Statement Of Senator Patrick Leahy
On The Justice Enhancement And Domestic Security Act Of 2003
Mr. LEAHY. Mr. President, I am pleased today to join Senator DASCHLE and other Democratic Senators in introducing the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act of 2003. This comprehensive crime bill builds on prior Democratic crime initiatives, including the landmark Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, that worked to bring the crime rate down.
This year marked an unfortunate turn after a decade of remarkable declines in the Nation's crime rate. The decade of progress we made under the leadership of a Democratic President helped revitalize our cities and restore a sense of security for millions of Americans. According to the latest FBI report, however, the number of murders, rapes, robberies, assaults, and property crimes is up across the United States in all regions of the country except the Northeast, the first year-to-year increase since 1991. This upswing has been fueled by the faltering economy and high unemployment rates. The President's ill-conceived tax cut in 2001, along with the new cuts he proposes now, are likely to exacerbate these economic woes by plunging us deeper into deficit spending.
It is troubling that, at this crucial moment, the Bush Administration is proposing to reduce by nearly 80 percent the Community Oriented Policing Services, COPS, program that has helped to put 115,000 new police officers on the beat since 1994. I believe that we must fight to maintain and extend the COPS program, which has proven its value in increasing the security of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods.
The Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act is designed to get our Nation's crime rates moving downward, in the right direction, again. It also aims to bolster our security against terrorists, and to improve the administration of justice throughout the country.
This bill shows the way to making Americans safer. That objective will not be achieved by partisan posturing, ``tough on crime'' rhetoric, and a few executions. It will be achieved by giving law enforcement the tools they need to do their job, focusing on both immediate and long-term threats we face, and protecting the most vulnerable in our society.
Most importantly, we should not divert all our attention to fighting foreign terrorism and foreign wars only to discover that the safety of Americans at home is jeopardized by losing the fight on crime. Unfortunately, the rising crime rate shows the risk of not paying attention to the domestic crime issue. The safety of our schools, homes, streets, neighborhoods and communities cannot become a casualty of the economic downturn and our international engagements.
Among other things, the bill does the following: Provides $12 billion over three years to support public safety officers in their efforts to protect homeland security and prevent and respond to acts of terrorism. Increases border security by authorizing funds for additional INS personnel and technology. Provides statutory authority for the President to use military tribunals to try suspected terrorists in appropriate circumstances. Targets crime against the most vulnerable members of our society: children and senior citizens. Combats the insidious crime of identity theft. Provides enhanced rights and protections for crime victims. Extends the COPS program and authorizes law enforcement improvement and training grants for rural communities. Increases funding to reduce the backlog of untested DNA evidence in the Nation's crime labs. Proposes important reforms to FBI policies on whistleblowers and other issues critical to our security. Cracks down on war criminals from other nations seeking sanctuary in the United States. Protects against the execution of innocent individuals.
In sum, the bill represents an important next step in the continuing effort by Senate Democrats to enhance homeland security and to enact tough yet balanced reforms to our criminal justice system.
I should note that the bill contains no new death penalties and no new or increased mandatory minimum sentences. We can be tough without imposing the death penalty, and we can ensure swift and certain punishment without removing all discretion from the judge at sentencing.
As we provide the necessary tools for Federal law enforcement officials to protect our homeland security, we must remember that State and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency personnel are our full partners in preventing, investigating and responding to criminal and terrorist acts.
As a former State prosecutor, I know that public safety officers are often the first responders to a crime. On September 11, the Nation saw that the first on the scene were the heroic firefighters, police officers and emergency personnel in New York City. These real-life heroes, many of whom gave the ultimate sacrifice, remind us of how important it is to support our State and local public safety partners.
Subtitle A of title I of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act establishes a First Responders Partnership Grant program, which will provide $4 billion in annual grants for each of the next three years to support our State and local law enforcement officers in the war against terrorism. First Responder Grants will be made directly to State and local governments and Indian tribes for equipment, training and facilities to support public safety officers in their efforts to protect homeland security and prevent and respond to acts of terrorism. Grants may be used to pay up to 90 percent of the cost of the equipment, training or facility, and each State will be guaranteed a fair minimum amount. This is essential Federal support that our State and local public safety officers need and deserve.
Our State and local public safety law enforcement partners welcome the challenge to join in our national mission to protect our homeland security. But we cannot ask State and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency personnel to assume these new national responsibilities without also providing new Federal support. The First Responders Partnership Grants will provide the necessary Federal support for our State and public safety officers to serve as full partners in our fight to protect homeland security and respond to acts of terrorism.
Subtitle B of title I provides for additional increases in INS personnel and improvements in INS technology to guard our borders. Just in the last few weeks, we have seen reports suggesting that numerous aliens crossed our Northern border illegally with the intention of planning terrorist act. Through the USA PATRIOT Act and the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act, we have attempted to bolster our borders by creating additional positions. But our work is not done. This legislation would authorize such sums as may be necessary for the INS to hire an additional 250 inspectors and associated support staff, and an additional 250 investigative staff and associated support staff, during each fiscal year through FY2007. It would also authorize $250 million to the INS for the purposes of making improvements in technology for improving border security and facilitating the flow of commerce and persons at ports of entry, including improving and expanding programs for preenrollment and preclearance. Finally, this subtitle requires the Attorney General to report to Congress about the Department's implementation of the border improvements we have already legislated, and about his recommendations for any additional improvements.
MILITARY TRIBUNAL AUTHORIZATION ACT
On November 13, 2001, President Bush signed a military order authorizing the use of military commissions to try suspected terrorists. This order stimulated an important national debate and led to a series of Judiciary Committee hearings with the Attorney General and others to discuss the many legal, constitutional, and policy questions raised by the use of such tribunals. Our hearings, and the continued public discourse, helped to clarify the scope of the President's order and better define the terms of the debate.
