MR. MORFORD: My name is Craig Morford. I'm the acting Deputy Attorney General, and it's my privilege to welcome all of you to what is going to be a celebration today, a farewell celebration for Alberto Gonzales, our eightieth Attorney General of the United States of America.
Before we begin today we are going to ask you all to stand for the presentation of colors.
(Presentation of the Colors.)
(The National Anthem.)
MR. MORFORD: Please join me in thanking the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard for the Military District of Washington and Civil Rights Division soloist Dorothy Williams.
MR. MORFORD: For those of you who are guests here at the Department of Justice today, as you can see we have a lot of talent in the Department of Justice and I learn more about the talent every day. At this time I'm going to turn the podium over to Reverend Kathleene Card who is a close personal friend of Attorney General Gonzales and Rebecca Gonzales. She has served as a teacher and government official. She now serves as the associate pastor of Trinity Unity Methodist Church in McLean, and she will present the invocation at today's event. MS. CARD: It's an honor to participate in this recognition of the accomplishments of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the occasion of his transition from public life into private life.
As a pastor and as a friend I know the depths of your commitment to serving your country, a depth which you and your family have shared, and I feel certain that wherever the Lord leads you next you will be protecting and defending those who need it most.
Would you go to the Lord in prayer with me?
Eternal God, we come to you from many faith traditions. We gather in the Department of Justice thankful for your vision and your care of our daily lives. We seek a blessing on these proceedings and all who are gathered here. We acknowledge our thankfulness for people willing to serve in our government and we are especially thankful for your humble servant Alberto Gonzales and his tireless effort to fight against those crimes that target children and people most at risk.
May the Department of Justice continue this important and critical work and find allies in government all over the world, bless and protect the President, the administration, the Congress, the Senate, the judiciary, those serving in law enforcement and our military, all who have sworn to accept the responsibility of serving. And Lord, we ask you to keep their hearts soft so that they remember who they serve and that they all serve one country.
In this time of transition, guide, protect and empower not only Alberto but also his family as well, specifically his wife Rebecca and their sons Jared, Graham and Gabriel. And Lord, please move within the hearts of all who are leaders so that they may seek to guide us according to your will and for your glory.
And I ask the congregation to say amen.
(Chorus of Amens.)
MR. MORFORD: There are many special guests with us here today, but none are more important than the family of the Attorney General, so please join me in giving a very warm welcome to Rebecca Gonzales, the wife of Attorney General Gonzales, and their children, Gabriel, Graham and Jared.
(Applause.) MR. MORFORD: You know, a lot will probably be said today about sacrifice and so many times we think about the sacrifices of the people who actually hold the positions and we overlook the tremendous sacrifices of the families of people who hold those positions. And I know the sacrifices that this family has made because many of us have families who have made similar sacrifices, and we all thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the sacrifices that you've made so that our Attorney General could do the things that he did for our country at this time. And I just thank you so much.
MR. MORFORD: At this time I would like to ask our Solicitor General Paul Clement to come and speak, to share some words.
MR. CLEMENT: Thank you very much, Craig.
First and foremost, I want to thank the judge for his tremendous service to the department and the nation. I also want to thank him for giving me the opportunity to serve.
I remember when I first met the judge, over in the transition offices on G Street, even before the inauguration. The judge was instrumental in getting me into the administration and he played an even greater role in encouraging the President to nominate me as the Solicitor General. The two officials who have the most critical input into the President with respect to that decision were the White House Counsel and the Attorney General. Through a happy coincidence of timing, the judge essentially performed both roles and was very instrumental in going to bat for me in both posts.
Not only did the judge allow me to serve but he has also kept me and the other lawyers in the Solicitor General's office quite busy. I remember worrying when Attorney General Ashcroft departed that we might not have enough to do in the SG's office. After all, Attorney General Ashcroft was the main defendant in a number of our law suits.
I should not have worried. Looking back at the docket over the last two years I see that the judge has brought us Gonzales against Rache, Gonzales against Oregon, Gonzales against O Centro Espirito Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal, Lopez against Gonzales, Fernandez Vargas against Gonzales. Who can forget Gonzales against Duenas Alvarez and of course Gonzales against Carhart and Gonzales against Planned Parenthood of America.
Indeed, I managed to personally argue about half of those cases, so the judge has really kept us very busy indeed.
On a more serious note, let me stress the great admiration that Judge Gonzales has always showed for two institutions near and dear to my heart. First, I can attest that the judge has a great appreciation for the work of the Solicitor General's office and the views of the career professionals in that office. He followed our work with interest and respected our judgments. And of course, the judge followed the work of the office in no small part because of his keen interest in the Supreme Court of the United States.
The judge has a deep and profound respect for the court as an institution. As a result, it seems fitting that the judge's tenure as Attorney General allowed him to make two very significant appearances before the bar of the court. Neither appearance was an argument, but both will be preserved for posterity in the United States Reports.
The first appearance took place on October 3, 2005 when the Attorney General formally presented the commission of Chief Justice John Roberts to the Supreme Court of the United States. Those proceedings are memorialized in Volume 545 of the United States Reports.
The second appearance was on February 16, 2006 when the Attorney General presented the commission of Associate Justice Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Those proceedings are in Volume 546.
