John Ashcroft's April 1, Testimony

On April 1, Attorney General John Ashcroft testified before the Commerce, Justice, State and Judiciary Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee in connection with the submission of Bush's propsed budget for the Department of Justice. You can read his testimony here. At times, he deviates from his prepared script.

Ascroft discusses many DOJ projects, listing successes.
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
  • Hundreds of suspected terrorists have been identified and tracked troughout the United States
  • Our human sources of intelligence have doubled
  • Our counter-terrorism investigations have doubled in one year
  • Over 18,000 subpoenas and search warrants have been issued;
  • Over 1,000 applications in 2002 were made to the FISA court targeting terrorists, spies and foreign powers that threaten our security, including 170 emergency FISAs. This is more than 3 times the total number of emergency FISAs obtained in the 23 years prior to September 11th.
  • Ashcroft also provides details of DOJ's Iraqi Task Force:

    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:
  • Around the clock operations at FBI Headquarters and Field Offices since the escalation of hostilities with Iraq;
  • Outreach to Middle Eastern and Islamic communities in the United States;
  • Analysis of prior cases involving Iraq and/or supporters of Iraq to identify potential intelligence targets or persons of interest;
  • Stepped up monitoring of individuals suspected of links to Iraqi hostile forces or other terrorist organizations; and
  • Voluntary interviews of 11,000 U.S.-based Iraqis to obtain counter-terrorism information and intelligence information, as well as to identify any backlash threats to Iraqis in the United States. 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.
  • Ashcroft played a tape of a recorded conversation between charged terrorist-cell-member Jeffrey Battle and an FBI informant on May 8, 2002, in Portland, Oregon. He then says,
    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.
    Here are the details of the budget request:
    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.
    Thanks to criminal defense attorney Todd Bussert for the link.
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