Justice News

Attorney General Holder Delivers Remarks at the Criminal Division Awards Ceremony
Washington, DC
United States
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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Leslie [Caldwell], for those kind words – and for your outstanding leadership as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division.  It’s a pleasure to share the stage with you, with Deputy Attorney General [Jim] Cole, and with so many other distinguished members of the Justice Department family.  And it’s a great privilege, as always, to join you in recognizing the extraordinary contributions of our dedicated colleagues; as we call attention to their inspiring individual efforts and collective accomplishments; and as we express our thanks and appreciation for their tireless work over the past year – to help achieve justice in every case, in every circumstance, and in every community. 

I’d like to thank all of the Criminal Division leaders and support staff members who have worked so hard to make this event a success – as well as the numerous department leaders, colleagues, former colleagues, and past award recipients who are here today for this important celebration.  It’s a particular honor to join such a distinguished group in welcoming all of the proud family members, friends, and special guests who have taken the time to be here in the Great Hall, and whose support – and sacrifices – have been essential to everything that our awardees have accomplished.  Make no mistake: every one of you shares in the recognitions that we are about to bestow.

Every day, this year’s Criminal Division awards recipients – and so many other dedicated men and women both in, and far beyond, this room – make a profound, positive difference on behalf of the American people.  Your work is central to the mission of this department, and to the promise of our nation: the promise of equal justice under law.  Your efforts help to protect, and to realize, the rights – of safety, security, opportunity, and justice – to which your fellow citizens are entitled.  And all across the country – from our biggest cities, to our smallest towns; from rural areas to tribal lands – you play a crucial role in improving public safety, keeping dangerous criminals off the streets, cracking down on financial and health care fraud, and safeguarding the most vulnerable members of society from violence, exploitation, and abuse.

Especially over the past year, your work has led the Department of Justice to make remarkable – and, in some cases, even historic – progress in fulfilling the responsibilities we share.  And that’s why, today, although we single out 136 extraordinary, talented, and deserving Criminal Division attorneys, investigators, paralegals, support staff members, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and law enforcement personnel, I also want to take this opportunity to thank every one of this division’s employees, and their family members, for all that they’ve done in the name of public service.

It’s worth noting, in particular, that this year’s awardees helped to secure the largest financial penalty ever imposed in a criminal case, in United States v. BNP Paribas.  You helped to execute a groundbreaking take-down operation that dismantled the notorious Gameover Zeus botnet.  You’ve led our national efforts to implement “Smart on Crime” reforms that are strengthening – and recalibrating – America’s criminal justice system for the 21st century.  And you’ve made tremendous strides in a variety of additional areas – from ensuring the vigorous enforcement of federal laws and protecting national security, to restoring the integrity of our financial markets; from intervening in communities devastated by the cycle of poverty, incarceration, and crime, to forging relationships of trust and mutual respect where these bonds have been eroded over the years. 

In so doing, you have achieved justice for so many who have been victimized, and shielded others from crime.  And you’ve extended the record of achievement that has surely defined today’s Criminal Division as one of the most effective in American history.

Most impressively, you’ve accomplished all of this in a time of evolving challenges and escalating global threats.  I know that, in many ways, your jobs have never been tougher, and the work you perform has never been more complex – or more urgent.  Yet the leaders in this room have persevered – not just to overcome significant obstacles, but to secure the progress, and bring about the extraordinary results, we celebrate today.

I know I speak for President Obama, for our counterparts at every level of government – and for the American people we’re privileged to serve – when I say: thank you for your service, for your leadership, and for all that you continue to help us achieve.  It has been the honor of my career to count you as colleagues, as partners, and as friends in the work with which we’ve been entrusted.  As you know, I first joined the Justice Department – more years ago than I’d like to admit – as an attorney in this division’s Public Integrity Section.  Although my time at this department will soon be drawing to a close, and my individual path will soon take me in a new direction, I will continue to seek ways to contribute to the work we share – and which has become the cause of my life.  And I will always be tremendously proud of this division, this department, and every one of you.

As we carry this work into the future – and resolve to keep extending the record of achievement we celebrate today – I challenge you to keep asking tough questions and taking on tough assignments.  Keep striving to build on the momentum you’ve established, and the great work that’s underway.  And keep inspiring your coworkers to reach for excellence, to demand the best from one another, and to serve the country we all love with humility, with patriotism, and with fidelity to the law.

Thank you, once again, for all that you do.  And please keep up the great work.

At this time, I’d like to welcome Leslie back to the podium to begin the award presentations.  Once again, congratulations on earning these prestigious awards.

Updated January 8, 2016