I am happy to report that in both instances the court unanimously granted the Judge's motion, so his record stands at 2-0. (Laughter.) And it really, though, I think, is hard to think of two motions that could represent a more concrete legacy for an Attorney General or for a President. So in sum, let me thank the judge for serving. Let me thank him for allowing me to serve and for keeping us busy, but let me most of all congratulate him on the completion of a tenure that has been consequential in the life of the department, of the court and the nation. Thank you.
MR. MORFORD: Next we're going to hear from John Clark, the director of United States Marshal Service.
MR. CLARK: Thank you, Deputy Attorney General Morford, Attorney General Gonzales, special guests of honor, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.
On behalf of the nearly 5,000 men and women of the United States Marshal Service, it's a high honor and privilege for me to say a few words about a great public servant, our Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales.
It was about a year-and-a-half ago that the Attorney General swore me in as director of the United States Marshal Service, and in a scene I will always remember I stood before this Attorney General while my mom held the Bible and I took the oath of office to reflect what is required of us as public servants.
And as you might imagine, I was quite nervous that day, and I was really quite fearful that my mom might share some story about my childhood that would be better left unsaid. Well, my coaching paid off and mom behaved herself, but the general spirit of this man that day will always be with me. I was struck by the fact that only in America two men of humble beginnings come face to face in a conference room in the office of the Attorney General to swear to uphold and defend the values of this great nation.
But when it was time to get to work I realized I was working for a results-driven man. I knew the Attorney General had already begun an aggressive strategy under Project Safe Neighborhood to reduce violent crime in America and that the men and women of the U.S. Marshal Service were expected to contribute to that goal.
He enthusiastically approved a plan to combine the collective efforts of federal, state and local police officers to conduct fugitive roundups all across America, the first program of its kind, Operation Falcon that resulted in thousands of violent criminals being brought to justice.
He also gave me the go-ahead to try the innovative Fugitive State Surrender Program where community leaders, law enforcement officers, judges and the faith based community all came together to encourage people to surrender to their local church, a place of safe haven. Because of his support, today over 4,000 fugitives with a strong desire to turn their lives around safely surrendered themselves to face justice where they were treated with dignity and respect.
And then the President signed into law the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, and Attorney General Gonzales designated the United States Marshal Service to tackle the problem of apprehending unregistered sex offenders. And because of his support and commitment to protecting the most innocent among us, our children, this Attorney General made it clear that enforcing the Adam Walsh Act would be a top priority of his Project Safe Childhood strategy.
And working closely with the Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, those who fail to register as sex offenders are getting an early morning wake up call, complements of Deputy U.S. Marshals and the Attorney General who saw the need to make this a national priority.
These are but a few of the ways that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has strengthened our nation and made it possible for the American Dream to prosper.
Mr. Attorney General, it's been a great honor and privilege to serve on your watch. It's my hope that the three H's of life, health, happiness and home, will flourish for you and your family. May God bless you and this great land, the United States of America. And may justice always prevail.
Thank you so much.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is Michael Sullivan. He is the director of ATF, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
MR. SULLIVAN: Thank you, Craig. Let me begin by apologizing, Judge. I actually misread the email and I thought it said I had 35 minutes to speak, and to the Deputy Attorney General just told me it was three to five minutes. I don't know how I'm going to get three to five minutes out of this speech.
Let me start by saying to the Attorney General, it has been an absolute honor to serve with you in the Department of Justice. You have been an outstanding advocate on behalf of ATF, United States Attorneys offices across the country and the Department of Justice as a whole, and a friend to each one of us.
Throughout my tenure at the department, I've come to know Attorney General Gonzales as an intelligent, thoughtful, well spoken individual who lives the law and is deeply patriotic in his convictions. He has shown an extraordinary commitment to public service throughout his entire life and career and throughout his time here in Washington, D.C. he has been deeply committed to serving and protecting the people of the United States.
When I think of the Attorney General three words come to mind, discipline, beauty, and honor. Self control is a quality often lacking in the world of today's politics. Emotions heat up quickly here in our nation's capital but the Attorney General could always be counted on to quiet rumblings of dissension with his reasoned rational demeanor and a sort of calm eye in the center of a raging storm.
He was a steady hand at the helm of the department, and his disciplined and fiscal approach to leadership will be profoundly missed, not only by me personally but by ATF, the other law enforcement components and the entire department.
Duty is oftentimes defined as an assigned service with a force of moral obligation. I have met few people in my life with as strong a sense of duty as Attorney General Gonzales.
Last, honor is described in the dictionary as a keen sense of ethical conduct, of striving to do the right thing all the times. At the end of the day when we finally rest our heads on our pillows and close our eyes to the night, one final thought should run through our mind, did I do my best to do the right thing today? I have oftentimes asked myself that question, and I suspect Attorney General Gonzales does as well.
As I come to know him, I know in my heart that at the end of each day he can honestly answer, yes, I did my best today; I did everything in my power to do the right thing. That is all anybody can ask of us. That is all we can ask of ourselves.
Without hesitation I can describe our departing Attorney General as a dedicated and loyal public servant, as an intelligent, articulate man with a strong sense of duty and as a patriot in a manor for which the word was intended.
I consistently use all these attributes to characterize the Attorney General, I prefer to describe him simply as a good man, a good husband to Rebecca, a good father to Jared, Graham and Gabriel and as a good friend to many of us.
