our heritage rich in "liberty and justice for all."
Thank you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America.