It is a privilege to be here, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today about issues of great importance to both our countries. Specifically, I’d like to discuss the importance of international cooperation in the fight against terrorism and transnational crime.
Every day, American and Israeli law enforcement officials are engaged in a common campaign against terrorism and transnational crime. We strive to keep our citizens safe from terrorist and criminal threats. We toil against the evils of the international narcotics trade. We fight to protect our children from human traffickers and child pornographers. We battle against corruption.
But the bond between America and Israel is about more than sharing these common struggles against injustice. Israel, like America, is a nation with a deep respect for the rule of law. We both enjoy open and democratic societies anchored by civil liberties and individual rights. And Israel is a nation that believes, as America does, that terrorism and transnational crime is best combated through international teamwork.
Prevailing over the forces of terror and transnational crime requires a strong and continued partnership, not only between America and Israel, but among all peace-loving nations around the world. As the Attorney General of the United States, I have seen first-hand the power of international cooperation on a wide range of national security and law enforcement challenges.
For example, in the fight against terrorism, international cooperation can disrupt violent and extremist conspiracies, degrade their ability to commit terrorist acts, and ultimately bring terrorists to justice. And in the fight against transnational crime more broadly, international cooperation can help to defeat organized crime, capture and extradite fugitives, reduce global corruption, and stem the flow of illegal drugs across our borders.
It is because I believe so strongly in international cooperation that I have traveled to the Middle East and Israel this week. I have come to talk, face-to-face, with my counterparts. I have come to build and strengthen the relationships that are critical to our mutual security. And I have come to discuss the ways in which we can improve our collaboration for the benefit of all our citizens.
Today I would like to tell you about some of the ways in which the Department of Justice is cooperating with its international law enforcement partners worldwide.
We are, of course, working closely with many other nations in the global war on terror. But in fighting terrorism, we have not neglected other forms of transnational crime. In fact, despite the tremendous demands on the Department in the post-9/11 world, our commitment to fighting crime has never been stronger.
We are cooperating with our international partners to fight everything from organized crime and drug trafficking to cybercrime, human trafficking, corruption and intellectual property crimes. We are working as a team, and we are making good progress. Our efforts in those areas might not always make front-page headlines, but they are critical to preserving the rule of law.
Let me begin by saying a few words about the war on terror – the international effort that does make front-page news every day. In this global struggle, the United States government has reached out to our international partners and secured unprecedented new levels of cooperation. That cooperation has often resulted in important anti-terrorism convictions in U.S. courts.
International cooperation, however, is about more than high-profile convictions. It is about establishing day-to-day working relationships among law enforcement officials worldwide.
That is why the U.S. Department of Justice has posted FBI attachés to various embassies around the world, including Israel, to aid in terrorism investigations. We have also sent Department of Justice prosecutors to dozens of countries to provide assistance with prosecuting all types of transnational crimes, including terrorism offenses.
In the global war on terror, the United States is investing the time and resources it takes to develop strong international partnerships. But those partnerships reap rewards well beyond the war on terror. They are also critical to fighting other types of transnational crime.
For example: one of the most harmful types of transnational crime is drug trafficking. Illegal drugs destroy lives and endanger the public safety. But I am proud to say the international law enforcement community is working together every day to keep drugs off our streets and out of our communities.
Israel and the United States have a history of working together to fight drug trafficking. I know that many of you may be familiar with the case of Ze’ev Rosenstein, who Israel recently extradited to the United States. In March of this year, Rosenstein appeared in U.S. federal court in Miami to face charges of conspiracy to import and distribute Ecstasy.
The indictment covers a two-year period during which Rosenstein is charged with heading a sophisticated drug trafficking network whose operations spanned four continents and involved the shipment of well over one million Ecstasy pills to the United States.
In its November 30, 2005 decision to extradite Rosenstein, the Israeli Supreme Court stated, quote: “There is now a greater importance to international cooperation in the fight against crime, and no state shall treat its fellow’s request for assistance stingily. The extradition of criminals has become a most important means in the fight against crime.”
