Search Form
First, enter a politician or zip code
Now, choose a category

Public Statements

Hearing Of The Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee Of The Senate Appropriations Committee - Review Of Funding And Oversight Of The Department Of Justice


Location: Washington, DC

Witness: Attorney General Eric Holder

Chaired By: Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md)

Copyright ©2009 by Federal News Service, Inc., Ste. 500, 1000 Vermont Ave, Washington, DC 20005 USA. Federal News Service is a private firm not affiliated with the federal government. No portion of this transcript may be copied, sold or retransmitted without the written authority of Federal News Service, Inc. Copyright is not claimed as to any part of the original work prepared by a United States government officer or employee as a part of that person's official duties. For information on subscribing to the FNS Internet Service at, please email Carina Nyberg at or call 1-202-216-2706.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Good morning. The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science of the Senate Appropriations Committee will come to order.

The subcommittee this morning wants to give a very warm and cordial welcome to our attorney general, Eric Holder. This is his first appearance before the Senate Appropriations Committee, and we welcome him.

We want to hear the president's priorities, his agenda for essentially rebuilding and recapitalizing the Department of Justice. The American people rely on the Department of Justice, and we are passionate about restoring it to what its original mission is. We know that you bring a great deal of experience as a career prosecutor, as a judge, and someone who's been dedicated to protecting the American people from all kinds of crime.

As the chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science department, we want to look to you to be able to carry out the mandate; first of all, one, restoring the honor and integrity of the Justice Department. There's too many people who work at the Justice Department every day; not only our gifted and talented legal teams, but all those who support them, and then those who work in the field of law enforcement, as well as those who administer those grant programs designed to deal with prevention and intervention.

They need to know that the Department of Justice is free from politics and ideology and whether it has been -- what has happened at the U.S. attorney's office, whether it's been the politics involved in giving out the juvenile justice grants, and, of course, the issues related to torture.

We're going to hear from you how you need to restore that, and then what are the resources you need to be able to begin enforcing those laws that need to be enforced, and as well as those that might have been overlooked as we fought other wars, particularly in the area of civil rights.

We're also concerned that, in addition to fighting the global war against terrorism, we need to continue to protect our neighborhoods. We'll be reviewing the budget for cops on the beat; the BURN grants, to make sure that they have the resources that they need to fight local crime; and also, again, those very important grant programs that make such a difference in the lives of people in the local department.

As you know, people interact with Justice at many different levels. There are also new threats, particularly in the area of mortgage fraud, predatory lending, identity theft, cyber crime, all kinds of new emergent things that -- when you worked in government more than a decade ago, the Internet seemed nothing more than an expensive toy for a few, and now it's an essential tool for law enforcement. But we now find that criminals are as good at using the Net as we are, and we don't want them to escape the net of justice.

There's also the issue of terrorism. During the last decade, with America under attack and our desire to protect the homeland, our law enforcement agencies have had to assume a new role, and particularly the FBI. We'll need to hear about that. And we will also need to hear about the president's plan for the closing of Guantanamo Bay.

I support the president's agenda for closing Guantanamo Bay. And at the same time, as a United States senator, I want to make sure that we protect our neighborhoods and communities as we look at what is the honorable and right way to deal with the prisoners that are there.

We need to enforce the law. We need to respect international law. But we have to make sure that streets and neighborhoods don't think that they're going to be the repository of Guantanamo prisoners. So we're going to be asking questions about the president's policies.

We'd like to hear from you today as you present your budget. We know that the president has given us kind of the top line on the appropriation, so we don't have the kinds of details we normally would have for this hearing. But we're pleased at the direction that he's going in. We're also particularly pleased that he understands the role of our federal law enforcement; not only our FBI, but also the Marshals Service, DEA and ATF. We note the president has increased funding in those; the Marshals Service by increase of $198 million, DEA by close to $100 million, et cetera.

For the cops on the beat, which goes to the neighborhood things, we note that the president has increased this by $200 million. But we're deeply troubled that the Office of Justice Programs had been reduced by $594 million just at the time when local communities are facing great stress, particularly those marvelous prevention programs. So we will go into this in more detail. But I'll save more focused comments for my questions.

I'd like to turn now to Senator Shelby for any comments that he might have.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.

Attorney General Holder, welcome to the committee, and thank you for joining us to discuss the Department of Justice and its 2010 budget request.

First, I want to recognize and extend my appreciation and support to the men and women of the Department of Justice who protect the country from crime and terrorism. We owe them all a debt of gratitude.

The fiscal year 2010 budget request for the Department of Justice is $24 billion. This is a $950 billion (sic/means million) or 4 percent increase over the '09 request. In keeping pace with the last administration, the Department continues to be, as some people think, satisfied playing second fiddle to the Department of Homeland Security -- I hope that's not true -- whether it's drugs, gun tracing, the explosive jurisdiction or the border war.

During the last administration, the Department of Homeland Security's request grew 7 (percent) to 10 percent each year, while the Justice Department request decreased or remained flat until this year. While the overall numbers for the department appear to have improved, there's a disturbing theme throughout the request that advocates hugs for criminals, some people think, instead of catching and punishing them.

I'm specifically, Mr. Attorney General, referring to the Second Chance Act. The DOJ 2010 budget press release sent out by your office highlights the Second Chance Act. And that's not a bad thing, but there's no mention of Adam Walsh funding, for example. The welfare of terrorists, pedophiles and career criminals is prioritized, some people believe, at the expense of child safety, crime victims and law enforcement. I hope this is not the case.

Once again, this administration, like the previous one, has requested such an inadequate level of funding for the Adam Walsh enforcement that it essentially ensures the act's failure, which is disturbing. In a perfect world flush with resources, I would be supportive of funding the Second Chance Act, period. But the very idea of taking money from victims and law enforcement officers to educate and comfort terrorists, pedophiles and career criminals, I think, is an abomination.

