Department of Justice Seal

Attorney General John Ashcroft
Testimony before the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee
April 1, 2003

(Note: The Attorney General Often Deviates From Prepared Remarks)

   Good morning, Chairman Gregg, Ranking Member Hollings, and Members of the Subcommittee:

   We are at war. And I know that as we watch events unfolding overseas, our prayers and our thoughts are with those young men and women who are defending freedom. We pray also for those families who have lost loved ones or whose loved ones have been captured or are missing in action. Their efforts in the defense of freedom a noble cause will never be forgotten. We will honor their sacrifice with an ever-vigilant commitment in our war on terrorism.

   Indeed, the first and overriding priority of this budget and of the Department is to protect America from acts of terrorism and bring terrorists to justice. I am pleased to be here to present the President's fiscal year 2004 budget request for the Department of Justice, and I thank you for your continued assistance in providing the Department of Justice with resources to detect, disrupt, and dismantle terrorist activity.

   The Justice Department's terrorism prevention efforts have included planning for the possibility of intensified conflict with Iraq. Last spring, the FBI began developing an action plan to address any related threats that might face us in this conflict. An Iraqi Task Force plan was developed in addition to the integrated prevention security framework put in place after the September 11th attacks.

   The Iraqi Task Force plan includes:

   Out of these voluntary interviews, we appreciate the valuable information we have gained from the cooperation of the Iraqi community in the United States. This cooperation has assisted us in our efforts in Iraq, as well as in our own domestic anti-terrorism efforts. We have gathered intelligence about such things as Iraqi bunkers, tunnel systems, telecommunications networks, manufacturing plants and Iraqi military officials. This information is being shared and analyzed by our law enforcement, military and intelligence officials.

   On March 25, 2003, the President submitted a supplemental budget request for fiscal year 2003 to address the continuing threat to the national security of the United States posed by Iraq. For the Department of Justice, the request includes $500 million for the Counterterrorism Fund to meet terrorism-related prevention and response requirements.

   Among our top priorities for the use of this funding are critical items for the FBI that address response capabilities, security enhancements, language translation services, operational field expenses, and surveillance support. We also anticipate using a small portion of this funding to meet increased U.S. Marshals Service security requirements for the federal judiciary and to upgrade the capability of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review for its role in the FISA warrant process.

   The President's overall Justice Department budget request I am discussing today will strengthen our capacity to fulfill all of the Department's top priorities. The President's budget requests $23.3 billion for the Department of Justice, including $19 billion in discretionary funding and $4.3 billion for the Department's mandatory and fee-funded accounts.

   The September 11 attacks made it clear that America's defense requires a new culture of prevention, nurtured by cooperation, built on coordination, and rooted in our Constitutional liberties. The Justice Department is battling terrorism by integrating, not separating, our law enforcement capacity; and integrating, not separating, our intelligence capabilities.

   Our integrated terrorism prevention strategy is having an impact on terrorist threats. Listen to the recorded conversation between charged terrorist-cell-member Jeffrey Battle and an FBI informant on May 8, 2002, in Portland, Oregon.

   In his conversation unsealed in court, Battle explained why his threatening enterprise was not as organized as he thought it should be (quote):

". . . because we don't have support. Everybody's scared to give up any money to help us. You know what I'm saying? Because that law that Bush wrote about, you know, supporting terrorism, whatever, the whole thing . . . Everybody's scared . . . He made a law that says for instance I left out of the country and I fought, right, but I wasn't able to afford a ticket but you bought my plane ticket, you gave me the money to do it . . . By me going and me fighting and doing that they can, by this new law, they can come and take you and put you in jail."

   Mr. Chairman, terrorists clearly recognize the effectiveness of the laws passed by Congress and utilized by the Department to disrupt terrorist activity.

   It is a credit to our new investigative tools, the hard work of the law enforcement community and our intelligence agencies, as well as a vigilant public, that we have not suffered another major terrorist attack in this country. The FBI indicates that since September 11th, 2001, over 100 terrorist plots have been disrupted.

   Nevertheless, as the President recently stated, "There is no such thing as perfect security against a hidden network of cold-blooded killers. Yet abroad and at home, we're not going to wait until the worst dangers are upon us."

   Therefore, we will continue to seek the assistance of Congress as we enhance a culture of prevention and ensure the resources of our government are dedicated to defending Americans. Now, I would like to give you a brief overview of the results to date of our integrated prevention strategy to fight the war on terrorism:

     First, we are gathering and cultivating detailed intelligence on terrorism in the U.S.:

     Second, we are arresting and detaining potential terrorists:

    Third, we are dismantling the terrorist financial network:

    Fourth, we are disrupting potential terrorist travel:

    Fifth, we are building our long-term counter-terrorism capacity:

   We have made tremendous progress, but there is always more to be done. To that end, the budget request includes an increase of $598.2 million for programs that support our mission to prevent and combat terrorism, including $516.2 million to enhance or complement the FBI's Counter-terrorism Program.

   Even as the men and women of the Justice Department fight the war on terrorism, we do so within a framework of justice that upholds our other crucial responsibilities. I will briefly review these other core missions:

   First, the Department of Justice has taken decisive action to combat corporate corruption and punish corporate law-breakers. The relentless work of the Corporate Fraud Task Force, chaired by Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson, has resulted in:

   The Department is committed to ensuring a marketplace of integrity and restoring the confidence of American investors and protecting their assets. To that end the fiscal year 2004 budget requests $24.5 million to support the Corporate Fraud Task Force.

   Second, the Department of Justice has continued to fight the scourge of illegal drugs. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, we have:

   The FY 2004 budget request includes $117.9 million to augment our efforts to reduce the availability of illegal drugs, to identify and dismantle drug trafficking organizations, and to support drug treatment.

   Third, the Department of Justice has prevented and prosecuted crimes against children by:

   Fourth, the Department of Justice has provided increasing protection to Americans from gun crime. In the first two years of this Administration's Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative to combat gun crime, we have:

   Our successes in these areas would not be possible without the diligence and hard work of state and local law enforcement agencies. To that end, the Administration is requesting $8.5 billion for first responders and state and local law enforcement $2 billion in the current war supplemental that is pending and $6.5 billion in the FY 2004 budget requests for the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security.

   Fifth, the Department of Justice has protected vigorously the civil rights of all Americans:

   Obviously, our Department has other vital missions I have not been able to address fully here but would be happy to address during questions. For example, the Department's Antitrust Division successfully settled the Microsoft case, receiving praise from Judge Kollar-Kotelly for "the clear, consistent, and coherent manner" in which the Division reached this historic settlement. On the criminal enforcement front, last year, individuals convicted for antitrust violations and related criminal offenses received a record average sentence of greater than 18 months.

   Mr. Chairman, as we work to achieve our Department's objectives, I appreciate your continued support and I would be pleased to answer your questions.