Administration officials have taken the position that the President does not need the sanction of Congress to convene military commissions, but I disagree. Military tribunals may be appropriate
under certain circumstances, but only if they are backed by specific congressional authorization. At a minimum, as the distinguished senior senator from Pennsylvania stated on this floor on November 15, ``the executive will be immeasurably strengthened if the Congress backs the President.'' Clearly, our government is at its strongest when the executive and legislative branches of government act in concert.
Subtitle C of title I, the Military Tribunal Authorization Act of 2003 would provide the executive branch with the specific authorization it now lacks to use extraordinary tribunals to try members of the al Qaeda terrorist network and those who cooperated with them. Specifically, this legislation authorizes the use of ``extraordinary tribunals'' for al Qaeda members and for persons aiding and abetting al Qaeda in terrorist activities against the United States who are apprehended in, or fleeing from, Afghanistan. It also authorizes the use of tribunals for those al Qaeda members and abettors who are captured in any other place where there is armed conflict involving the U.S. Armed Forces.
The Military Tribunal Authorization Act defines the jurisdiction and procedure of tribunals in a way that ensures a ``full and fair'' trial for anyone detained. It incorporates basic due process guarantees, including the right to independent counsel. These procedures do not as some have claimed provide greater protections to suspected terrorists than we offer our own soldiers. These are rather, the very basic guarantees provided under various sources of international law. Finally, the bill comes down squarely on the side of transparency in government by providing that tribunal proceedings should be open and public, and include public availability of the transcripts of the trial and the pronouncement of judgment. Passage of authorizing legislation would ensure the constitutionality of military tribunals and protect any convictions they might yield, while at the same time showing the world that we will fight terrorists without sacrificing our principles.
Title I of our bill would also provide a new tool for law enforcement to deal with the problem of serious hoaxes and malicious false reports relating to the use of biological, chemical, nuclear, or other weapons of mass destruction. These so-called ``hoaxes'' inflict both mental and economic damage on victims. They drain away scarce law enforcement resources from the investigation of real terrorist activity. They interrupt vital communication facilities. Finally, they feed a public fear that the vast majority of law abiding Americans are working hard to dispel.
Federal, State, and local law enforcement already have statutes which they have been using aggressively to prosecute those who have taken advantage of these times to perpetrate hoaxes about anthrax contamination. Existing statutes create serious penalties for threats to use biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons, for sending any threatening communication through the mail, or for making a willful false statement of Federal authorities. Indeed, current Federal threat laws do not require that the defendant have either the intent or present ability to carry out a threat. However, while they carry high penalties, including a maximum of life imprisonment, these statutes can sometimes be awkward when applied in the hoax context.
The Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act provides a well-tailored statute that deals specifically with the problem of biological, chemical, nuclear and other mass destruction hoaxes. For instance, it gives prosecutors a means to distinguish between a person who is actually threatening to use anthrax on a victim, and a person who never intends to use it, but wants the victim or the police to think they have done so. Another provision provides for mandatory restitution to any victim of these crimes, including the costs of any and all government response to the hoax. An earlier Administration proposal, offered during the debate over the terrorism bill, would have limited such restitution to the Federal government. As we know all too well from recent events, however, it is State and local authorities, along with private victims, who are often the first responders and primary victims when these incidents occur. Our bill provides a mechanism so that they, too, can be reimbursed for their expenses.
The second title of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act contains a several proposals aimed at protecting the most vulnerable members of our society: children and seniors.
First, part 1 of subtitle A would enhance the operation of the AMBER Alert communications network in order to aid the recovery of abducted children. It is disturbing to see on TV or in the newspapers photo after photo of missing children from every corner of the Nation. As the father of three Children, as well as a grandfather of two, I know that an abducted child is a parent's or grandparent's worst nightmare.
Unfortunately, it appears this nightmare occurs all too often. Indeed, the Justice Department estimates that the number of children taken by strangers annually is between 3,000 and 4,000. These parents and grandparents, as well as the precious children, deserve the assistance of the American people and helping hand of the Congress.
The AMBER Plan was created as a reaction to the kidnapping and brutal murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman of Arlington, Texas, By coordinating their efforts, law enforcement, emergency management and transportation agencies, radio and television stations, and cable systems have worked to develop an innovative early warning system to help find abducted children by broadcasting information including descriptions and pictures of the missing child, the suspected abductor, a suspected vehicle, and any other information available and valuable to identifying the child and suspect to the public as speedily as possible.
The AMBER Alert system's popularity has raced across the United States: since the original AMBER Plan was established in 1996, 55 modified versions have been adopted at local, regional, and statewide levels. Eighteen States have already implemented statewide plans. It is also a proven success: to date, the AMBER Plan has been credited with recovering 30 children.
The National AMBER Alert Network Act of 2003 directs the Attorney General, in cooperation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, to appoint a Justice Department National AMBER Alert Coordinator to oversee the Alert's communication network for abducted children. The AMBER Alert Coordinator will work with States, broadcasters, and law enforcement agencies to set up AMBER plans, serve as a point of contact to supplement existing AMBER plans, and facilitate regional coordination of AMBER alerts. In addition, the AMBER Alert Coordinator will work with the FCC, local broadcasters, and local law enforcement agencies to establish minimum standards for the issuance of AMBER alerts and for the extent of their dissemination. In sum, our bill will help kidnap victims while preserving flexibility for the States in implementing the Alert system.
Because developing and enhancing the AMBER Alert system is a costly endeavor for States to take on alone, our bill establishes two Federal grant programs to share the burden. First, the bill creates a Federal grant program, under the direction of the Secretary of Transportation, for statewide notification and communications systems, including electronic message boards and road signs, along highways for alerts and other information regarding abducted children. Second, the bill establishes a grant program managed by the Attorney General for the support of AMBER Alert communications plans with law enforcement agencies and others in the community.
