As you know, last week the President signed legislation to reauthorize all of the expiring provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act and add dozens of additional safeguards to protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
In addition to the many provisions that will help us better protect the American people, the legislation authorizes the Justice Department to establish a new National Security Division.
Today, the President has announced that he intends to nominate Kenneth Wainstein to serve as Assistant Attorney General for National Security. In addition, the Justice Department has requested reprogramming funds from Congress to move forward in standing up the National Security Division – that’s in addition to the 67 million we’ve requested for the next fiscal year.
I am respectfully requesting that Congress move quickly – both on Ken’s confirmation and on our reprogramming request – so that we can establish this important new Division as soon as possible.
Since the attacks of September 11th, the federal government has taken a number of steps to reorganize and improve our resources to better fight terrorism. Our enemy is always changing and adapting…and so are we.
The National Security Division will bring under one umbrella the Department’s primary national security elements, fulfilling a key recommendation of the WMD Commission. We will bring together attorneys from the Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections of the Criminal Division, as well as those from the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review who specialize in the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act. It is another step in eliminating the infamous “wall” between our intelligence and law enforcement teams.
These dedicated public servants who will make up the NSD have been on the front lines of the War on Terror, working around the clock since September 11th to prosecute suspected terrorists and prevent another attack. Their successes have been numerous and noteworthy – the “Portland Seven,” the “Lackawanna Six,” Richard Reid, and others. They have made many sacrifices for the safety of the American people, and our new National Security Division will provide them with additional capacity to do their important job even better through increased coordination and cooperation.
As I mentioned, once he is confirmed by the Senate, Ken Wainstein will lead the NSD; he will also serve as the Department’s liaison to the Director of National Intelligence.
Ken is the right man for the job. As U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, he already plays an important role in our ongoing efforts to protect America and preserve our cherished values and liberties. And his past work with law enforcement as a senior official at the FBI, and with federal prosecutors as Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys and as a long-time career prosecutor, gives him a unique perspective on this new role.
As al-Qaeda promises new attacks, we must never tire from our efforts to adapt and improve our ability to protect the American people. The National Security Division will help us continue to make America safer.