So Judge Gonzales, I wish you nothing but my best in this next stage in your professional and personal journey. On behalf of myself and the people of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, I'd like to thank you for your friendship to ATF and the outstanding leadership for this department.
Though this may be a farewell from the Department of Justice I know it will not be a goodbye for the many people whose lives you have touched. Thank you for your faithful service to the people of the United States.
People throughout this great country truly appreciate your dedication and your tireless commitment to those ideals that make us a shining light and an inspiration to the rest of the world. Judge Gonzales, on behalf of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives, I brought you a small token of our appreciation. It's a collection of photos of your visits with the men and women of ATF.
And I'm sorry to say I'm going to have to take this -- because we thought we had until January 2009 to complete it, and there's a few photos I'd like to add to this collection. Thank you very much, Judge. All the best to you and your family.
MR. MORFORD: Just as a point of clarity, the limit on time was because we didn't have an interpreter who spoke Boston, so that was the issue.
At this time we're going to hear from Robert Mueller, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
MR. MUELLER: Good afternoon, everyone. I'm pleased to be here today to help to say a fond farewell to a great friend of the FBI and a friend of mine.
For the past two-and-a-half years Judge Gonzales has been a supporter of the bureau at a time of tremendous change for us. And since September 11, the men and women of the FBI as well as this department have been called upon to focus on the prevention of terrorist attacks on our country and on our people.
Much has been asked of the people of this department. Much has been expected of those who work on the department's and the FBI's number one priority, which is the prevention of another such attack. And at this time of great change, this Attorney General has been squarely behind that change and has supported all of our efforts, and for that we owe him a great debt of gratitude.
As another anniversary of the attacks on September 11 fades from view, this Attorney General knows better than anyone else that our work is not done. Each morning he and others receive the daily press briefing. Each morning he has seen that there are those still out there who wish to do this country harm. And each morning he has wrestled with the hard calls to take and keep this nation safe.
He knows better than any of us the importance of remaining vigilant and he has been steadfast in supporting those who work day-in and day-out to prevent another September 11. But beyond his focus on the counterterrorism mission, Judge Gonzales has never forgotten that crime and violence make their most immediate impact when they hurt those whom we love, our families.
This Attorney General has been tireless in his commitment to reduce the crimes that immediately affect the families across the country, gang violence, online predators. Communities across the country have benefitted from his leadership with Project Safe Neighborhood.
And I also know that as a father he has been struck by the horror of online predators. I know that he has been deeply affected by the pictures that all too often can invade the online space that children inhabit, and those pictures have spurred his dedication to, as he has put it, making America into a place where children's safety is a guarantee.
His personal dedication as a father and as Attorney General to Project Safe Childhood has been a critical factor in that initiative's success. Anyone who offers themselves to public service, whether in a time of calm or a time of crisis, recognizes that the greatest sacrifices come from our families. And echoing what Craig has said, we all know that Judge Gonzales has been supported throughout his career by Rebecca and three fine sons. His dedication to public service in myriad roles, both in Texas and here in Washington, has been second only to his dedication to his family, the true mark of a man.
Attorney General Gonzales has been more than a valued colleague to us. He has been a friend to the FBI and he has been a friend to me personally.
I want to thank you, Judge, for your support, effective support for you and us and your family's support. I give you my thanks and that of the FBI and wish you all the best.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is Karen Tandy, the administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration.
MS. TANDY: Good afternoon. At the end of the day of any public servant the most that we could ever hope for is that we made a difference in the service to our country.
Judge Gonzales, you have made a tremendous difference in your service to this country. I could talk about Katrina, the lives that you committed to restoring, the rule of law that you committed to returning. I could talk about the very memorable dinner right here in the Great Hall with Rebecca and Judge Gonzales, Mueller and his wife Ann, where we hosted wounded soldiers who had returned from Iraq and gave them and their families a dinner that they would long remember.
But what I want to talk about in addition to those many snapshots of how you've made a difference in this country, what I want to talk about is with your kids -- because your dad has made a difference in so many lives among kids in this country he will never know about.
If you filled the stadium at FedEx Field, which happens to be the largest football stadium in the NFL, if you filled that with all of the teenagers who are no longer using drugs, you'd have to fill that stadium nine times, empty it and refill it. That is such an extraordinary accomplishment that is so, so much about this man because Judge Gonzales was very committed and it was a privilege to serve with him in his commitment to the children of this country, to protecting the children in this country so that they would have the chance to live the American Dream that Judge Gonzales was able to live.
And along the way, Judge, I don't know what -- history will capture all of the extraordinary records that you set in the area of drugs, but to catalogue just a couple of them because they are so meaningful to the men and women of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and with me personally, it is because of the relationship that you built with Mexico and with your counterparts in this hemisphere that we had the world's first extradition from Mexico of any drug cartel leaders. And you personally were on the phone with the Attorney General of Mexico to make that happen.
At the same time, through your relationships there was the seizure of the world's largest amount of money that was connected to drugs, in this instance to chemicals for the production of meth amphetamine. Again, something that this Attorney General has devoted himself to in his career and certainly on behalf of the DEA.
There are so many other records that I could go into, but on the drug front Judge Gonzales, you have made a historic, unprecedented difference in the lives of the men and women and the children in this country and our country is safer and more secure against illegal drugs than we have ever been.