Similar legislation was proposed in the last Congress by Senators FEINSTEIN and HUTCHISON and approved by both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate by unanimous consent only one week after introduction. When the bill passed, it had garnered 41 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. Unfortunately, despite our great efforts to have the bill passed on its own merits, the House failed to pass it as a stand-alone bill. Instead, it was included in a larger package of bills dubbed the Child Abduction Prevention Act, introduced by Judiciary Committee Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Most of the incorporated bills had passed the House but were stalled in the Senate due to controversial language.
Our Nation's children, parents, and grandparents deserve our help to stop the disturbing trend of child abductions. The AMBER Alert National Network Act ensures that our communications systems help rescue abducted children from kidnappers and return them safely to their families.
Subtitle A of title II also includes the Protecting Our Children Comes First Act of 2003, which would double funding for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, (NCMEC), reauthorize the Center through fiscal year 2006, and increase Federal support to help NCMEC programs find missing children.
As the Nation's top resource center for child protection, the NCMEC spearheads national efforts to locate and recover missing children and raises public awareness about ways to prevent child abduction, molestation, and sexual exploitation, As a national voice and advocate for those too young to vote or speak up for their own rights, the NCMEC works to make our children safer. The Center operates under a Congressional mandate and works in cooperation with the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention in coordinating the efforts of law enforcement officers, social service agencies, elected officials, judges, prosecutors, educators, and the public and private sectors to break the cycle of violence that historically has perpetuated such needless crimes against children.
NCMEC professionals have disturbingly busy jobs, they have worked on more than 90,000 cases of missing and exploited children since its 1984 founding, helping to recover more than 66,000 children. The Center raised its recovery rate from 60 percent in the 1980s to 94 percent today. It set up a nationwide, toll free, 24-hour telephone hotline to take reports about missing children and clues that might lead to their recovery. It also manages a national Child Pornography Tipline to handle calls from individuals reporting the sexual exploitation of children through the production and distribution of pornography and a CyberTipline to process online leads from individuals reporting the sexual exploitation of children. It has taken the lead in circulating millions of photographs of missing children, and serves as a vital resource for the 17,000 law enforcement agencies located throughout the United States.
Today, the NCMEC is truly a national organization, with its headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia and branch offices in five other locations throughout the country to provide hands-on assistance to families of missing children and conduct an array of prevention and awareness programs. It has also grown into an international organization, establishing the International Division of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works to fulfill the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The International Division provides assistance to parents, law enforcement, attorneys, nonprofit organizations, and other concerned individuals who are seeking assistance in preventing or resolving international child abductions.
The NCMEC manages to do all of this good work with only a $10 million annual grant, which expired at the end of fiscal year 2002. We should act now both to extend its authorization and increase the center's funding to $20 million each year through fiscal year 2006 so that it can continue to help keep children safe and families intact around the nation. There is so much more to be done to ensure the safety of our children, and this provision will help the Center in its efforts to prevent crimes that are committed against them.
The Protecting Our Children Comes First Act also increases Federal support of NCMEC programs to find missing children by allowing the U.S. Secret Service to provide forensic and investigative support to the NCMEC. In addition, it facilitates information sharing by allowing Federal authorities to share the facts or circumstances of sexual exploitation crimes against children with State authorities without a court order, and by allowing the NCMEC to make reports directly to State and local law enforcement officials instead of only through Federal agencies.
I applaud the ongoing work of the NCMEC and hope both the Senate and the House of Representatives will support this effort to provide more Federal support for the Center to continue to find missing children and protect exploited children across the country.
Finally, subtitle A of title II addresses the problems caused by housing juveniles who are prosecuted in the criminal justice system in adult correctional facilities. It assists the States in providing safe conditions for their confinement and appropriate access to educational, vocational, and health programs. Improving conditions for juveniles today will improve the public safety in the future, as juveniles who are not exposed to adult inmates have a lower likelihood of committing future crimes.
As a Nation, we increasingly rely on adult facilities to house juveniles. Nearly all of our States house juveniles in adult jails and prisons, and only half maintain designated youthful offender housing units. I believe that there is a will in the States to improve conditions for these juveniles, but resources are often lacking. The Federal Government can play a useful role by providing funding to States that want to take account of the differences between juveniles and adults.
Although many juvenile offenders serving time in adult prisons have committed extraordinarily serious offenses, others are there because of relatively minor crimes and will be released at a young age. Certainly, many of these juveniles can be convinced not to commit further crimes. The social and moral cost of not making that attempt is simply incalculable.
Many scholars have questioned whether housing juvenile offenders with adult inmates serves our long-term interest in public safety. Multiple studies have shown that youth transferred to the adult system recidivate at higher rates and with more serious offenses than youth who have committed similar offenses but are retained in the juvenile justice system. We must ensure that juveniles are treated humanely in the criminal justice system to reduce the risks that upon release they will commit additional and more serious crimes. One of the ways we can do that is by helping States improve confinement conditions.
Our bill creates a new incentive grant program for State and local governments and Indian tribes. These grants can be used for the following purposes related to juveniles under the jurisdiction of an adult criminal court: 1. alter existing correctional facilities, or develop separate facilities, to provide segregated facilities for them; 2. provide orientation and ongoing training for correctional staff supervising them; 3. provide monitors who will report on their treatment; and 4. provide them with access to educational programs, vocational training, mental and physical health assessment and treatment, and drug treatment. Grants can also be used to seek alternatives to housing juveniles with adult inmates, including the expansion of juvenile facilities.