I could not agree more. The truth is that bringing Rosenstein to justice would not have been possible without the extraordinary joint efforts of U.S. and Israeli authorities. In particular, the prosecution of Rosenstein has involved the close and full cooperation of the Justice Ministry of Israel and the Israel National Police.
The Rosenstein case highlights one of the most important ways in which we cooperate with our international law enforcement partners: our strong network of extradition treaties and mutual legal assistance treaties. These agreements allow the United States to share and receive assistance in obtaining evidence and bringing fugitives to justice around the world.
In all, the United States has more than 150 mutual legal assistance and extradition agreements, including a modern MLAT with Israel and a protocol to update the U.S. – Israel extradition treaty pending before the U.S. Senate. Those agreements are a central component of our international law enforcement strategy on a wide range of issues.
The terrific advancement of technology has brought great good to the citizens of our countries, but it has also created a vast new battleground for crime. Today, criminals can harm citizens from thousands of miles away with a keystroke or telephone call. This reality makes international dedication to combating cybercrime a modern priority, we must work to out-pace the technological know-how of the criminals.
We are proud to work side-by-side with Israel in this effort. For example, both the U.S. and Israel are members of the G8 “24/7 Point-of-Contact Network.” The Network facilitates quick international law enforcement cooperation where electronic evidence is involved – because such evidence can often disappear in a heartbeat. Participating countries designate a point of contact for the purpose of providing investigative assistance in computer crime cases 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. This Network has been used in both high tech crimes and in crimes where terrorists and other criminals use the Internet to communicate.
Progress is also being made to eradicate child pornography. From 1995 to 2005, U.S. government prosecutions of child pornography rose 358%, from 344 cases in 1995 to 1,576 cases in 2005. Many of those cases are the result of successful international cooperation.
One example of that cooperation was Operation Falcon, an international child pornography investigation that so far has resulted in 579 search warrants, 341 domestic and 703 foreign arrests, 254 indictments, and 241 convictions. In Operation Falcon, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Homeland Security worked hand-in-hand with our international partners to take down commercial purveyors of internet child pornography and to protect young, vulnerable victims from the horrors of sexual abuse.
Other forms of transnational crime also prey upon the weakest among us. One of those is human trafficking, a modern form of slavery.
Few people disagree that human trafficking is one of the world’s most depraved criminal practices. Yet these crimes happen more often than we would like to believe. The global community must renew its commitment to working together to take down trafficking rings and organizations that buy and sell human beings as slaves and commodities.
The sharing of information and evidence is critical to fighting this battle. It is also imperative that we help each other extradite human traffickers so that they face justice for their abhorrent actions.
Here is a compelling example of this: In one case, a Mexican national was accused of recruiting uneducated women and girls from impoverished areas of Mexico and forcing them into a high-volume prostitution business in both Mexico and New York. The trafficker’s victims were enslaved in the most horrible way, their lives and bodies torn apart, beaten if they did not make enough money.
With the assistance of Mexican authorities, the Department of Justice was able to obtain the evidence it needed to indict the trafficker in federal court in New York.
We are also working closely with our international partners to fight human trafficking in less visible ways. Just this month, I submitted an annual report to Congress regarding the U.S. government’s efforts to combat human trafficking.
The report detailed Department of Justice efforts to assist with the drafting of anti-trafficking legislation in countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia and Mexico. Department experts conducted training with law enforcement officials around the world – including in Israel – regarding sex trafficking prosecution. And the Department’s overseas prosecutorial and police training programs helped nations from Costa Rica to Indonesia to strengthen their ability to investigate and prosecute human trafficking crimes.
In addition to violent and abusive crimes such as child pornography and human trafficking, we are also working with our international partners on a range of other transnational crimes, such as intellectual property theft.
Intellectual property crimes have become terribly common. Counterfeit and pirated goods are too easy to access – from bootleg CDs, DVDs and games, to fake watches and sunglasses on street corners, to online file sharing. Although these crimes may appear harmless to some, the fact of the matter is that this manner of theft is one of the most damaging to our global economy.