Thank you for your service and I wish you Godspeed and we are grateful to have had your leadership and for me, to have had the opportunity to walk next to you. Thank you Rebecca and thank you kids.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is Johnny Sutton. Johnny Sutton is the United States Attorney in San Antonio, Texas. He also has served as the chairman of the AGAC, which is the Attorney General's Advisory Committee.
And we will not need a Texas translator, but if we did there's probably hundreds of them here in this town right now.
MR. SUTTON: Thank you so much, Craig.
It is truly an honor to have a minute or two to speak on behalf of the United States Attorneys about Judge Gonzales. I didn't bring the gift that we gave to Judge Gonzales last night, but the United States Attorneys had dinner with him last night and we did give him a gift. It wasn't a book. It was a statue of four Texas Rangers riding their horses at full speed with their guns in the air, shooting them off, which we felt was very fitting for us, a real Texan like Al Gonzales.
In classic U.S. Attorney fashion I would say neither Texas Rangers -- and a couple of them started looking closely and said, "why are they shooting their guns straight up; are they just coming home from a saloon, going back to the range?" But we had a great time with him and we are very, very sad to see him go.
I've known Al Gonzales for going on 12 years now. I started with him in the Governor's office way back when President Bush was Governor Bush, and I had the honor of working with him pretty closely, I was three doors down from him for several years and I got to see him up close. And many of you all who know him know he's a man of very few words. He's a man who doesn't crave the spotlight. In fact, 10 feet between him and a camera are not the 10 most dangerous feet in America like they are to some other people we know in this town.
But I saw that he was a smart, tough, aggressive lawyer who gave up a very lucrative private practice at a prestigious law firm in Houston to join a governor who had never been elected to office before, gave all that up to serve the people of Texas as his general counsel, then as his Secretary of State and as a Supreme Court Justice, and being brought up to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House and then become Attorney General of the United States.
He sacrificed many, many years of his life on behalf of the people of Texas and the United States of America. He understands very clearly that the obligation of government is to protect the innocent, and when he arrived at the Department of Justice the priorities of this administration were very clearly set in stone and carried out in a very aggressive fashion to protect us from terrorist attack, to protect the innocent from violent crime, to attack the scourge of drugs as well as protecting our borders.
But he essentially recognized the need to protect children. When he would visit our offices he would speak not for very long but with a great deal of passion about those priorities, but when he got to the part about protecting children his eyes would light up and he would really, really -- you could see that this is something that hit close to him, and probably the reason is because he's got kids of his own sitting right there in front.
He saw there was an urgent need in this country to go after predators who prey on our children. He recognized that the Internet is an incredible tool to spread freedom and knowledge around the world, but it is also a very dangerous tool that can bring literally a child predator into your home. He recognized that and he began a program called Project Safe Childhood, which is now spread across this nation, and I predict to you that years from now this program will be remembered as one of the most important things that we did in this administration.
Now we have a coordinated effort to go after these predators who do the most evil things to our kids and the coming disaster that is the proliferation of child pornography and child predators that come into our houses through the internet -- is being attacked on a national basis and a national awareness all because of this man right here.
I can't sit down before I say a word about Becky, Al's wife, because for those of you who know her, for all the quietness and calm ice water in his veins, the passion is sitting right there in the front row, and her passion was brought to Washington, D.C., and it wasn't -- it was on display both as a volunteer -- she got out front and volunteered in this effort to protect children and I want to thank you for that, for all you've done, but I especially want to thank you for your many, many years of sacrifice.
I know how difficult this has been to have a guy who arrives at work at 6:00 a.m. and doesn't come home often until after 9:00 or 10:00 and sometimes is out for days at a time, and that takes a toll. And we thank you for your sacrifice to America. We thank all the wives and the husbands who make that sacrifice but especially you and your boys today. Very soon you're going to get Al back.
On behalf of the United States Attorneys we want to thank you, Judge Gonzales, for all you've done for your leadership. We will miss you and on behalf of those from Texas, get home as fast as you can, if you can.
Thank you so much.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is Steven Bradbury. He is the Deputy Assistant Attorney General in charge of our Office of Legal Counsel, OLC.
MR. BRADBURY: I am probably not going to stick to the time limit.
Mr. Attorney General, Mrs. Gonzales, members of the Gonzales family, Madam Secretary, Secretary Chertoff, and I see former Attorney General Barr, this is surely a momentous day. Since the beginning of the President's first term, Judge Gonzales has been near the center of many of the most important decisions affecting the security of the nation and our legal landscape during this historic time of challenge, from the government's fundamental approach to the War on Terror to the President's judicial selections. Many will express their differing individual perspectives, but I believe that history's judgment will be that Judge Gonzales has played a decisive part in making the country safer and stronger while protecting the constitutional rights of Americans.
I have been privileged to work closely with him on the fifth floor of main Justice since the day he entered into office as Attorney General. He is a good, kind, steadfast, courageous, and humble man who reveres the mission of this Department and the people who faithfully carry out its mission. He is a friend to me and one whose friendship I will always cherish.