It is important to note that States that choose not to house juveniles who are convicted as adults with adult inmates are still eligible for grants under this bill. For example, they could use the money to train staff, or to provide education or other program for juveniles, or to improve juvenile facilities.
In addition to these grants, part 5 of subtitle II reauthorizes the Family Unity Demonstration Project, which provides funding for projects allowing eligible prisoners who are parents to live in structured, community-based centers with their young children. A study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about two-third of incarcerated women were parents of children under 18 years old. According to the White House, on any given day, America is home to 1.5 million children of prisoners. And according to Prison Fellowship Industries, more than half of the juveniles in custody in the United States had an immediate family member behind bars. This is a serious problem that reauthorizing the Family Unity Demonstration Project will help to address.
The remainder of title II includes a number of provisions designed to improve the safety and security of older Americans.
During the 1990s, while overall crime rates dropped throughout the nation the rate of crime against seniors remained constant. In addition to the increased vulnerability of some seniors to violent crime, older Americans are increasingly targeted by swindlers looking to take advantage of them through telemarketing schemes, pension fraud, and health care fraud. We must strengthen the hand of law enforcement to combat those criminals who plunder the savings that older Americans have worked their lifetime to earn. Subtitle B of title II of our bill, the Seniors Safety Act of 2003, tries to do exactly that, through a comprehensive package of proposals to establish new protections and increase penalties for a wide variety of crimes against seniors.
This legislation addresses the most prevalent crimes perpetrated against seniors, containing proposals to reduce health care fraud and abuse, combat nursing home fraud and abuse, prevent telemarketing fraud, and safeguard pension and employee benefit plans from fraud, bribery, and graft. In addition, this legislation would help seniors obtain restitution if their pension plans are defrauded.
Many of the proposals in this legislation are just common sense. For example, we would authorize the Attorney General to block telephone service to people using it to commit telemarketing fraud. We would also establish a ``Better Business Bureau'' style clearinghouse at the Federal Trade Commission, so that senior citizens and their families could call and find out whether a telemarketer who was bothering them had a criminal record or had received past complaints.
We would make it a new criminal offense to engage in multiple willful violations of the regulations or laws that protect nursing home residents. We would also protect employees at nursing homes who blow the whistle on the mistreatment of residents by giving them the power to bring a lawsuit for damages if they get fired as a result. And we would tell the Sentencing Commission that if you commit a crime against someone who is old and vulnerable, you should get a longer sentence.
We want to fight health care fraud and pension fraud because these are benefits that older Americans have earned and that they count on everyday. We must do more to prevent crooks from robbing seniors of their security. That is why we want to create new criminal penalties for pension fraud and give law enforcement more tools to root out and stop health care fraud.
The third title of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act contains important provisions to prevent and punish identify theft, a crime that victimizes thousands of Americans every year. Once a skilled scam artist gets his hands on a consumer's Social Security or bank account number, he can wreak unimaginable havoc on a family's finances.
With society conducting more and more of its business electronically, the incidence of identity theft in America is on the rise. In 2001, the Federal Trade Commission consumer hotline received 86,000 complaints of identity theft. Through the first six months of 2002, it received 70,000 such complaints. These complaints are mainly from people who have been hurt by identify theft, but thousands of others come from consumers worried about becoming an identity thief's next victim.
Our bill would help identity theft victims restore their credit ratings and reclaim their good names. It gives victims the tools they need, such as the right to obtain relevant business records and the ability to have fraudulent charges blocked from reporting in their consumer credit reports. It also includes provisions designed to thwart identity theft, for example by requiring credit card companies to notify consumers of any change of address request on an existing credit account, by ensuring that credit card receipts no longer bear the expiration date or more than the last five digits of the customer's credit card number, and by entitling every citizen to a free credit report once per year upon request. Finally, it includes important provisions to prevent Social Security numbers from being sold, or published without express consent.
Title III also represents the next step in Senate Democrats' continuing efforts to afford dignity and recognition to victims of crime. It provides for comprehensive reform of the Federal law to establish enhanced rights and protections for victims of Federal crime. Among other things, it provides crime victims the right to consult with the prosecution prior to detention hearings and the entry of plea agreements, and generally requires the courts to give greater consideration to the views and interests of the victim at all stages of the criminal justice process. Responding to concerns raised by victims of the Oklahoma City bombing, the bill would provide standing for the prosecutor and the victim to assert the right of the victim to attend and observe the trial.
Assuring that victims are provided their statutorily guaranteed rights is a critical concern for all those involved in the administration of justice. That is why the bill establishes an administrative authority in the Department of Justice to receive and investigate victims' claims of unlawful or inappropriate action on the part of criminal justice and victims' service providers. Department of Justice employees who fail to comply with the law pertaining to the treatment of crime victims could face disciplinary sanctions, including suspension or termination of employment.
In addition to these improvements to the Federal system, the bill proposes several programs to help States provide better assistance for victims of State crimes. These programs would improve compliance with State victim's rights laws, promote the development of state-of-the-art notification systems to keep victims informed of case developments and important dates on a timely and efficient basis, and encourage further experimentation with the community-based restorative justice model in the juvenile court setting. The bill also provides assistance for shelters and transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.
Of particular significance, title III would eliminate the cap on distributions from the Crime Victims Fund, which has prevented millions of dollars in Fund deposits from reaching victims and supporting essential services. With violent crime on the increase and State governments struggling to overcome growing budget deficits, crime victim compensation and assistance programs are facing dire threats to their fiscal stability. We should not be imposing artificial caps on spending from the Crime Victims Fund while substantial needs remain unmet. Our bill proposes replacing the cap with a self-regulating formula, which would ensure stability and protection of Fund assets, while allowing more money to go out to the States for victim compensation and assistance.
While we have greatly improved our crime victims programs and made advances in recognizing crime victims rights, we still have more to do. The Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act would help make victims' rights a reality.
