Remarks of Deputy Attorney General
Larry D. ThompsonInternational and National Security Coordinators' Conference
August 20, 2001
"Welcome and Remarks of the Deputy Attorney General"
(Transnational Crime and the Security of the United States)
Good morning. Let me begin by joining those who have preceded me on this dais in welcoming you to Washington, to the Willard Hotel and to this important training. I am extremely pleased to be able to spend a few minutes with you, my colleagues in law enforcement, on this first day of the International and National Security Coordinators' Conference. I want express my appreciation to EOUSA's Office of Legal Education for putting this conference together, and for giving me the opportunity to share some of my thoughts on the ever-increasing problems we face in the areas of international crime and national security.
The Importance of the International and National Security Coordinators' Program
While this is the first opportunity I have had as Deputy Attorney General to meet most of you, I am well aware of the important role that the Coordinators play in each United States Attorney's office. As some of you may know, I was privileged to serve as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia during the Reagan administration. In that position, I quickly learned that investigations and cases that first appeared to be local or at best regional in scope, could quickly develop national and even international implications. It was difficult enough dealing with state and local authorities, multiple law enforcement agencies and various U.S. Attorneys Offices around the country that might have an interest in the criminal activity under investigation - but when international, or even worse, national security issues arose, we needed help. Since that time, we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the globalization of crime, which in a myriad of ways--many of which will be discussed at this conference--poses a direct threat to the national security, prosperity and well-being of the United States and its citizens. We must now routinely take into account the importance of international cooperation, particularly in the areas of evidence gathering and extradition, if we are to effectively investigate and prosecute criminal activity. The International and National Security Coordinators' program was initiated almost a decade ago by then-Assistant Attorney General Robert Mueller to help address this growing problem. The purpose of this program is to establish points of contact and develop "in-house expertise" in each district to call upon when international and national security issues arise in the investigation and prosecution of criminal activity. It is critical that we continue to develop our understanding, knowledge and expertise in these areas if we are to effectively confront the problem of international crime - not just here in Washington, but in every region of our country, and in every U.S. Attorney's Office. The International and National Security Coordinators Program, and each of you, are in the forefront of that effort.
The Globalization of Crime
As I look around this room today, I know that you are well aware of the dramatic increase in the scale and extent of international criminal activity. Criminals often plan crimes and target people and assets within our nation and within your districts, from outside of the jurisdiction of the United States. Criminal activity committed along our 3,000 mile northern border and our 2, 500 mile southern border often involves criminals operating in the United States as well as in Canada and Mexico. Crimes and overt acts are committed, and victims, witnesses and evidence are located on both sides of the border. Criminal organizations and enterprises can be found operating in the cities and towns of the United States, as well as in almost every country around the globe - and have truly become a worldwide threat. These enterprises engage in a wide range of illegal activities including drug trafficking, terrorism, the smuggling of contraband and of human beings, all manner of fraud, cybercrime, money laundering, economic espionage, corruption, counterfeiting and a host of other crimes. International criminals in today's world ignore jurisdictional and geographic borders except when seeking safe haven from prosecution behind them. These criminals are highly mobile, and continually move sums of money through our national and international financial systems in aggregate amounts so large they dwarf the economies of many nations. Increasingly, international criminals band together in multi-crime businesses, some loosely organized, others highly structured, capitalizing on the growth in world-wide communication and transportation to expand their criminal operations and to form potent alliances. Criminal acts of terrorism against people and property are steadily increasing. The use of computers and electronic information in criminal activity is adding new dimensions (many of them international in scope) to traditional concepts of investigation........ The role of the federal prosecutor is changing. Our response to the corrosive activities of these international criminals must no longer be confined to enforcement efforts which are limited by jurisdictional or geographic boundaries. Nor can our efforts continue to focus on only one type of criminal activity at a time. To be truly effective, law enforcement must constantly seek new ways to cooperate, share information and resources and to coordinate our efforts. We must continue to develop relationships and mechanisms to increase international cooperation in the gathering of evidence and the extradition of fugitives. We must continue to explore ways in which the Intelligence Community can effectively share information regarding criminal activity, in appropriate circumstances, with law enforcement. We must be alert to issues which impact our national security interests - even when they arise during the investigation and prosecution of what appears to be "domestic" criminal activity. In short - we must begin to think globally in considering our response to crime.
The International and National Security Coordinators Conference
I am particularly pleased to see that this conference is bringing together attorneys from: the United States Attorneys Offices, the Department of Justice in Washington, the State Department, the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DIA and other elements of the Intelligence Community. It is critical that we share our experiences in order to broaden our understanding in these complex areas. In looking over the agenda, I wish my schedule permitted me to join you in discussing some of these areas: The status of international cooperation in law enforcement matters - from bilateral and multilateral perspectives; dealing with classified information; interaction between the intelligence and law enforcement communities; transnational organized crime; case studies on the problems faced in investigations dealing with terrorism and espionage; the forfeiture of assets abroad; the challenges raised in cybercrime investigations; and utilizing DOJ's overseas personnel. You will be discussing complex and sometimes extremely difficult areas, but all of this points out the simple fact that your role as coordinator is extremely important - and you have a fascinating job!
In closing, I would like to again say what an honor and a privilege it is for me to be able to welcome all of you to this Conference. I want you to know that you have the full support and admiration for the outstanding work that you do, not only from my office, but from Attorney General John Ashcroft, AAG Michael Chertoff, and EOUSA Director Kenneth Wainstein.
Enjoy the conference and your time in Washington. I look forward to working with you.