Let me say this again. The Department of Justice is requesting funds to educate and to mentor terrorists, pedophiles and career criminals, while requesting no funds for tracking the people that abducted and -- the kinds of people that abducted and sexually assaulted Adam Walsh, Elizabeth Smart, Dru Sjodin, Polly Klaas, Jessica Lunsford and others like them.

How can we look into the eyes of the parents of these children and tell them the Department of Justice and the administration are prioritizing criminals while being (then overfunding ?) of the Adam Walsh Act?

Mr. Attorney General, the administration recently announced its intention to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, where 241 detainees are still being held. This will be a difficult and expensive undertaking for the department.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that the administration plans to possibly release the detainees into the U.S. The Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, went so far as to suggest that the administration is even considering providing these terrorists with taxpayer-funded subsidies to establish and supplement their new life in America. Gosh, I hope they don't come to my community.

I look forward to hearing whether this administration really intends to release these terrorist-trained detainees into our communities and give them public assistance, and under what circumstances.

Lastly, Mr. Attorney General, I'd like an explanation of the costs and burdens the department will have to undertake to begin the closure process. We want to work with you to ensure that the personnel under your direction involved in this process have the resources necessary to complete their mission safely.

And I do thank you again for appearing before the committee.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Mr. Attorney General.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Good morning, Chairwoman Mikulski, Ranking Member Shelby. Senator Alexander, it's good to see you. And I guess happy birthday, Senator Shelby.

SEN. SHELBY: Thank you.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I understand you had a birthday yesterday.

SEN. SHELBY: I did. And I hope I have many more. Thank you. (Laughter.)

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I'm sure you will.

SEN. MIKULSKI: I didn't know that. You really are a good detective. (Laughter.)

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: FBI works for me. (Laughter.)

Due to the presidential transition, the fiscal year 2010 budget request is being released in two parts. In February, the administration announced the top-line requests for each agency, including the Department of Justice. Today the president will transmit the fiscal year 2010 budget, which includes $26.7 billion for the Department of Justice.

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to highlight certain aspects of the budget and further discuss key priorities for the Department of Justice.

The president promised that, from the day that he took office, America will have a Justice Department that is truly dedicated to exactly that -- justice. As I mentioned, the Fiscal Year 2010 budget that will be transmitted today supports this vital task by investing a total of $26.7 billion in our critical law enforcement mission, including protecting America from terrorism, fighting financial and mortgage fraud, getting more cops on the beat, reinvigorating civil rights enforcement, and providing essential resources for our prisons.

As I testified during my confirmation hearing earlier this year, I will also pursue a very specific set of priorities. First, I will work to strengthen the activities of the federal government to protect the American people from terrorism. I will use every available tactic to defeat our adversaries, and I will do within the letter and the spirit of our Constitution.

Adherence to the rule of law strengthens security by depriving terrorist organizations of their prime recruiting tools. America must be a beacon to the world. We will lead by strength; we will lead by wisdom; and we will lead by example.

Second, I will ensure that law enforcement decisions and personal actions in the Justice Department are untainted by partisanship.

Third, I will revive the traditional missions of the Department. Without ever relaxing our guard against the fight against global terrorism, the Department must also embrace its historic mission in fighting crime, protecting civil rights, protecting the environment and ensuring fairness in the marketplace.

The Department's work does not end with those priorities. On January 22nd President Obama issued three Executive Orders and a Presidential Memorandum that gave significant responsibility to the Department. These orders require the immediate interagency -- require immediate interagency action regarding Guantanamo Bay detainees. Specifically, to 1) review the appropriate disposition of individuals who are currently detained there; to develop policies for handling individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and terrorist activities; and evaluate current interrogation practices; and make recommendations as is necessary.

Now, while implementing these orders, the Department will take necessary precautions to ensure decisions regarding Guantanamo Bay detainees account for safety concerns for all Americans. Executing these orders will have a significant workload and cost impact on the Department, and this budget reflects that need.

Last month I, along with other U.S. government officials, attended the Mexico-United States Arms Trafficking Conference in Mexico. This was my first foreign trip as attorney general. My attendance at this conference reflects my commitment to continuing the fight against the drug cartels. The United States shares the responsibility to find solutions to this problem, and we will join our Mexican counterparts in every step of the fight.

$26.7 billion is a significant of money -- significant amount of money that comes with a commensurate amount of responsibility. We will use these funds wisely and with transparency. Our internal efforts, which range from implementing the Department's new Unified Financial Management System, to establishing internal controls to ensure the proper expenditure of Recovery Act funds, will demonstrate our commitment to accountability at the highest level.

Chairwoman Mikulski, Senator Shelby and members of the subcommittee, I want to thank you for this opportunity to discuss the Department's priorities and for your support of our programs. I appreciate your recognition of the Department's mission and the important work that we do. I look forward to working with the -- in partnership with this subcommittee and with Congress as a whole. I'll be please to answer any questions that you might have.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Well, first, Mr. Attorney General, we want to salute you on these priorities, and believe that in your official statement too, where you said you want to counter the threat of terrorism and strengthen national security; make sure we're providing cops on the beat -- 50,000 of them; strengthen what the Southwest Border Initiatives -- both joining with the Mexican cartels (sic), as well as others; and combating financial fraud, we believe are very important priorities.

Let me get, though, right to what is kind of a headline topic, which is the Guantanamo Bay closing. We on the committee attended this time last week a hearing on the supplemental. And we heard the outstanding testimony of secretaries Gates and Clinton, where we listened to Defense and State. But, a significant part of what needs to happen will be at Justice. So, we're going to ask a little bit about this supplemental, as well as this -- what is in the Fiscal '10.