Title IV of the bill includes proposals for supporting Federal, State and local law enforcement and promoting the effective administration of justice.
An important element of this effort is the COPS program. As noted earlier, the Bush Administration has proposed to cut the COPS program by nearly 80 percent, despite the success of this program in putting 115,000 new police officers on the beat since 1994. Title IV extends the COPS program through fiscal year 2008, authorizing funding to deploy up to 50,000 additional police officers, 10,000 additional prosecutors, and 10,000 defense attorneys for indigents. It also authorizes $15 million per year for five years to help rural communities retain officers hired through the COPS program for an additional year.
In addition, title IV includes the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act, which would effectively erase any distinction between traumatic and occupational injuries when surviving families apply to the U.S. Department of Justice Public Safety Officers Benefits, PSOB, Program. The PSOB fund currently pays just over $260,000 to families of firefighters, police officers and emergency medical technicians who die in the line of duty. The survivors of emergency responders who die of heart attacks while performing in the line of duty, however, are ineligible to collect benefits. The Hometown Heroes bill would fix the loophole in the PSOB Program to ensure that the survivors of public safety officers who die of heart attacks or strokes in the line of duty or within 24 hours of a triggering effect while on duty, regardless of whether a traumatic injury is present at the time of the heart attack or stroke, are eligible to receive financial assistance.
The families of these brave public servants deserve to participate in the PSOB Program if their loved ones die of a heart attack or other cardiac-related ailments while selflessly protecting us from
harm. It is time for Congress to show its support and appreciation for these extraordinarily brave and heroic public safety officers by passing the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act.
Title IV would also correct a disparity in the law that denies Federal prosecutors the same retirement benefits as other Federal law enforcement officers. These lawyers, who are more and more often on the front lines in the war on terrorism, deserve the same benefits as the other men and women with whom they work.
Also included in title IV of the bill is the FBI Reform Act of 2003, which stems from the lessons learned during a series of Judiciary Committee hearings on oversight of the FBI that I chaired beginning in June 2001. Even more recently, the important changes which are being made under the FBI's new leadership after the September 11 attacks and the new powers granted the FBI by the USA PATRIOT Act have resulted in FBI reform becoming a pressing matter of national importance.
Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the anthrax attacks last fall, we have relied on the FBI to detect and prevent acts of catastrophic terrorism that endanger the lives of the American people and the institutions of our country. The men and women of the FBI are performing this task with great professionalism at home and abroad. I think that we have all felt safer as a result of the full mobilization of the FBI's dedicated Special Agents, its expert support personnel, and its exceptional technical capabilities. We owe the men and women of the FBI our thanks.
For decades the FBI has been outstanding law enforcement agency and a vital member of the United States intelligence community. As our hearings and recent events have shown, however, there is room for improvement at the FBI. We must face the mistakes of the past, and make the changes needed to ensure that they are not repeated. In meeting the international terrorist challenge, the Congress has an opportunity and obligation to strengthen the institutional fiber of the FBI based on lessons learned from recent problems the Bureau has experienced.
The view is not mine alone. When Director Bob Mueller testified at his confirmation hearings in July 2001, he forthrightly acknowledged ``that the Bureau's remarkable legacy of service and accomplishment has been tarnished by some serious and highly publicized problems in recent years. Waco, Ruby Ridge, the FBI lab, Wen Ho Lee, Robert Hanssen and the McVeigh documents--these familiar names and events remind us all that the FBI is far from perfect and that the next director faces significant management and administrative challenges.'' Since then, the Judiciary Committee has forged a constructive partnership with Director Mueller to get the FBI back on track.
Congress sometimes has followed a hands-off approach about the FBI. But with the FBI's new increased power, with our increased reliance on them to stop terrorism, and with the increased funding requested in the President's budget will come increased scrutiny. Until the Bureau's problems are resolved and new challenges overcome, we have to take a hands-on approach. Indeed our hearing and other oversight activities have highlighted tangible steps the Congress should take in an FBI Reform bill as part of this hands-on approach. Among other things, these hearings demonstrated the need to extend whistleblower protection, end the double standard for discipline of senior FBI executives, and enhance the FBI's internal security program to protect against espionage as occurred in the Hanssen case.
When Director Mueller announced the first stage of his FBI reorganization in December 2001, he stressed the importance of taking a comprehensive look at the FBI's missions for the future, and Deputy Attorney General Thompson's office has told us that the Attorney General's management review of the FBI is considering this matter. Director Mueller has stated that the second phase of FBI reorganizations will be part of a ``comprehensive plan to address not only the new challenges of terrorism, but to modernize and streamline the Bureau's more traditional functions.'' Thus, through our hearings, our oversight efforts, and the statements and efforts of the new management team at the FBI, a list of challenges facing the FBI has been developed.
Our bill addresses each of these challenges. It strengthens whistleblower protection for FBI employees and protects them from retaliation for reporting wrongdoing. It addresses the issue of a double standard for discipline of senior executives by eliminating the disparity in authorized punishments between Senior Executive Service members and other federal employees. It establishes an FBI Counterintelligence Polygraph Program for screening personnel in exceptionally sensitive positions with specific safeguards, and an FBI Career Security Program, which would bring the FBI into line with other U.S. intelligence agencies that have strong career security professional cadres whose skills and leadership are dedicated to the protection of agency information, personnel, and facilities. It also requires a set of reports that would enable Congress to engage the Executive branch in a constructive dialogue building a more effective FBI for the future.
The FBI Reform Act of 2003 is designed to strengthen the FBI as an institution that has a unique role as both a law enforcement agency and a member of the intelligence community. As the Judiciary Committee continues its oversight work and more is learned about recent FBI performance, additional legislation may prove necessary. Especially important will be the lessons from the attacks of September 11, 2001, the anthrax attacks, and implementation of the USA PATRIOT Act and other counterterrorism measures. Strengthening the FBI cannot be accomplished overnight, but with this legislation, we take an important step into the future.
