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Press Release

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer Announces New Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section in Criminal Division

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs
Office of Special Investigations and Domestic Security Section Merge to Strengthen Human Rights Violator Program

WASHINGTON – Today Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division announced the formation of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section (HRSP), the first new section to be formed in the Criminal Division since 2008. The new section represents a merger of the Criminal Division’s Domestic Security Section (DSS) and the Office of Special Investigations (OSI).

“Since its founding, the United States has been a steadfast champion for the cause of justice around the world,” said Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer. “In that great tradition, the new Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section is poised to be a global leader in combating human rights violations and ensuring that war criminals are held to account for their crimes.”

Current chief of the Domestic Security Section, Teresa L. McHenry, will serve as the chief of the new HRSP section. Current OSI Director Eli M. Rosenbaum will be the Director of Human Rights Enforcement Strategy and Policy. Current deputy chiefs David Jaffe and William Ho-Gonzalez in DSS and Robert G. Thomson and Dr. Elizabeth B. White in OSI will serve as deputy chiefs in the HRSP section.

McHenry has served the Department of Justice with distinction for more than two decades, including since 2002 as the chief of DSS. She previously led the Criminal Division’s Alien Smuggling Task Force and has served as a trial attorney in the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia and a prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School and Rice University.

Rosenbaum began his legal career as an intern in the Office of Special Investigations and ultimately became its director in 1995. He also served previously as a corporate litigation associate with Simpson Thacher & Bartlett in Manhattan and as general counsel of the World Jewish Congress. Rosenbaum received his juris doctorate from Harvard Law School and graduated summa cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, from which he also received his MBA degree.

“The passion and intelligence both Teresa and Eli bring to their work is evident in the extraordinary record of successful investigations and prosecutions amassed by OSI and DSS,” added Breuer. “Together, these two extraordinary leaders and the attorneys they guide will raise our already impressive human rights program to new heights.”

The possible merger was first announced during Assistant Attorney General Breuer’s Oct. 6, 2009, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law. Congress formally approved the merger on March 24, 2010.

OSI was originally created in 1979 to investigate and prosecute participants in World War II-era acts of Nazi-sponsored persecution.  In December 2004, its mission was expanded under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act to include investigating and bringing federal legal actions to revoke the citizenship of any naturalized U.S. citizen who committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated abroad in genocide or, under color of foreign law, torture or extrajudicial killing.  OSI has been widely recognized as the world leader in identifying, investigating and prosecuting World War II-era Nazi criminals, and the unit has achieved outstanding results in its “modern” human rights violator enforcement work as well. Since its inception, OSI has won cases against 107 individuals who participated in Nazi-sponsored persecution.  In addition, more than 180 suspected participants in Axis crimes who sought to enter the United States have been blocked from doing so as a result of OSI’s “Watchlist” program, which is enforced in cooperation with the Departments of State and Homeland Security.

DSS was formed in 2002 and since that time has worked to ensure the security of the United States through prosecution and policy work in three areas: international human rights violations; certain federal crimes of violence committed outside the United States including those brought under the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act; and complex immigration and border crimes. HRSP will continue DSS’s work in all three areas. As part of its work against human rights violators, in 2008, DSS trial attorneys, along with their partner Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Southern District of Florida, obtained the first federal torture conviction against Roy M. Belfast Jr., aka Chuckie Taylor, for crimes related to the torture of people in Liberia between April 1999 and July 2003.

Updated September 15, 2014

Press Release Number: 10-347