Judge Gonzales came to the Department to build on the successes of General Ashcroft. His objective as Attorney General was to strengthen the Department and to expand and improve its effectiveness. His leadership has been like a gentle but firm hand on the tiller. He defined clear priorities for the Department. He endeavored to ensure that each component had what it needed to pursue those priorities, including by pushing hard for full and balanced funding throughout the budget and appropriations process. And he urged us always to do the best we could consistent with our obligation to the constitution and the rule of law.
In my case, when I became the acting head of OLC, his guidance to me was simple and clear: Hire the best and brightest people. Carefully consider all sides of the issues. And call them as you see them, giving your best judgment as to what the law requires. He never told me how to come down on any legal issues that we addressed.
That quiet approach to leadership gave us in OLC a strong sense of support which enabled us to do our work forthrightly and with confidence. Knowing we had the Attorney General's complete support has been a rocklike foundation for those of us who have been honored to serve under his tenure. His support for our efforts has been solid and steady, just as his mild demeanor has been utterly unflappable under sometimes unbelievable and very public pressure and criticism.
The Attorney General has given the same brand of steady support to all components of the Department. He has been fully supportive, for example, of vigorous prosecutions to protect public integrity, which often exposed high-level public corruption even in the halls of Congress without regard for any impact on partisan political fortunes. There again, his guidance was simple: Do the right thing. Follow the evidence where it leads. Let the chips fall where they may. That may sound trite, but it inspires the dedicated folks on the front lines to move forward with confidence and resolve.
Another cardinal quality of Judge Gonzales' leadership has been his unassuming humility, so out of place in Washington. He is the absolute opposite of the rooster that claimed credit for the sunrise. Of course, that means that many of his successes as our nation's 80th Attorney General have gone largely unsung, or at least not sung loudly. The Judge is not the world's best or loudest singer.
Let me highlight just a few of those successes, particularly in the area of national security. He saw to the creation of the National Security Division. It was the brainchild of Judge Silberman, but it was embraced and sponsored by Judge Gonzales. Along with reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the creation of the NSD will be a lasting legacy of the Attorney General, and it will help to protect us from another 9/11.
Another legacy will be the achievement of permanent FISA improvements, which I am confident will be enacted. In particular, as Attorney General he personally encouraged and pushed forward the efforts that culminated in our obtaining in January of this year orders from the FISA Court which, as the Attorney General announced, enabled the President to decide not to renew his special authorization of the NSA surveillance. That was a decisive development that helped spur passage just last month of the Protect America Act, which will, I believe, ultimately result in a permanent and positive legislative overhaul of our foreign intelligence authorities and capabilities, again, helping to protect us from another 9/11.
A similar story can be sold regarding our response to the Supreme Court's ruling in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, where DOJ led the way under the Attorney General's firm guidance to work with Congress in achieving historic and unprecedented legislation authorizing military commission proceedings and clarifying our nation's implementation of the laws of war.
In priority areas other than national security, some of the more significant and lasting accomplishments of the Department under this Attorney General have been noted by Director Mueller, Director Tandy, Johnny Sutton, and I won't repeat them here. But I will mention two of particular importance in my view.
In the area of civil rights enforcement, the Attorney General was personally committed to the Department's stepped-up efforts to combat the scourge of human trafficking. As a result of the Department's efforts under this Attorney General, hundreds of innocent human beings have been freed from an unimaginable hell on earth.
And in the area of fraud prosecutions, the Attorney General established the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force, ably led by Alice Fisher, which has so far brought charges against more than 700 defendants in 41 federal districts.
Mr. Attorney General, for these and other accomplishments, and for your goodness, your kindness, your calm leadership, your humility, your courage, your steadfast support for our work, your faith in the constitution, and your faith in us, I thank you, the Department thanks you, and the nation thanks you. You will be dearly missed.
MR. MORFORD: One of the many accomplishments that Steve mentioned was the creation of the National Security Division, which was an incredibly important change in this Department of Justice. And our next speaker is the leader of that section, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Ken Wainstein.
MR. WAINSTEIN: Thanks, Craig. And good afternoon, everybody. It is a true honor and a pleasure to be here to help celebrate the tenure of our leader and our friend, Judge Gonzales.
As Craig said, I am in the National Security Division, and I came on board when the division got stood up just about a year ago, last fall. And in this past year, Judge Gonzales and I have worked closely on a variety of different issues, and I have had the chance to see the Judge from a number of different perspectives. I would like to discuss two of those perspectives here today.
First, I have gotten to see exactly where it is that Judge Gonzales stands on matters involving our national security. And where he stands is right next to the men and women who are on the front lines in our battle against international terrorism. At every step of the way, Attorney General Gonzales has pushed to make sure that our personnel, our officers, our agents, our prosecutors, our analysts, that we all have the resources we need and what we need to protect our country.
Whether it has been his efforts to stand up the National Security Division you have heard about, the first new division in the Department of Justice in 40 years, I think, or his efforts to make sure that Congress reauthorized the vital tools and authorities that we received back in the Patriot Act, or the countless times that he personally stepped up to help us on matters small or large when he heard about some sort of bureaucratic obstacle that was making it hard for us to do our jobs, the Judge has always been a steady force in support of our national security operations.
At the same time, he has been a steady force for making sure not only that we conduct our operations effectively, but that we do so responsibly. He understands that our authority to enforce the law and defend the nation depends on the public's confidence that we would use that authority appropriately and judiciously.