In addition to protecting, FBI whistleblowers, title IV of this bill provides new and important protections for other whistleblowers who provide information to Congress.
The 107th Congress was one of rejuvenated bipartisan oversight. On the Judiciary Committee we convened the first series of comprehensive bipartisan FBI oversight hearings in decades after I assumed the Chairmanship. The Joint Intelligence Committee conducted bipartisan hearings to ascertain what shortcomings on the part of our intelligence community need to be corrected so as not the allow the 9-11 terrorist attacks to recur. The Senate Banking Committee conducted extensive oversight of the SEC and its relationship with the accounting industry, to ascertain whether a new regulatory scheme was required. Both the Senate and House Judiciary Committees are still attempting to ascertain how the new powers we provided in the USA PATRIOT Act are being used. These are only a few examples.
A vital part of the increased oversight was the courage of the whistleblowers who provided information. Their revelations have led to important reforms. The Enron scandal and the subsequent hearing led to the most extensive corporate reform legislation in decades, including the criminal provisions and the first ever corporate whistleblower protections, which I authored. The testimony of the rank and file FBI agents that we heard on the Judiciary Committee helped us to craft bipartisan FBI reform legislation. The same day as Coleen Rowley's nationally televised testimony before the Judiciary Committee, President Bush not only reversed his previous opposition to establishing a new cabinet level Department of Homeland Security, but gave a national address calling for the largest government reorganization in 50 years. In the last year we have learned once again that the public as a whole can benefit from a lone voice. Indeed, Time Magazine recognized the courage of these whistleblowers by naming them the ``People of the Year'' for 2002.
Unfortunately, the people who very rarely benefit from these revelations are the whistleblowers themselves. We have heard testimony in oversight hearings on the Judiciary Committee that there is quite often retaliation against those who raise public awareness about problems within large organizations even to Congress. Sometimes the retaliation is overt, sometimes it is more subtle and invidious, but it is almost always there. The law needs to protect the people who risk so much to protect us and create a culture that encourages employees to report waste, fraud, and mismanagement.
For those who provide information to Congress, that protection is a hollow promise. On one hand, the law is very clear that it is illegal to interfere with or deny, ``the right of employees, individually or collectively, to petition Congress or a Member of Congress, or to furnish information to either House of Congress, or to a committee or Member thereof......'' Amazingly, however, this simple provision is a right without a remedy. Employees who are retaliated against for providing information to Congress cannot pursue any avenue of redress to protect their statutory rights. The only exception to this applies to employees of publicly traded companies, who are now covered by the whistleblower provision included in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act that we passed last year. Thus, under current law, government whistleblowers reporting to Congress have less protection than private industry whistleblowers.
Title IV would correct this anomaly by providing government employees that come to Congress with the right to bring an action in court when they suffer the type of retaliation already prohibited under the law. Thus, it does not create new statutory rights, but merely provides a statutory remedy for existing law. That way, we can promise future whistleblowers who come before Congress that their rights to access the legislative branch is not an illusion. We can also assure the public at large that our efforts at Congressional oversight and improving the functions of government will be effective. This legislation is strongly supported by leading whistleblower groups, including the National Whistleblower Center and the Government Accountability Project.
Title IV of the bill also aims to improve the effective administration of justice by offering a two-pronged attack on sexual assault crime in America. First, it adds more Federal resources for States and for the first time, makes those resources directly available to local governments as well, so that they may eliminate the backlog of untested DNA samples, and in particular, the troubling backlog of untested rape kits. Second, because tapping the potential of DNA technology requires more than eliminating existing backlogs, the bill provides increased Federal support for sexual assault examiner programs, DNA training of law enforcement personnel and prosecutors, and updating the national DNA database. To ensure that these grants are effective, the bill heightens the standards for DNA collection and maintenance, and requires the Department of Justice to promulgate national privacy guidelines. The bill also authorizes the issuance of John Doe DNA indictments for Federal sexual assault crimes, which toll the applicable statute of limitations and permit prosecution whenever a DNA match is made.
Congress began to attack the problem of the DNA backlog when it passed the DNA Analysis Backlog Elimination Act of 2000. That legislation authorized $170 million over four years for grants to States to increase the capacity of their forensic labs and to carry out DNA testing of backlogged evidence. Despite the new law and some Federal funding, the persistent backlogs nationwide make it plain that more must be done to help the States. Our bill takes the next step and provides more comprehensive assistance so that the criminal justice system can harness the full power of DNA.
A significant problem that arose during Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Clinton was the loss of confidentiality that had previously attached to the important work of the U.S. Secret Service. The Department of Justice and Treasury and even a former Republican President advise that the safety of future Presidents may be jeopardized by forcing U.S. Secret Service agents to breach the confidentiality they need to do their job by testifying before a grand jury. I trust the Secret Service on this issue; they are the experts with the mission of protecting the lives of the President and other high-level elected official and visiting dignitaries. I also have confidence in the judgment of former President Bush, who has written, ``I feel very strongly that [Secret Service] agents should not be made to appear in court to discuss that which they might or might not have seen or heard.''
Section 4502 of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act provides a reasonable and limited protective function privilege so future Secret Service agents are able to maintain the confidentiality they say they need to protect the lives of the President, Vice President and visiting heads of state.
Title V of this bill would create new treatment and prevention programs to reduce drug abuse, and reauthorize existing successful ones. Treatment and prevention efforts are often overshadowed by law enforcement needs. Indeed, a recent study by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse showed that of every dollar States spent on substance abuse and addiction, only four cents went to prevention and treatment. The States and the Federal government have undeniably important law enforcement obligations, but we must do more to balance those obligations with farsighted efforts to prevent drug crimes from happening in the first place.
