Department of Justice Seal

Remarks* Deputy Attorney General
Larry D. Thompson
DOJ Priorities
January 25, 2002

     On September 11, the wheel of history turned and the world will never be the same. The attacks of that day redefined the mission of the Department of Justice. Defending our nation and its citizens against terrorist attacks is now our first and overriding priority. To fulfill this mission, we are devoting all the resources necessary to eliminate terrorist networks, prevent terrorist attacks, and bring to justice all those who kill Americans in the name of murderous ideologies.

     But even as we go about the urgent task of protecting America against the threat of terrorism, we do so within a framework of justice that upholds other goals as well. The promotion of our core values - equal justice under the law, honesty and integrity, commitment to excellence and respect for the dignity and worth of each human being - does end in the fight against terrorism.

     The job of justice is to promote and defend the people's most basic right for themselves and their families to be secure in their homes, at their jobs and in their communities. We are committed, therefore, to reducing the threat and incidence of violent crime, especially crimes committed with guns. We are determined to reduce the threat, trafficking and violence caused by illegal drugs and to break the cycle of drugs and violence by reducing both the demand for and availability of illegal drugs. We are committed to helping states and local communities help themselves to reduce violence and defend the rule of law. We support innovative, community-based programs aimed at reducing crime, upholding the rights of victims, and promoting the resolution of racial tension.

     And justice is not served unless it is guaranteed for all Americans. The Department of Justice's commitment to uphold the civil rights of all Americans, reduce racial discrimination and promote reconciliation through vigorous enforcement of our civil rights laws is central to our mission to uphold the rule of law.

     We are charged with defending and enforcing the laws the protect our way of life. We will promote the stewardship of America's natural resources through the enforcement of our environmental laws. And we will promote economic competition through enforcement of our antitrust laws.

     We are charged with protecting America's borders and fairly and effectively administering the immigration and naturalization laws of the United States. Consistent with that mission, we will promote public safety by combating immigration-related crime and removing individuals, especially criminals, who are unlawfully present in the United States. At the same time, we will ensure that the first thing that greets new Americans is not a long line at the immigration office. We are committed to providing more timely and efficient services to those who seek to become Americans.

     Finally, we are charged with the maintenance of high standards throughout our justice system. This Department of Justice will protect Americans by providing for the safe, secure and humane confinement of persons in federal custody. We will ensure the integrity of our court system by protecting judges, witnesses and other participants in federal judicial proceedings. We will protect the rights of victims and assist them as their cases move through the federal justice system. And we will ensure the professionalism, excellence, accountability and integrity of Department of Justice activities and programs.

*NOTE: Mr. Thompson frequently speaks from notes and may depart from the speech as prepared. However, he stands behind the speech as presented in written format.