As we understand, for Guantanamo, the Justice Department is asking for $30 million to begin the closing of Guantanamo Bay; and then has a placeholder for Fiscal 2010 for additional funds related to the closing of Guantanamo Bay. Could you tell me -- I mean, you've got $30 million here, and what it says is you've got three task forces. That just strikes the committee as an awful lot of money to pay for bureaucracy -- three task forces. We do not minimize the role of these task forces, which are: detention review, interrogation policy, et cetera.

What would this $30 million do, and is this laying the groundwork for the dumping of terrorists into state and federal prisons?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, Madame Chairwoman, these are, as you indicated, not ordinary task forces. We were asked to set them up with short deadlines. There are obviously, as you indicated, extraordinary consequences to the work that these task forces will do for our country, and for the world, for that matter.

We had to take extraordinary measures to stand-up these full- fledged classified task forces -- (inaudible) -- put in place these classified legal review structures, utilizing dozens of attorneys and subject matter experts from around the country.

Now, to be more specific, we stood-up a temporary classified organization at the top-secret SCI level. There are tens of thousands of pages of classified documents that have to be reviewed; thousands more that have to be translated.

There are now over 80 attorneys, including several dozen detailed to Washington from our field offices, who are involved in this effort. We have paralegals with classified clearances that are needed and are involved in the effort. We have travel and lodging for those staff that is included in this money. And we're also having to backfill the positions in the field so that our traditional law enforcement work doesn't suffer as a result of the work the task forces have to do.

Now, all of this work has to be done in a secure, classified environment, using secure networks and classified-capable computers, scanning devices, phones and copiers. And, as you know from your Intelligence committee work, this is -- it's material and equipment that is very expensive. We also have secure electronic document handling capabilities that we need.

We have to outfit these task forces with, in essence, secure equipment that is required for the work that they are doing. We've also entered into an automated litigation support arrangement to support the massive document review effort that the task force -- task forces will have to do.

SEN. MIKULSKI: (Off mike.) Mr. Attorney General, what you're saying is, is that -- though it sounds like 241 prisoners, which is not a large number. I mean, I've got 600 -- in Maryland, I've got 600 prisoners awaiting federal trial.

But, the highly sensitive nature of who these prisoners are requires that everything occur in highly classified situations, because of the nature of the information involved. Is that correct?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Yeah, that is correct.

SEN. MIKULSKI: And that, second -- so, it's just not an inventory about a person, and what did he do, and how bad are they, and what we should do. So, its cost and expense, particularly with them being off the coast of Cuba and our coast, requires a great deal of expenditure just to maintain the security and the classification of this, and that we do it in an appropriate way. Is that correct?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: That is correct.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Now, when will these task forces be done?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: The task force that is reviewing the individualized -- making the individualized determinations on the detainees is supposed to be done by January of next year. The other two task forces are supposed to be finished by July of this year.

SEN. MIKULSKI: When would you anticipate that this be done, and that prisoners would begin to leave Guantanamo to places yet to be determined?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I'm not sure. We are still in the process of making those individualized determinations and we haven't come to a conclusion yet as to when we'll be in a position to actually ask specific countries for -- with regard to specific detainees, if they would take them.

We're doing this on a rolling basis, and we have not gotten to that point yet. I would expect in the next few months, though, that we would probably start that process.

SEN. MIKULSKI: But, Mr. Attorney General, are saying that, first of all, there is no immediate or imminent release of prisoners that would be placed on the shores of the United States of America?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: No. As I said, we are still in the process of making those determinations -- making individualized determinations as to where these people should go. And paramount in our concern is the safety of the American people. We are not going to put at risk the safety of the people of this country in any determination we make with regard to the disposition of any of these individuals.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Well, I'm glad to hear that safety of our people is the number one concern.

Could you tell us what would be the general policy and consultation that you would have? Because I think fear that many have -- whether they're governors, those of us who are elected officials, that we don't wake up one day and we hear that there's 100 people coming and they're just going to be -- I don't mean dropped off, we would be very concerned about not proper consultation.

Do you anticipate them going to federal facilities? What is your process?

We understand that the president and you can't go to another country and say, "Please take some of these prisoners", unless we ourselves also evaluate our responsibility.

But what would be your timetable? What is your role and the president's in consultation so that we're aware of this? These are not just any old prisoners.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: With regard to the disposition of all of these detainees, we will be consulting -- and that's, in fact, what I was in Europe doing last week -- talking to our allies about the possibility of making transfers to some of those countries. We're talking to our allies in the Middle East well for the possible transfer --

SEN. MIKULSKI: But who are you going to talk to in the United States?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, if the decision is made to have people come to the United States -- and I say "if"; that determination has not been made yet -- we would obviously be consulting with state and local officials, federal officials, to do that in the way that we would want to do it and make sure that, as you say, surprises did not occur.

But I really want to emphasize that determinations have not been made yet with regard to any individuals about where any specific people are going.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Well, let me tell you what I worry about: First of all, of course, the safety of our community.

But one of the things that happened to me during the Bush administration was I woke up to a headline coming from Justice and the Department of Prisons that they were going to put a prison -- a 1,700- person detention facility -- in Maryland and they chose two African- American communities as their sites and no one had talked to me. No one had talked to Governor Ehrlich, a Republican governor, and all the sudden we were facing this and it was going to hold everything from federal prisoners awaiting trial to potentially holding terrorists.

I launched like Sally Ride going into orbit about this -- as did also Governor Ehrlich. It's not that we don't understand federal responsibility, but wow! And also, it was going to be a privately operated prison by a Mississippi company. So we can't have that.

Can I have your assurances that nothing would be done at the state and local community without consultation with us and also consultation with governors?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, Madame Chairwoman, I give you that promise with regard to all that the Justice Department will do and all of the components that we have.

We want to have a good relationship with this committee, with other members of Congress. We want to work in partnership -- and I truly mean that -- in partnership so that we establish priorities, that we carry out the work that we think is important, but also what members of Congress -- what this committee think is important. We're looking to work together to solve the common problems that we all face.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Well, thank you.