And that is why earlier this year he directed the National Security Division to establish a new structure and a new component devoted to compliance oversight. And that is why he gave us the authority to conduct comprehensive oversight on all aspects of national security investigations.
The decision to give us that authority was historic, as it is the first time that Main Justice has been given such a broad oversight mandate. It is a decision that will well-serve the Department, the FBI, and the nation for generations to come.
Besides having the chance to see Judge Gonzales as a national security leader over this past year, I have also been able to take a measure of the Judge just as a person. And over this past year, people have often asked me, what is the Attorney General like? What is he really like? What kind of guy is he?
And I have realized over time that I have come to use one particular answer to that question, which is that the Attorney General is a good man. Simply that: He's a good man. And I think those are the words that Mike Sullivan used a few moments ago.
And it is kind of difficult to come up with a specific definition of what a good man or a good woman is, but I think we all understand it. It means someone who has a big heart and has all the qualities that you would look for in a friend. And Attorney General Gonzales is a person who has those qualities. He has them in full measure. And in particular, Judge Gonzales has a kind and a compassionate way about him that is evident and has been evident in everything he has done as Attorney General.
It was evident in the way that he made a habit of making the rounds and dropping in on DOJ employees of every rank and every station just to say hello and to say thank you for your service. It is evident in the way that he has always cared so much for the victims of crime and of terrorism, a concern that was evidenced one particular night when I remember he stayed up well into the night to personally talk to the family of a terrorist's victim because he wanted to make sure they knew that certain disclosures were going to be made the next day.
It was evident the time that a number of us traveled to Europe, and Judge Gonzales insisted on changing plans so that he could visit a concentration camp and pay his respects to the victims of the Holocaust. And it was evident the day that I lost a loved one and he was the very first person to give me a note of sympathy, a small gesture but one that my family and I will always appreciate.
Those are the types of moments in which you truly get the measure of a person, and those are the things that I am thinking of when I tell people that Judge Gonzales is a good man. And they are also some of the reasons why I am proud to speak at his farewell ceremony here today, and to say on behalf of all my colleagues, my friends at the National Security Division, thank you, Judge. Thank you for your support. Thank you for your service. And thank you for your friendship.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is Lee Lofthus. Lee is the Assistant Attorney General in charge of Justice Administration. And he is not only going to speak, he is going to make a special presentation to the Attorney General on behalf of all the employees of the Department of Justice.
MR. LOFTHUS: Thank you. The speakers who have preceded me to the podium this afternoon have made wonderful remarks about the Attorney General's commitment to the Department and to the country, and his many accomplishments in so many important areas. What I would like to do is comment just for a moment on something that may not have been so visible to as many people, but that is something that has been tremendously important to the Department, to its employees, and ultimately to the American people.
In my role as the Department's financial officer, most of the occasions on which I saw the Attorney General were, as you might suspect, budget-related. As you've heard today, counterterrorism, national security, drug and anti-gang efforts, child protection programs, and other efforts to combat violent crime were our top priorities, and they have been the primary focus of our recent budgets, and rightly so.
But while we were focused on ensuring the dollars were there for national security and counterterrorism efforts, you should know that the Attorney General remained committed to ensuring the rest of the Department's programs were funded. He did this quietly, but he did this repeatedly.
The Attorney General's push to get more agents on the front end of law enforcement meant we needed to have prosecutors, litigators, marshals, correctional officers, prison and detention space on the back end. I can tell you on many occasions that the Attorney General would say at a budget session, make sure you get enough money for the Bureau of Prisons this year. Make sure they get the funding they need. And with his support, the Department was able to work with OMB and Congress to get that funding for both prison operations and for prison construction.
The Attorney General testified before Congress to emphasize the need to put more prosecutors in the courtrooms for the United States Attorneys. He ensured we had sufficient funding for our legal divisions. The Attorney General supported what us budget people called base adjustments to our budget. But that was tremendously important so we could adequately support the 100,000-plus people who work at the Department of Justice every day. And those are our career employees who've worked here, and they tremendously needed that support. And the Attorney General was there to give it.
These are not headline-makers by any means, but they meant a tremendous amount to our components and to our employees. And again, those were not highly visible things, but they were being done in the background and they meant a tremendous amount to the Department of Justice and to its employees.
General, it was an honor to serve with you. And at this point, if you would like to come up and join me for a moment. This cabinet contains all the badges of the entities in the Department of Justice and our law enforcement components. And it is traditional to give this to an Attorney General on behalf of the Department's employees.
So what I would like to do on behalf of those 100,000-plus employees, I would like to thank you for your leadership and for all the support you gave us. It has been an honor to serve with you. General.
MR. MORFORD: Our next speaker is the most important speaker who will speak today. And I learned a long time ago, when he came to visit our office in Nashville, that there is only one way to introduce him if you want to stay in his good graces: The Attorney General of the United States of America, and say nothing more.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much for that. That meant a lot.
I stand before you today sincerely grateful for the many wonderful memories that I have as the Attorney General. In representing this Department and you during the past two and a half years, I have met with the families of police officers killed in the line of duty, and spoken to children rescued from sexual predators. I have listened to young Hispanic men talk about their lives as gang members. I have worked with local officials in New Orleans to bring criminals to justice. And I have embraced our young men and women fighting in Iraq.