Heroin is an increasing problem in my State. In other States, methamphetamines or other drugs present a growing challenge. This legislation will help States address their most pressing drug problems, and places a particular emphasis on States that may not have been able to address their treatment and prevention needs in the past. Indeed, among other provisions, the bill offers funding for rural States like Vermont to establish or enhance treatment centers. It instructs the Director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment to make grants to public and nonprofit private entities that provide treatment and are approved by State experts. This will allow the Vermont agencies looking to provide heroin treatment--or to prevent heroin abuse in the first place, to acquire Federal funding to help in their efforts.
The bill also authorizes funding for residential treatment centers that treat mothers who are addicted to heroin, methamphetamine, or other drugs. This will help mothers, and the children who depend on them to rebuild their lives, it will keep families together. And I hope it will help avoid further stories like one that appeared in the Burlington Free Press in February 2001, in which a young mother told a reporter how heroin ``made it easier for [her] to take care of [her] kids.''
The bill also would fund drug treatment programs for juveniles, who can see their lives quickly deteriorate under the influence of drugs. This is why I have worked to provide Vermont with funding to establish a long-term residential treatment facility for adolescents. I hope to continue that effort through this bill, in the hope that we may be able to prevent future tragedies.
We also would reauthorize substance abuse treatment in Federal prisons. It is critical that our prisons be drug-free, both because lawbreaking within our correctional system is a national embarrassment, and because prisoners who are released while still addicted to drugs are far more likely to commit future crimes than prisoners who are released sober. At the same time we are extending the `carrot' of treatment opportunities, we also authorize grants to States and localities for programs supporting comprehensive drug testing of criminal justice populations, and to establish appropriate interventions to illegal drug use for offender populations.
Among other additional provisions, we would extend the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, and authorize grants to establish methamphetamine prevention and treatment pilot programs in rural areas.
I am particularly proud of title VI of the bill--the Innocence Protection Act, IPA, of 2003. For nearly three years, I have been working hard with members on both sides of the aisle, and in both houses of Congress, to address the horrendous problem of innocent people being condemned to death. The IPA represents the fruits of those efforts. This landmark legislation proposes a number of basic, commonsense reforms to our criminal justice system, aimed at reducing the risk that innocent people will be put to death.
We have come many miles since I first introduced the IPA in February 2000, along with four Democratic co-sponsors. There is now a broad consensus across the country--among Democrats and Republicans, supporters and opponents of the death penalty, liberals and conservatives, that our death penalty machinery is broken. We know that the nightmare of innocent people on death row is not just a dream, but a frequently recurring reality. Since the early 1970s, more than 100 people who were sentenced to death have been released, not because of technicalities, but because they were innocent. Goodness only knows how many were not so lucky.
These are not just numbers; these are real people whose lives were ruined. Anthony Porter came within two days of execution in 1998; he was exonerated and released from prison only because a class of journalism students investigated his case and identified the real killer. Ray Krone spent ten years in prison, including three on death row; he was released last year after DNA testing exculpated him and pointed to another man as the real killer. These are just two of the many tragedies we learn of every year.
Today, Federal judges are voicing concern about the death penalty. Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has warned that ``the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed.'' Justice Ginsberg has supported a state moratorium on the death penalty. Another respected jurist, Sixth Circuit Judge Gilbert Merritt, has referred to the capital punishment system as ``broken.''
We can all agree that there is a grave problem. The good news is, there is also a broad consensus on one important step we must take, we can pass the Innocence Protection Act.
At the close of the 107th Congress, the IPA was cosponsored by a substantial bipartisan majority of the House and by 32 Senators from both sides of the aisle. In addition, a version of the bill had been reported by a bipartisan majority of the Senate Judiciary Committee. It is that version of the bill that we introduce today as title VI of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act.
What would the IPA do? In short, it proposes two minimum steps that we need to take, not to make the system perfect, but simply to reduce what is currently an unacceptably high risk of error. First, we need to make good on the promise of modern technology in the form of DNA testing. Second, we need to make good on the constitutional promise of competent counsel.
DNA testing comes first because it is proven and effective. We all know that DNA testing is an extraordinary tool for uncovering the truth, whatever the truth may be. It is the fingerprint of the 21st Century. Prosecutors across the country rightly use it to prove guilt. By the same token, it should also be used to do what it is equally scientifically reliable to do, prove innocence.
Where there is DNA evidence, it can show us conclusively, even years after a conviction, where mistakes have been made. And there is no good reason not to use it.
Allowing testing does not deprive the state of its ability to present its case, and under a reasonable scheme for the preservation and testing of DNA evidence, the practical costs, burdens and delays involved are relatively small.
The Innocence Protection Act would therefore provide improved access to DNA testing for people who claim that they have been wrongfully convicted. It would also prevent the premature destruction of biological evidence that could hold the key to clearing an innocent person and, as we recently saw in Ray Krone's case, identifying the real culprit.
But DNA testing addresses only the tip of the iceberg of the problem of wrongful convictions. In most cases, there is no DNA evidence to be tested, just as in most cases, there are no fingerprints. In the vast majority of death row exonerations, no DNA testing has or could have been involved.
So the broad and growing consensus on death penalty reform has another top priority. All the statistics and evidence show that the single most frequent cause of wrongful convictions is inadequate defense representation at trial. By far the most important reform we can undertake is to ensure minimum standards of competency and funding for capital defense.
Under the IPA, States may choose to work with the federal government to improve the systems by which they appoint and compensate lawyers in death cases. These States would receive an infusion of new Federal grant money, but they would also open themselves up to a set of controls that are designed to ensure that their systems truly meet basic standards. In essence, the bill offers the States extra money for quality and accountability.
