Good afternoon, Chairman Wolf, Congressman Mollohan, and Members of the subcommittee:
The men and women of the Department of Justice are working every day to secure the opportunities of the American Dream for all Americans. As Attorney General, I want to ensure that our neighborhoods are safe, secure, and prosperous. This is a large and important goal, and one that we have made steady progress on over the past few years.
Today I present the President’s FY 2007 Budget for the Department of Justice. This budget, which requests $19.5 billion, will allow us to serve the American people by working for stronger, safer communities.
Included in the budget are the Department’s six major priorities for the coming year:
Number one: Protecting our Nation from the devastation of terrorism, by improving our counterterrorism initiatives.
Two: Combating the violent crime that still plagues some of our communities, especially violence perpetrated with guns or by gangs.
Three: Dismantling drug trafficking organizations and stopping the spread of illegal drugs, especially methamphetamine.
Four: Ensuring that the Internet is a safe and prosperous place for all Americans, especially children.
Five: Protecting Americans’ civil rights by prosecuting illegal discrimination. And six: Ensuring the integrity of our government and corporate marketplace, by rooting out corruption.
Mr. Chairman, in an Administration that is committed to controlling overall government spending, this budget prioritizes our top public safety needs. This is a budget that builds on our expertise; launches new programs, including a National Security Division; and eliminates or cuts programs that have not met our high standards. It focuses State and local assistance on priorities established by the Administration and Congress.
With your help and support, we can make America a safer place for law-abiding American citizens and a tougher place for criminals.
Our highest priority is to stop the terrorists who seek to destroy the American promise of liberty and prosperity. Waging the war on terror has been among the most difficult challenges that the Justice Department and the government has ever undertaken. But we have made great progress, as evidenced by the hundreds of convictions we have obtained in terrorism-related investigations, and by the terror cells we have located and broken up from coast to coast. Still, we all know al-Qaeda remains a threat. I thank Congress for reauthorizing the Patriot Act and continuing to provide critical tools for law enforcement and intelligence in the War on Terror. The Act also makes possible our new National Security Division, which will enable us to house our counterterrorism and counterintelligence prosecutors side by side, making it faster and easier to connect the dots. The threat of terrorism is not going away, and neither is our commitment to do everything we can to stop it. And so we are requesting over $330 million for new and directed counterterrorism and intelligence programs to protect our Nation from this continuing threat.
Every American deserves to live free from the fear of violent crime. The President’s Project Safe Neighborhoods is taking criminals off the streets and reducing gun and gang crime. Our efforts are working – crime has plunged to thirty year lows, resulting in thousands of Americans in your hometowns and mine that have not been threatened, have not been harmed, and have not been violated by gangs with guns. However, gang violence is still a problem, and this budget requests over $22 million in enhancements and almost $163 million in State and local grants to further liberate our communities from gang and gun crime.
Illegal drugs poison children, destroy lives and threaten the safety and the prosperity of our communities. Methamphetamine is particularly destructive to lives and communities. The Department has worked harder than ever to combat methamphetamine over the past year. We have successfully dismantled some of the most deadly drug organizations that dump drugs into our neighborhoods. This budget requests almost $235 million in enhancements to stem the supply of drugs from overseas and to secure our homeland and shut down our borders to illegal aliens.
The Internet must be a safe and prosperous place for all Americans, especially our children. The new Project Safe Childhood initiative that I recently announced is designed to complement our other efforts to secure for every child the most important gift that we can give – a safe environment in which to live, grow, and learn. Through this initiative we will identify, prosecute and lock up those who victimize our children through the possession, production and distribution of child pornography, and those who use the shadow of the Internet to lure minors into sexual activity. In this budget, we seek more than $186 million to help end the sexual exploitation of children and the proliferation of obscenity.
Securing the American Dream requires protecting individuals from illegal discrimination. I am pleased that the Department prosecuted a record number of criminal civil rights cases in the last two year period, but I am asking the Civil Rights Division to do even more to vigorously protect our citizens’ rights to work, to vote, and to buy or rent a home free from discrimination. We are seeking over $113 million for the Civil Rights Division to accomplish these goals. We have also launched a new initiative, “Operation Home Sweet Home,” which expands our Fair Housing Act testing program. The Division is also focused on eradicating the modern-day slavery of human trafficking. Prosecutions of this crime have increased over 300% during this Administration, but even one victim is too many. In the coming year, we will continue our efforts to locate and rescue the victims of this atrocity.
The sixth and final priority I want to emphasize is the Department’s fight against government and corporate corruption. Honesty and integrity in government and in business are essential for a strong America. Prosperity cannot flourish if taxpayers and investors lose their confidence in these institutions. As part of our anti-corruption commitment, more than 200 new FBI agents have been added in the past three years to anti-corruption squads across the United States – agents whose only job is to investigate corruption wherever it is found.
Virtually all of these priorities require our federal prosecutors to do more. Over the past several years, Congress has been supportive in providing law enforcement with more agents and investigators to detect crime. But now that we have more cops on the street, we need more prosecutors in the courtroom to make sure that the criminals we identify are brought to justice. Accordingly, I am asking that you fully fund the budget for the United States Attorneys, and also provide $23 million in enhancements, funding that will provide additional prosecutors to ensure justice in communities across the Nation.
Just two weeks ago, I met with all of our U.S. Attorneys and I congratulated them on their excellent record of prosecutions and legal victories. I asked them to maintain their on-going efforts while simultaneously executing the priorities that I have laid out today. I expect them to continue to achieve efficiencies where possible, so that they do more to secure the communities they serve. But today, I also ask you, Chairman Wolf, Congressman Mollohan, and Members of the subcommittee: Please give these superb professionals the support they need to make our neighborhoods safer and more secure.
The priorities I outlined today in no way reflect all of our many important responsibilities. The Department of Justice serves as the Nation’s chief prosecutor and litigator, representing the people of the United States in court not just to prosecute crime, but also to protect intellectual property, enforce immigration laws, safeguard the environment, defend the laws that Congress passes, and protect the national treasury against fraud. The Department also protects our communities by safely and securely confining all of the people in federal custody. These are all tremendous responsibilities and require sufficient resources as well.
Securing the American Dream for all Americans is an easy thing to say, but a very difficult thing to do. In the past few years, America has been a safer, more secure place than it was a decade ago. We have faced many challenges and made great strides. Others are still before us. You have my commitment that the men and women at the Department of Justice will work hard every day, with the resources you provide, to make the communities that we both serve as safe, secure, and prosperous as possible.