I know we're going to have a lot to talk about, but I thank you for your candor. At least what you're saying is -- right now you're doing an inventory of who's there and what is the right way to dispose of them, as well as also a real evaluation about what is the best interrogation policies that get the best information under the rule of law. Is that correct?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: That's correct, ma'am.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Senator Shelby.

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R-AL): Thank you, Madame Chairman.

Attorney General Holder, about more than a month ago, my colleague from Alabama, Senator Sessions -- who is now the ranking or top Republican on the Judiciary Committee that you deal with a lot -- he wrote you a letter dated April the 2nd regarding, among other things, the legal authority of the United States of America through the Justice Department asking whether the federal government has the current authority to admit any prisoner held at the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, who participated in terrorist-related activities, in the United States. He sent a follow-up letter on May the 4th to you.

My question to you, in view of the statutes -- as you're very familiar with in a Court of Appeals from the District of Columbia decision -- does the U.S. government have the authority to admit these terrorists into the United States, if you move them from Guantanamo Bay into some of our communities? And if you think they do, could you provide for at the committee a written response as to the authority of that?

First, do you think you have the authority to do that -- to move terrorists into the communities?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, as I indicated in my opening statement, the purpose of this review is to individualize determinations as to what should happen to the detainees. And the paramount consideration that we will have is the safety of the American people.

Transfer or release of these detainees will only happen in those instances where we are convinced that that can be done in a way that the communities that receive them -- overseas, with our allies -- will not have any impact on the safety of the place that is receiving them.

SEN. SHELBY: Excuse me a minute. Excuse me.

Are you saying that one, you believe you have the legal authority to bring terrorists into this country and disperse them around the country in the communities? Do you believe you have that?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: The underlying premise I don't agree with. We don't have any plans to release terrorists --

SEN. SHELBY: I asked if you have the authority first. Do you have the authority under the law to do this -- to bring terrorists into this country and bring them into the community?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: What I'm saying is that with regard to those who you describe as terrorists, we would not bring them into this country and release them -- anybody who we consider to be a terrorist as I think you're using the word.

SEN. SHELBY: A terrorist, or former terrorist or whatever -- or terrorist trained -- all of that.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: And again, as I said, with regard to the release decisions we will make, we will look at these cases on an individualized basis and make determinations as to where they can appropriately be placed.

SEN. SHELBY: Isn't that a dicey thing to do? Do you know of any community in the United States of America that would welcome terrorists -- former terrorists, would-be terrorists, people trained as terrorists -- that have been incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay into any community in this country?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, again, it will not be the intention of this task force, or the intention of this administration or this attorney general to place anybody either -- in any part of this world -- who is a risk to the community, to the country that is receiving these individuals.

You have to understand that we're going to be making decisions with regard to these people. Some are going to be released. Some are going to be tried. Some will be detained on a fairly extended basis.

And so those who will be released are those who we think can be released and be released on a safe basis.

SEN. SHELBY: Of course, as the attorney general, you're familiar with a number of terrorists who have been released to their various countries that have wound up as leaders in terrorist activities killing our soldiers, our allies and everything else.

You're aware of the track record there where people have been released and most of them have come back as some of the top terrorists of the world.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I'm not sure I'd say most. I know that with regard to the Saudi program, for instance, that re-education program that they have used, about 10 percent of those, apparently, have returned to the battlefield. A not insignificant number, but we will do all that we can in those release determinations that we make to ensure that those people who we think will pose a danger if released, in fact, do not get released.

SEN. SHELBY: Could you say here today that the top priority of your office as the attorney general of the United States would be to protect the American people from terrorist activity at any cost?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I spend every waking moment of my life now thinking about how I can ensure the safety of the American people.

The responsibilities of this job are enormous and they have become more enormous since September the 11th. In talking to my predecessors -- Attorney General Ashcroft, Gonzales and Mukasey -- I understand in a way that I did not, before I had this job, the heavy responsibility that being attorney general now is.

SEN. SHELBY: If I could shift a little bit to the explosives trafficking in Mexico that you alluded to earlier.

In April, the Associated Press reported that Mexico has seized more than 2,702 grenades since the start of the new president's term in December of '06.

There has been a lot of focusing from your office too, on the trafficking of firearms to Mexico and tracing the origins of firearms recovered at crime scenes, but we've heard little in regard to this serious threat that explosives -- from explosives trafficking.

Does the Department of Justice have adequate resources in Mexico in identifying these recovered explosives, one? Does the Department of Justice have adequate resources at the U.S. Bomb Data Center to trace the enormous increase in grenades recovered in Mexico and analyze the data from these traces? And what efforts, Mr. Attorney General, has the Department of Justice taken to provide explosive training to Mexican military and law enforcement authorities?

And I guess, lastly, how can we help in this regard in the funding of these activities that I think are very important?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: We have, we think, been helped -- we think we've been helpful to our Mexican counterparts by moving resources to the southwest border. ATF agents, DEA agents, FBI agents, as well as increasing our presence within Mexico to deal with the arms trafficking that is going on there -- and also with regard to the issue that you raised with regard to the explosive devices that are found there.

We have, I think, in our budget additional resources -- (seek ?) additional resources requests in that regard. I think the facility that is located in Alabama can be a critical part in helping our Mexican counterparts in focusing there.

But I think more generally in the work that the Justice Department, I think, should have the responsibility for in dealing with explosives and the crime that can be committed using explosive devices.

That is a very, very important --

SEN. SHELBY: I'm glad to hear that, you know, because there's a tug of war, you know, for appropriations going on up here, wittingly, unwittingly, between the department of Homeland Security and the Justice department. But I believe that a lot of this responsibility lies with the Justice department.

Thank you, Madam Chairman.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Thank you.

Senator Lautenberg, ordinarily we'd be alternating party but I'm taking people in order of arrival. I'm going to turn to Senator Alexander now.