These experiences, and many more, have changed me, and they have reminded me of the many challenges that exist even for the greatest country in the world. But they have also confirmed for me the power of the people in this Department to give of themselves selflessly and to provide hope to others.
This Department is unique in its mission, in its talent, and in its work. I have been privileged to see firsthand the dedication of the career attorneys, the staff, employees of the Department every day of my tenure. This is a place of inspiration. That is true across all of its components and its divisions. It is a place where people in Washington and throughout the country come to work every day to try to do what is right. It is a place where we make a difference in the lives of people who protect our nation. And we bring justice to victims.
We work every day with living legends in the law, people like Jack Keeney. Next week Jack will celebrate his 60th year of federal service. Sixty years.
ATTORNEY GENERAL GONZALES: Jack served as an aviator in World War II, and he was a POW in Europe. He spearheaded the fight against organized crime under Attorney General Kennedy, and has supervised the Department's efforts against public corruption for decades. His service to our country and this institution is an inspiration to all of us.
And then there is David Margolis. Now, one thing every attorney general learns quickly in this job is to rely on David's experience, wisdom, advice, and counsel. Notwithstanding his brief daily naps and his eclectic office attire, he remains an inspiration also to all of us.
It is because of the work of the Jacks and the Davids, and of the career lawyers like them, that the mission of this Department will endure. And neither your patience is sufficient to talk about all of your great accomplishments that I have witnessed as Attorney General.
But I must note that this week, as Bob indicated, we observed the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a day which came to define much of our world. As Bob indicated, my day began today, as it has almost always during the past 32 months, with an intelligence briefing on the efforts of our enemies. And as I depart, I wish I wish that I could tell you that our work is done, that there are no threats. But I cannot.
Our enemy is resourceful and determined, and I will wonder and worry when I am gone what is being said in those briefings. But I leave with the confidence that both here at the Department and across the government, we have in place the best possible national security team, and that we have done and that we will continue to do all that we can within the law to meet these threats.
I am also particularly proud of the Department's work in protecting children. If there is an agreement, a consensus, about anything, it is that children are what are most dear to us and we must do everything that we can to protect them from being hurt.
And we have done that. Through Project Safe Childhood, we have build a lasting infrastructure that enhances the ability of law enforcement to target child predators. We have raised public awareness so that parents and communities can better protect kids. And we have put in place the funding and the resources that will allow this very critical mission, so important to our parents in this country, to continue.
Now, there are so many here today as well as across the country to whom I and our nation owe thanks for their service to this great institution. Over the past few weeks, I have expressed my thanks to many of you privately, and I want to use this opportunity to again extend my sincere gratitude for your service.
I am most indebted, of course, to my family, to my wife Becky and to my sons Jared, Graham, and Gabriel, all of whom join me here today. Thank you for your love and support. Like the families, so many families of countless employees of the Department, you have made sacrifices for me, and I could not have done this job without you. I have had many blessings in life, but none greater than each of you.
Let me also thank President Bush. He has on numerous occasions afforded me the great privilege of public service in Texas, at the White House, and in the Department of Justice as the Attorney General. I am profoundly grateful to him, and it has been a great honor to serve under his leadership.
And to all of you, please know that I leave today with the highest regard and admiration for the employees of the Department. And I leave having had the privilege and honor of serving as Attorney General. I pray that God continues to watch over you. May He guide your decisions, and may He bless the greatest country on the face of the earth, the United States. Thank you so much.
MR. MORFORD: If you noticed that, I didn't cut that off. I got pushed back up here. So if you don't believe people when they talk about humility, you just saw it.
Being the master of ceremonies, you have the ability to go last, which in a ceremony like this is not a good thing because, one, everything has been said; but two, you still have to say something. And I thought about what I could say, and I thought about the fact that we could talk about some of the accomplishments.
But every one that I could think of has already been spoken of except perhaps one, which nobody mentioned, which was the liberation of two very important individuals, the two statutes that stand on our left and right.
MR. MORFORD: Now, Will told me I should not say that. So thank you for clapping. It makes me feel a lot better. I told you, Will.
You know, some of this has been said but I want to say it my own way because to me it is the most important thing that can be said. And that is: Of all the achievements that we can talk about, the greatest achievement when you talk about the Attorney General is always going to center around and be about those fateful events of September 11th.
You cannot think about and you cannot discuss this man's service in this government during the last six years without discussing 9/11. If you think about it, he has been here in Washington for six and a half years serving this government, and six of those years, 90 percent of his service, came in the aftermath of 9/11.
I want you to think about that and think about what that means. You know, to put it in perspective, during the 200-plus years of our nation's existence, there have been very, very few attacks on this nation's soil. You can count them on one hand.
For the past sixty years, since Pearl Harbor, the leaders of our nation have not had to address a major successful attack on U.S. soil. For sixty years, people didn't have to think about these things. Yet for the past six years, we have had to address that reality above and beyond everything else we do in this building, in this town, in this nation, in fact throughout the whole world.
The attacks of 9/11 and the threat of more attacks like them have forced our leaders to make tough decision after tough decision, decisions where there was often little precedent and always no easy solution. But as a result of tough decisions that they were willing to make in uncharted waters, we are safer today than we were on September 11, 2001.