A State may also decline to participate in the new grant program, In that case, the money that would otherwise be available to the state would be used to fund one or more organizations that provide capital representation in that state. One way or another, the bill would improve the quality of appointed counsel in capital cases.
This is a reform that does not in any way hinder good, effective law enforcement. More money is good for the States. More openness and accountability is good for everyone. And better lawyering makes the trial process far less prone to error.
We can never guarantee that no innocent person will be convicted. But surely when people in this country are put on trial for their lives, they should be defended by lawyers who meet reasonable standards of competence and who have sufficient funds to investigate the facts and prepare thoroughly for trial. That bare minimum is all that the counsel provisions in the IPA seek to achieve.
The Innocence Protection Act addresses grave and urgent problems with moderate, fine-tuned practical solutions. It has passed out of Committee in the Senate and is supported by a majority of the House. Justice demands that we pass it before more lives are ruined.
Title VII of the bill includes various proposals for strengthening the Federal criminal laws, including, in subtitle A, the Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act of 2003. This bill would close loopholes in our immigration laws that have allowed war criminals and human rights abusers to enter and remain in this country. I am appalled that this country has become a safe haven for those who exercised power in foreign countries to terrorize, rape, murder and torture innocent civilians. A recent report by Amnesty International claims that nearly 150 alleged human rights abusers have been identified living here, and warns that this number may be as high as 1,000.
The problem of human rights abusers seeking and obtaining refuge in this country is real, and requires an effective response with the legal and enforcement changes proposed in this legislation. We have unwittingly sheltered the oppressors along with the oppressed for too long. We should not let this situation continue. We need to focus the attention of our law enforcement investigators to prosecute and deport those who have committed atrocities abroad and who now enjoy safe harbor in the United States.
The Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act would provide a stronger bar to human rights abusers who seek to exploit loopholes in current law. The Immigration and Nationality Act currently provides that 1. Participants in Nazi persecutions during the time period from March 23, 1933 to May 8, 1945, 2. aliens who engaged in genocide, and 3. aliens who committed particularly severe violations of religious freedom, are inadmissible to the United States and deportable. This legislation would expand the grounds for inadmissibility and deportation to 1. Add new bars for aliens who have engaged in acts, outside the United States, of ``torture'' and ``extrajudicial killing'' and 2. remove limitations on the current bases for ``genocide'' and ``particularly severe violations of religious freedom.''
The bill would not only add the new grounds for inadmissibility and deportation, it would expand two of the current grounds. First, the current bar to aliens who have ``engaged in genocide'' defines that term by reference to the ``genocide'' definition in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. For clarity and consistency, the bill would substitute instead the definition in the Federal criminal code, which was adopted pursuant to the U.S. obligations under the Genocide Convention. The bill would also broaden the reach of the provision to apply not only to those who ``engaged in genocide,'' as in current law, but also to cover any alien who has ordered, incited, assisted or otherwise participated in genocide. This broader scope will ensure that the genocide provision addresses a more appropriate range of levels of complicity.
Second, the current bar to aliens who have committed ``particularly severe violations of religious freedom,'' as defined in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998, limits its application to foreign government officials who engaged in such conduct within the last 24 months. Our bill would delete reference to prohibited conduct occurring within a 24-month period since this limitation is not consistent with the strong stance of the United States to promote religious freedom throughout the world.
Changing the law to address the problem of human rights abusers seeking entry and remaining in the United States is only part of the solution. We also need effective enforcement, which I believe we can obtain by updating the mission of the Justice Department's Office of Special Investigations, or OSI. Our county has long provided the template and moral leadership for dealing with Nazi war criminals. The OSI, which was created to hunt down, prosecute, and remove Nazi war criminals who had slipped into the United States among their victims under the Displaced Persons Act, is an example of effective enforcement. Since the OSI's inception in 1979, over 60 Nazi persecutors have been stripped of U.S. citizenship, almost 50 have been removed from the United States, and more than 150 have been denied entry.
The OSI was created by the power of Attorney General Civiletti almost 35 years after the end of World War II and it is only authorized to track Nazi war criminals. As any prosecutor, or, in my case, former prosecutor, knows instinctively, delays make documentary and testimonial evidence more difficult to obtain. Stale cases are the hardest to make. We should not repeat the mistake of waiting decades before tracking down war criminals and human rights abusers who have settled in this country. War criminals should find no sanctuary in loopholes in our current immigration policies and enforcement. No war criminal should ever come to believe that he is going to find safe harbor in the United States.
The Anti-Atrocity Alien Deportation Act would for the first time provide statutory authorization for the OSI within the Department of Justice, with authority to denaturalize any alien who has participated in Nazi persecution, torture, extrajudicial killing or genocide abroad. The bill would also expand the OSI's jurisdiction to deal with any alien who participated in torture, extrajudicial killing and genocide abroad, not just Nazis. Unquestionably, the need to bring Nazi war criminals to justice remains a matter of great importance. Funds would not be diverted from the OSI's current mission. Additional resources are authorized in the bill for OSI's expanded duties.
Title VII of the Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act also includes a proposal to increase the maximum penalties for violations of three existing statutes that protect the cultural and archaeological history of the American people, particularly Native Americans. The United States Sentencing Commission recommended the statutory changes contained in this proposal, which would complement the Commission's strengthening of Federal sentencing guidelines to ensure more stringent penalties for criminals who steal from our public lands. Passage of this legislation would demonstrate Congress' commitment to preserving our nation's history and our cultural heritage.
The Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act is a comprehensive and realistic set of proposals for assisting local enforcement, preventing crime, protecting our children and senior citizens, and assisting the victims of crime. I look forward to working on a bipartisan basis for passage of as much of this bill as possible during the 108th Congress.