Senator Alexander -- and then we'll come right over to you.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R-TN): Thank you, Madam Chairman.

Thank you, Senator Lautenberg. I appreciate that.

Mr. Attorney General, welcome. Thank you for being here --

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Good morning.

SEN. ALEXANDER: -- and thank you for your service.

I have a few questions about the interrogation of enemy combatants. I thought President Obama's first instinct was a good one when he said that we should look forward, but apparently not everyone agrees with that. I notice a member of the House of Representatives yesterday said that she wanted a full, top-to-bottom criminal investigation.

So these are my questions. Number one, what directions or guidance have you received from the president or his representatives or anyone at the White House concerning an investigation of the interrogation of enemy combatants?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, as we have indicated, for those people who were involved in the interrogation and who relied upon in good faith and adhered to the memorandum created by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, it is our intention not to prosecute and not to investigate those people.

I've also indicated that we will follow the law and the facts and let that take us wherever it may. I think a good prosecutor can only say that. But -- so I think those are the only general ways in which we view this issue.

SEN. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Mr. Attorney. Well, my second question would be, should you follow these facts in continuing an investigation if you're investigating lawyers at the Department of Justice who wrote legal opinions authorizing certain interrogations, wouldn't it also be appropriate to investigate the CIA employees or contractors or other people from intelligence agencies who ask or created the interrogation techniques or officials in the Bush administration who approved them? Or what about members of Congress who were informed of them or knew about them or approved them or encouraged them? Wouldn't they also be appropriate parts of such an investigation?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, there is, as has been publicly reported, an OPR inquiry into the work of the attorneys who prepared those OLC memoranda. I have not reviewed it -- it is not in final form yet. I have not reviewed that report. I'll look at that report and see -- make a determination as to what we want to do with it, what I want to do with recommendations. It deals, I suspect, not only with the attorneys but the people they interacted with. So I think we'll gain some insights by reviewing that report.

Our desire is not to do anything that would be perceived as political, as partisan. We do want to look forward to the extent that we can do that. But as I said, my responsibility as attorney general is to enforce the laws of this nation, and to the extent that we see violations of those laws we'll take the appropriate action.

SEN. ALEXANDER: So you would follow -- the investigation could follow to the people who ask for the -- I mean, if you're going to investigate the lawyers whose opinion was asked about whether this is legal or not, I would assume you could also go to the people who created the techniques, the officials who approved them and the members of Congress who knew about them and may have encouraged them.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I mean, hypothetically, that might be true, I don't know. But what I want to do it look at in a very concrete way what that OPR report says and get a better sense from that report about what it says about the interaction of those lawyers with people in the administration and see from there whether further action is warranted.

SEN. ALEXANDER: My last question is once we begin this process the question is where is the line drawn?

According to former intelligence officials, renditions -- and by renditions we mean moving captured people from our country to another country where they might be interrogated or even worse -- those renditions were used by the Clinton administration beginning in the mid 1990s to investigate and disrupt Al Qaeda. That's the testimony before Congress. And Michael Shawyer, he said that it began in late summer of '95, I authorized it, I ran it, I managed it against Al Qaeda leaders.

The Washington Post says that the former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, George Tenet, said there were about 70 renditions carried out before September 11, 2001, most of them during the Clinton years.

Mr. Attorney General, you were the deputy attorney general from 1997 to 2001. Did you know about these renditions? Did you or anyone else at the Department of Justice approve them? What precautions were taken to ensure these renditions and any interrogations of such detainees, on, by, or behalf of the United States government complied with the law?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I think the concern that we have with renditions is renditions to countries that would not treat suspects with -- treat them in a way that's consistent with the laws via treaties that we have signed. If a person's going to be -- if there's a rendition taking a person to a place where the possibility is that person might be tortured, that's the kind of rendition I think that is inappropriate.

From my memory of my time in the Clinton administration, I don't believe that we did that, that we had renditions where people were taken to places where we had any reasonable belief they were going to be tortured. And that would be the concern that I would have.

I wouldn't want to restrict the ability of our government to use all the techniques that we can to keep the American people safe. But in using those tools we have to do so in a way that's consistent with our treaty obligations and our values as a nation.

SEN. ALEXANDER: But I think you can see the line of my inquire, which is if we're going to ask lawyers who were asked to give legal opinions, we're going to investigate them, jeopardize their careers, second guess them, look back, then where does that stop? I mean, do we not also have to look at the people who asked for those techniques, at people who approved those techniques, at members of Congress who knew about and encouraged the techniques perhaps?

Or, in your case, in the Clinton administration we don't know what the interrogations were then. Perhaps you do, and the question would be whether you approved them.

I prefer President Obama's approach. I think it's time to look forward and I hope he sticks to that point of view.

Thank you, Madam Chair.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, I will note that, you know, the OPR inquiry was begun in the prior administration. And also would note that I'm a prosecutor, I've been a career prosecutor and I hope a good one. And a good prosecutor uses the discretion that he or she has in an appropriate way and has the ability to know how far an inquiry needs to go to satisfy the obligations that that prosecutor has without needlessly dragging into an investigation at great expense, both personal and professional, people who should not be there. And that would be the kind of judgment that I hope I would bring to making determinations that you expressed concern about.

SEN. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Madam Chairman. Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Senator Lautenberg.

SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ): Thank you, Madam Chairman.

And welcome Mr. Attorney General. We've had the opportunity to work together in the past. As a matter of fact, nearly 10 years ago, the aftermath of the slaughter at Columbine -- 13 young people killed, 26 wounded. We worked to close the gun show loophole. It passed the Senate 51-50, Vice President Gore breaking the tie. And at the time you urged the House to follow the Senate's lead to close this loophole. It's 10 years later, the loophole still exists. Do you think it's time for Congress to try again to get this sensible legislation in place?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well I think we've got to use our creativity. We've got to use the tools that we already have. We have to use the budget that we have proposed to come up with ways in which we arm our state and local partners with the tools that are necessary to combat the gun violence that I think still plagues our country.