We are safer today than we were in 2000 when the U.S. embassy in Manila was bombed, and the USS Cole was bombed. We are safer today than we were in 1998 when the U.S. embassies were bombed in Kenya and Tanzania. We are safer today than we were in 1996 when the Khobar Towers were bombed. We are safer today than we were in 1993 when the towers were attacked the first time.
You know, based on the recent arrests involving plots at JFK Airport, the plot at Fort Dix, and most recently, in the last week, the arrests in Germany and Denmark, it is clear to everyone that indeed we have a greater capacity today to detect and disrupt acts of terrorism than we did on all those other occasions.
And that increased capacity has resulted from the incredibly hard work and leadership of Attorney General Gonzales, the people that you see seated on this stage, people that are sitting in this room today not just from the Department of Justice but from the Department of State, from the Department of Homeland Security, from the White House the people in this building, the career men and women of the Department of Justice who make up the heart and soul of this great institution, who are here year in and year out.
And many of them will be here ten and twenty and thirty years from now, the Jack Keeneys and the Dave Margolises, the President of the United States, the Congressmen and the Senators who have given us important, essential new tools through things like the Patriot Act and the just recently passed Protect America Act. This has truly been a historic time for those of us who have served our nation. And folks I just mentioned have accomplished historic achievements.
Attorney General Gonzales was front and center in all of those efforts. And I think that is going to be the legacy of him, of this Department, and of every person who has served in government these last six years.
But there is a second thing and equally important thing in which each and every one of us who served him will remember him and you heard a lot of people talk about it, and it is a common theme; and I am going to say it one more time, and then I am going to sit down and shut up and that is his humility in office and his grace under pressure.
My first real meeting of consequence with Attorney General Gonzales is one I am sure he will never forget. It took place in Chicago, and it was known as the infamous Chicago meeting. The AG had asked a handful of us U.S. Attorneys to meet with him in Chicago about three or four months ago to offer him our frank and candid advice. And as requested, we showed up, and we were very frank and we were very candid. And in some ways, we worried later that maybe we were too frank and too candid.
I remember his chief of staff, Kevin O'Connor, came up afterwards and said, well, that was frank and that was candid. And you know what? That meeting could have been very difficult. It could have been very unpleasant. And it could have been a very difficult thing for all of us who were involved, but for one thing, and that was the humility and grace of the man who had called the meeting.
He sat at that table and he listened politely to everything we had to say. And then he came back here to Washington and he made changes as a result of what we told him. And most refreshing of all, he never once held our frankness or our candor against us. In fact, he did just the opposite. And if he hadn't, I wouldn't be standing here today.
When I came here. I didn't know this man. And I was a little concerned about what it would be like to work for him. I came here, and I will tell you what I observed. I observed a good and decent man who has incredibly strong values, who deeply loves this country and his family, and works really hard to find the balance to give both of them the attention that they deserve. A very humble man who was never once taken by the trappings of his title. A man who consistently exhibited grace under pressure and always kept his sense of purpose and his sense of humor no matter what was happening around him.
It has been said that class is one of those valuable intangible personal traits that is in the highest of demand because it is so rare to find. Class is being a good person. It is having humility, poise, and displaying the self-confidence to conduct yourself with confidence without being arrogant.
For those of us who got to work with this man, we will never forget what it was like to serve in the immediate aftermath of September 11th. And on behalf of the men and women of the Department of Justice, Attorney General, I want to thank you for your steady leadership in a time of unique crisis in our nation's history like we have not seen before.
I want to thank you also for the example that you have shown each of us. You have truly been the man in the arena, and have shown uncommon grace, humility, and dedication to service that we can all emulate during times of future challenges. Thank you very much.
MR. MORFORD: We have one final presentation that we want to make here today, and it is a very great tradition. And this is the chair. And it has been purchased by the senior leaders of the Department of Justice, the cabinet chair presented to Attorney General Gonzales.
MR. MORFORD: I'd like to ask that you all remain standing. And at this time I am going to ask Elizabeth Law to come up and present the benediction. Elizabeth has been a close personal friend to Attorney General and Rebecca Gonzales for many years. She has a career in the nonprofit sector. She considers her greatest job to be raising her family's two children and supporting her husband, former Deputy Secretary Steven Law. And she will give us the benediction at this time. Thank you.
MRS. LAW: I have been asked to give the last word. And a benediction means a prayer blessing. So would you please join me as we pray for blessing for the Gonzales family.
Dear Lord God, You are the God of new beginnings. The first words in the Bible are, "In the beginning." And in the last book of the Bible, You state that You make everything new. It gives us hope, and it is a promise from You, Lord God.
We are now at this time and place of new dreams, hopes, and opportunities for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his family. We pray that You will bless them in every area of their lives. We ask that You would remember the years of service and sacrifice that he and his family have given to this country and its people, both in the state of Texas and for the country as a whole. Please bless the acts of service he has rendered.
And now, according to the most ancient of blessings that You, O Lord, spoke to Your servant, Moses, we repeat these words: The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.
In Your name I pray, amen.
MR. MORFORD: I want to thank all of you for joining us today. Thank you so much, Mrs. Law, for your inspirational words. And thank you, Attorney General, for your inspirational service.
And the Attorney General will receive invited guests up in Suite 551-11 for a reception. Thank you for joining us on this special day.