“This legislation creates a new position of Assistant Attorney General for National Security. This will allow the Justice Department to bring together its national security, counterterrorism, counterintelligence and foreign intelligence surveillance operations under a single authority. This reorganization fulfills one of the critical recommendations of the WMD Commission: It will help our brave men and women in law enforcement connect the dots before the terrorists strike.” President George W. Bush, March 9, 2006
The USA PATRIOT Act provides valuable tools for law enforcement that help keep America safe from the threat of terrorism. One important provision contained in the recent bill is the creation of a new National Security Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ). The National Security Division will merge the Department’s primary national security elements, fulfilling a key recommendation of the March 31, 2005 report of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD Commission).
The new Division will consolidate the strengths of the Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections of the Criminal Division, as well experts from the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) who specialize in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This reorganization will allow the Department to fight threats to our national security more effectively and with less bureaucratic red tape.
The consolidation will ensure greater coordination and unity of purpose among the Department’s primary organizational units that handle matters of national security. Now, following passage of PATRIOT Act reauthorization bill, the Justice Department is actively engaged in efforts to stand up the new Nation Security Division, specifically:
Today, the President announced his nomination of Kenneth Wainstein, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, to serve as Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division. Wainstein is uniquely suited to serve in this new capacity. He is a career federal prosecutor, serving first in the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York between 1989 and 1992, and then in the District of Columbia between 1992 and 2001, where he specialized in the prosecution of federal racketeering cases against violent street gangs, including the gang responsible for the Starbucks triple murder that occurred in Washington in 1997. From 2001 to 2002, Wainstein served as Director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, where he oversaw and supported the operations of the 94 United States Attorneys’ Offices. He served as General Counsel and then Chief of Staff at the FBI between 2002 and 2004, where he helped manage the Bureau through a period of extraordinary transformation as it prepared to meet the demands of the 21st century. And most recently, as U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, he has overseen prosecutions ranging from the conviction of Riggs Bank for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, to the indictment of a jihadist involved in roadside attacks against American forces in Iraq, to the successful trial and conviction of the violent Vatos Locos gang that had terrorized parts of Washington.
The creation of the National Security Division reorganizes DOJ resources so that the Department can be as effective as possible in its anti-terrorism efforts. Today, the Attorney General submitted a request to Congress for a $10 million reprogramming allocation to ensure that the National Security Division is established as quickly and efficiently as possible. The reprogramming funds, to come from the Asset Forfeiture Fund Super Surplus, will provide for the initial executive leadership and administrative functions of the National Security Division.
Last month, the Department requested $67 million in the President’s 2007 budget to fund the new Division’s activities into next year. That funding request adds 21 attorneys in OIPR and 12 attorneys in the Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections of the National Security Division. These additions will help enable more vigorous oversight of the intelligence community, meet the increased workload of intelligence searches and surveillances, and ensure that cases involving trade in weapons of mass destruction are aggressively pursued.
The National Security Division will further improve coordination against terrorism within the Department of Justice and with the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, and other intelligence community agencies. The new Division will consolidate the resources of OIPR and the Criminal Division’s Counterterrorism and Counterespionage Sections. These organizational changes will strengthen the Department’s efforts to combat terrorism and other threats to national security.
Initially, the majority of affected DOJ employees will remain in their present locations, but additional secure work space is being constructed in the Robert F. Kennedy (Main Justice) Building. The Division will initially encompass approximately 225 employees.
Establishing the National Security Division of the Justice Department will be another important step to ensure that those fighting terrorism on a daily basis are doing so in the most efficient way possible. The Attorney General hopes to complete the stand up of the new Division as soon as possible. The Division will become functional soon as Congress approves the reprogramming request and confirms Kenneth Wainstein as the first Assistant Attorney General for National Security.