There are a variety of things that I think that we can do and we want to work with this committee and other members of Congress -- listen to our state and local partners and try to determine what is it we can do to help them with regard to reducing the gun violence that they still confront.

So I think, as I said, there are a variety of things that we can do and we'll look at all of those possibilities, and then, I think, make determinations on the basis of the interaction we have with our partners, the interaction that we'll have in the executive branch, consultations we'll have with members of Congress to decide exactly which tools are going to be the ones that will be the most effective.

SEN. LAUTENBERG: Yeah, but doesn't it offend the sensibilities to know that guns can be bought at gun shows where your name isn't asked, no social security number isn't asked, no picture is taken, no reason for the gun purchase, is it sporting, is it hunting, and none of that. And here, like again the Columbine massacre, a young woman bought these guns without question, gave them to the two fellows who killed all their friends.

Doesn't it strike you as kind of an anomaly in our pursuit of law and justice in protecting our citizens that this is a kind of a foolish way to turn our back on these things, which is what happens, Mr. Holder?

I was traveling out west in the state where gun ownership is a matter of pride to lots of people. But the place was jammed, and there were unlicensed gun dealers selling weapons without asking questions. You know, when I asked the question about sensibilities, I don't know whether that ever gets us to the end of the line, but it sure sticks out like a flaw in our system, as far as I'm concerned. And I hope that you'll be able to pursue this aggressively.

The recovery act provides $10 million for the administration's Southwest Border Initiative focused on reducing gun trade that fuels so much of the violence in Mexico. Can we be assured that the DOJ's effort to stop the flow of guns to Mexico will not interfere with resources that are designed to stop domestic gun trafficking within our country?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: That's actually a very legitimate concern, Senator. We are going to help our Mexican counterparts with the issues, the problems that they confront. We have drugs flowing from Mexico into this country, a lot of guns flowing from this country into Mexico. And the resources that we're moving to the southwest border we're doing on a temporary basis to try to help our Mexican counterparts with regard to their efforts and being mindful of the fact that, as we move those resources to the southwest border, that we're not doing anything that would weaken our efforts in other parts of the country. So we're trying to do it in a way that's sensitive to the needs of the places in which these agents and other personnel come from so that we can be helpful to our Mexican counterparts without weakening the efforts that we're making there.

I also think there's a collateral impact in helping our Mexican counterparts. To the extent that we stop the flow of arms into Mexico, we will necessarily confront, I suspect, people who are also illegally trafficking in guns in this country. And so I think there's a collateral impact, positive impact in helping our Mexican counterparts. But I think you're right to raise that concern. And I think it's one that we are being sensitive to.

SEN. LAUTENBERG: You and I had the opportunity to work together some years ago on the issue of racial profiling. It was unfortunately highlighted in our state of New Jersey but across the country we saw incidents of that nature. Now, new leadership, how is the DOJ addressing this continuing problem?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, that's an issue that we focused on in the Clinton administration. It is something that will be a priority for this administration as well. Profiling is simply not good law enforcement. If you devote the limited resources that we have in law enforcement on the basis of profiling, on the basis of non-traditional techniques, we have a good basis for predicate. We will focus on somebody and the person who in fact ought to be concerned about slips on by. So I think we've learned a lot from the efforts that we did in the '90s, working with you and with others. And our hope would be to replicate those efforts. That is still something that is a priority for us

It has a negative impact also on the communities in which that is practiced and tends to breed disrespect for law enforcement and for the criminal justice system. And we have to avoid that.

SEN. LAUTENBERG: Thanks. The anomaly in New Jersey that took place was when our attorney general to be was stopped at a roadside rest place and questioned and so forth. And the only thing they could accuse him of was driving while black, and that's what caused that stop.

The last question, Mr. Holder. In the last administration, the COPS program was nearly decimated with serious cuts in funding. The recovery act contains $1 billion for the COPS program. It's, I think, a great start. How do we make up for the deficit that occurred in having people trained and available as a result of the neglect of this program?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, I think the $1 billion that the recovery act provides will give us a leg up on the efforts that we have to use to reinvigorate the COPS program. We have about $300 million in the budget for next year. And I think we have to keep that effort up. Our aim is to put 50,000 new police officers on the street. I think that what we've done in the first year is significant, but we must continue those efforts on a year-by-year basis. I think we have to see a lot of what we're doing this year as really down payments on efforts to revitalize programs that I think we should focus on and revitalize efforts that I think perhaps have been neglected in the recent past.

SEN. LAUTENBERG: And I close, Madame Chairman, with congratulations to the attorney general for filling the positions that he has with highly capable people and for the zeal and the vigor with which you're pursuing your responsibility. And we thank you for that.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I look forward to working with a young man from New Jersey, who I think is going to be a great U.S. attorney.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Mr. Attorney General, Senator Shelby and I have another round. I'd like to pick up on the Southwest Border Initiative and ask some questions in that area.

Much has been in the news about swine flu, H1N1. But I believe that in addition to that virus in which there was a (kind of near ?) panic as would concern a pandemic in the United States, but I believe there is another, quote, "pandemic" in the United States, and that is our insatiable demand for drugs. And as long as we have an insatiable demand for drugs, we're going to be funding the Taliban in Afghanistan and we're going to be emboldening and empowering the Mexican cartels.

There is a great deal in your appropriations about increased agents and the technology they need. First of all, let's deal with that. In other words, it sounds almost like a Petraeus strategy meets Mexico and our border, which is more troops, more technology. I don't dispute that. Obviously, it had an impact. But also, we need to look at the other side of that, which is the insatiable demand.