Criminals who manufacture and sell fake merchandise steal business from honest merchants, defraud innocent customers, illegally profit from the hard work of employees and entrepreneurs, and undermine our shared values of competition and creativity. This underground economy costs legitimate businesses billions of dollars every year, and causes significant harm to our economies.
Intellectual property crime is now undeniably global in nature. The digital age has created a world without borders for large criminal conspiracies, so our law enforcement efforts must be global and borderless as well. Every member of the global economy has a responsibility to keep counterfeit goods out of the world market.
America and Israel are working together to meet that responsibility. In 2004, the U.S. and Israel were two of 12 countries to participate in what was then the largest multi-national law enforcement effort ever directed at online piracy, called “Operation Fastlink.”
Operation Fastlink included the simultaneous execution of over 120 total searches in 27 states and 12 countries. This unprecedented international effort resulted in hundreds of computers and illegal online distribution centers being confiscated or dismantled, and more than 50 million dollars worth of illegally-copied copyrighted software, games, movies and music being seized. Operation Fastlink has already resulted in 30 felony convictions in the United States.
I’d like to end by talking about international efforts to combat corruption around the world. President Bush has stated that corruption, quote: “hinders sustainable development, erodes confidence in democratic institutions, and facilitates transnational crime and terrorism.”
It is that link between terrorism, transnational crime and corruption that makes fighting corruption such an important priority for the United States.
For example, we are aggressively investigating violations of our Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which as you may know makes it illegal for U.S. companies and individuals doing business overseas to bribe foreign officials. We are also working extremely hard to root out bribery in the Iraq reconstruction process.
And in partnership with the Department of State, we are working with our international partners to build and strengthen the ability of prosecutors around the world to fight corruption.
Additionally, we are working within the framework of international organizations such as the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to help other countries fight corruption. The OECD Anti-bribery Convention and the OECD Working Group on Bribery, for example, provide important avenues to cooperate with our counterparts to combat bribery in international business transactions.
Just last week, a Department of Justice witness testified before the United States Senate in favor of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption. The U.N. Convention Against Corruption, which both the U.S. and Israel have signed, will create new opportunities for international law enforcement cooperation to combat corruption around the world.
Among other things, the Convention requires countries to criminalize offenses such as domestic and foreign bribery, embezzlement, money laundering and obstruction of justice. The Convention also provides new mechanisms for extradition and mutual legal assistance related to corruption and money laundering offenses. Finally, the convention makes it easier to freeze and seize the ill-gotten gains of corrupt officials.
We believe that all of these measures will have a direct impact on international efforts to prevent, investigate and prosecute corruption. And they will create new avenues for international cooperation on corruption-related crimes.
By fighting against corruption on a global level, we restore confidence in democracy and the rule of law. We bolster the global economy by encouraging open trade and investment. We strengthen the stability, integrity and transparency of government and economic systems worldwide.
For that reason, we will continue to work with our international partners to prosecute corruption crimes and seize ill-gotten assets of corrupt officials.
In closing, I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to speak to you today. And on behalf of President Bush, I would like to thank Israel for being such a strong partner in the global war on terror and the fight against transnational crime.
In 1967, I was twelve years old and although many years have passed since then, I still recall the turmoil as the Six Day War played out before the world. Israel has been shaped and sharpened by the many challenges it has faced over its life. I am optimistic about the future of this country and by the vision for peace articulated by President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert when they met this past May.
Although we each might face our own domestic challenges – and require unique solutions – the mandate for international cooperation and joint law enforcement efforts is stronger today than ever before. We therefore must embrace multilateral solutions to the challenge of transnational crime.
Freedom, security and prosperity are not just for Americans or Israelis. They are the enduring hopes of all humanity. To secure those ideals, America and Israel must continue to cooperate closely with each other and with our partners in the Middle East, Europe, and around the world.
I look forward to continuing our strong partnership. Thank you.