But let's talk about the actual violence and what's going on. This committee, meaning the Appropriations Committee, has already funded staff, we've provided five additional helicopters, we've been providing money, resources and manpower. Could you tell us what exactly you intend to do at the Southwest Border Initiative? How many agents? How many attorneys? What do you see, and what do you estimate the cost for that to be? Because we want to do that, and then I'll come to the demand side.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Yeah. In 2010, our request is for $231 million for the southwest border. We've asked for about almost 1,200 new positions, 632 agents, about 110 attorneys. This would include 34 ATF agents, about 70 DEA agents. I think there is clearly a need for a balanced strategy, and we'll talk about the other part of that in your next question, I guess, for us to have a strong enforcement presence to deal with the problem of the drugs flowing into our country. But I think there also has to be an effort to deal with the demand side as well. So with regard to the enforcement side, that is what we are requesting in the 2010 budget.

SEN. MIKULSKI: So as I understand, essentially for enough manpower, you hope to deploy 632 agents and over 100 attorneys. And the agents are, like, 528 agents for the Marshal Service. Are those new agents, or are those agents that you're going to deploy from other areas?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I believe these are all new positions. The 1,187 are all new positions with regard to agents and attorneys.

SEN. MIKULSKI: You know, we're placing an awful lot of stress on the Marshal Service, and I just want to bring this to your attention in the spirit of cordiality. We've asked them now to take on the Adam Walsh Act in addition to the protection of the judges, the transportation of prisoners who are increasingly violent, the pursuit of the fugitive warrants, Adam Walsh, and now they're going to be really very intensely involved in the Southwest Border Initiative. And I would hope as we go through this process, in addition to looking at our FBI and (BATF ?), that we also look at not only what we're asking the marshals to do for this project, which is much needed, that also what else have we asked them to do in the Adam Walsh Act which the ranking member has addressed.

Now, so we want to support you in that. But let's go to the first line of defense which is local law enforcement in the border communities and then also the whole issue of the demand side. We see that the president has asked for more cops on the beat.

But when we look at our stressed border communities, do you see additional funds and resources going into those local law enforcement? Because crime will flow and violence back and forth across the borders. How do we look at how we really are partners with our border law enforcement?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, we have in our budget request a total of $2.6 billion for state and local funding, and that's in addition to money that is included in the Recovery Act, which I guess is about $4 billion. And I think that's a recognition of the fact on the part of this administration that for us to be really effective in our law enforcement effort, we have to have good state and local partners. And to the extent that we can, we need to meet the needs that they have. We have to assist them to the extent that we can.

The Southwest border is a place of particular attention for us, and we will be helping our state and local partners there, drawing from the pools that I have talked about. But it also -- I think the monies that we have asked for, significant amounts of money that we have asked for, is a recognition of the fact that the attention that we devote to the Southwest border has got to be replicated in other parts of the country as well.

We need our state and local partners to have the technology that they need, to have the resources that they need. And we have, as I said, come up with pretty substantial amounts of money, both in terms of state and local funding plus the COPS program, to help our state and local --

SEN. MIKULSKI: Well, let me ask you this -- (inaudible) -- support our border partners and our border communities. But what I don't want is to be at the expense of other states. So while I want to protect the Southwest Border Initiative, I want to protect southwest Baltimore, and to be sure that we're not competing against a really significant threat, I believe, just a very significant threat; that if we don't intervene aggressively now, it will have horrific consequences to our security.

But at the same time, we don't want them competing with Alabama, Utah, Arkansas, et cetera. Is that the way you see it for your cops and your interventions and interdictions and preventions?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Yeah. And that is why I think our requests are as large as they are, so that we'll have the ability to do all the things that you just talked about, which is to give attention to the Southwest border, but also not lose focus on the very important priorities that we have in other parts of the country.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Yeah, but you have -- are they going to be sequestered, or is there going to be, for cops on the beat, that there's going to be a focus on the Southwest border communities, but then there's other funds for other state and local jurisdictions to compete? Or is it all one big pot?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, we have money that is set aside for the Southwest border, but we also have substantial amounts of money that go for other state and local efforts that we are making. So there's not necessarily that competition.

I would also say that when we look at the Southwest border, we have to understand that the effort that we take there will have residual positive impacts in other parts of the country. When we announced the takedown of, I guess, Project Accelerator six or seven weeks or so ago, we indicated that people who were arrested in connection with the Mexican cartels -- you think Southwest border -- were involved; some of those people were from Maryland. I mean, we had arrests in Maryland in connection with that, and a variety of other states.

SEN. MIKULSKI: But people in Maryland, Alabama and so on are using drugs, which -- I don't want to get into semantics about -- (inaudible). I think we've got a good picture and really want to support the policy.

But I want to go to the demand side. And I really salute Secretary Clinton, when she went to Mexico, where we took ownership for our insatiable demand for drugs. And I just want to speak about my own beloved Baltimore. We were on our way. We had a great renaissance momentum. And then, bang, in came cocaine. And we've never recovered from it. Cocaine really took generation after generation of young people in our community across all ethnic and class lines. It brought in so much money that it enabled people to arm themselves at times where the crooks had better arms than our cops on the beat, et cetera.

Each administration has been rather tepid and timid and uneven in dealing with demand. We've tried "Just say no," "Just say no a little bit more," "Let's do a little bit more here or there."

With the Obama administration and your leadership -- and I'm looking at Sebelius, Arne Duncan, just across the board -- is the administration developing a comprehensive strategy to really work at the local level? Because it's got to be fought at the local level to deal with this demand side.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I would totally agree --

SEN. MIKULSKI: And I'm not talking about hugs for crooks. I'm talking about the kind of juvenile justice programs, et cetera, where we do this early intervention.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: No, I would totally agree with you. I mean, if you look at the request we've made on the juvenile justice side, we have a request for $317 million. The drug mental health and problem- solving courts program, we have $59 million. There's a recognition of the fact that we have to do something on the demand side. As a local judge here in Washington, D.C., I witnessed that.

SEN. MIKULSKI: You saw it.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: I saw that. I sent, you know, unfortunately, too many young men and women to jail because of drug problems that they had and the crimes they committed as a result.

SEN. MIKULSKI: But let me ask a question. Are you developing a comprehensive approach with other Cabinet members?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Yes, we are.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Is that underway?


SEN. MIKULSKI: We'll come back, I know. Senator Shelby has to ask questions, and I know your time is very limited.

Let me just conclude by saying some things are really working well. And one of the things that I know you witnessed as both a lawyer, a resident, a judge in this town, first of all, one of which is the way the law worked so well on the sniper case. And it's these local task forces that I want to emphasize.

Do you remember when Washington was gripped by the fear of the sniper? All games were canceled for children. We were afraid to get out of our car and walk into a Burger King. A beloved FBI employee was shot coming home from Home Depot. And the fact that our local law enforcement around the Beltway, working with the federal officials, we were able to catch that sniper, that kind of cooperation continues to exist and we need to build on.

I'm very proud of the kind of task forces that are being used in Maryland right now, and I hope that we could have the emphasis on task forces, one is which we've just broken up a cell phone ring in Maryland state prisons, where guys were sitting there ordering lobster, shrimp and ordering contract killing. But thanks to the task force approach, we were able to intervene and stop them.

And while we're doing it against such violent, repugnant people, we also have now a task force against mortgage fraud, where another type of predator was stalking our community, particularly our low- income.

So we've got a lot to build on. And if we can work together, I think we can make a difference and also make that change that President Obama wants. So I want you to know, I think all of us feel that in many ways at the local level, it's working; if we can keep that momentum going through these task forces.

Senator Shelby.

SEN. SHELBY: Thank you, Madame Chair.

Mr. Attorney General, I want to go back into the area that Senator Alexander was questioning you earlier. I believe you went to the Department of Justice as the deputy attorney general in '97. Is that correct?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: That's correct.

SEN. SHELBY: I remember. During that time -- and you were there from '97 until the Bush administration went into office in 2001. During that time, I happened to have been the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, from '97 to the summer of 2001, after you had left. And, of course, we interacted with the Justice Department.

As the deputy attorney general, you were involved. You were a very active deputy, as I recall. And the Intelligence Committee dealt with, of course, CIA and everything that goes on.

Senator Alexander went through some chronological events coming from Director Tenet and others as to what happened as far as rendition and interrogation of would-be terrorists and terrorists during the period before -- during the Clinton years, when you were active there.

I wasn't clear as to the answer a few minutes ago, so I'm going to ask this question again. During your tenure as the deputy attorney general of the United States, '97 to 2001, did you know about these renditions? And if you didn't know, why didn't you know? Because people in Justice knew.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: No, I'd have to look back. I don't know the exact numbers that Senator Alexander --

SEN. SHELBY: No, did you know about them? I didn't say how many. That was Tenet's testimony, I believe. It's been in the record in the papers that there were 70 or more. Did you know about them generally, and did you know about interrogation techniques at that time?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Well, I certainly knew that generally there were renditions that were occurring. I can't honestly say that I knew about specific interrogation techniques that were being used at that time.

SEN. SHELBY: Would you check the record and furnish this to the committee? We think this is an important question, because a lot of this just didn't start with the Bush administration is what I'm saying. This interrogation/rendition of terrorists had been going on before the Bush administration.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Oh, but I think there's a distinction that needs to be drawn here, and that is the focus of the concern that we have with regard to Guantanamo was that -- and the things that preceded it -- that we had American agents, representatives of our government, perhaps involved in the use of techniques that we didn't think were appropriate.

Now, I'll certainly look at the records that you asked for --

SEN. SHELBY: Will you do that? Just for the record. And did you or the attorney general that you were working with day in, day out, or anyone else under your jurisdiction at the Department of Justice, then, approve these renditions and interrogations? You had to. But I'll wait for your record to show.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: We will review those records and I'll provide you with a response.

SEN. SHELBY: And Mr. Attorney General, if so, what precautions were taken to ensure that the renditions and any interrogations that were going on in the intelligence community regarding such detainees, what precautions were made? In other words, what steps did you go through to see that they complied with the law at that time? Can you furnish that for the record?

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: Sure. I will go through that --

SEN. SHELBY: You might (need to ?) go back, because I know it was a while back. But you were in a very important job, because I remember interacting with you.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: We'll look at those records and see the numbers, to the extent that I can provide those --

SEN. SHELBY: Absolutely.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: -- and the protections, you know, that we used. It may be that I'll have to do this in a classified way --

SEN. SHELBY: That's okay.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: -- but we'll provide you with those.

SEN. SHELBY: We can do that.

ATTY GEN. HOLDER: That's fine.

SEN. SHELBY: Okay. I'd like to get into some other things now; the GAO study.

In April 2009 Mr. Attorney General a GAO study concluded that ICE is not participating or contributing to several important intelligence coordination centers. As a result of this lack of cooperation according to the General Accounting Office our government's war on drugs is not as productive as it should be.

The GAO recommended that the secretary of DHS direct ICE to contribute all of its relevant drug-related information to the DEA's special operations divisions and ensure that if ICE fully participates in both -- you know, secretary of SOD and then the OCD fusion center. My question to you: is ICE contributing all of its relevant drug related information to the DEA's special operations division, and if not, why not? And if you don't know that if you could furnish that for you the record.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I share the concern that you have expressed, and I have raised that with Secretary Napolitano who I've worked with as U.S. Attorney in the Clinton administration. And we are together trying to address that issue and trying to make sure that both of our agencies are contributing all of the intelligence information that we have, and given the resources, given the agency that we have stood up. And I think we'll make progress in that.

SEN. SHELBY: Are there other agencies that have not participated, or have refused to participate? It looks to me like you've got to coordinate this in the Department of Justice. You'll be right at the top of it.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Well, I'd like to think that we have the special expertise in the Justice Department in that regard, and we will work with our partners at DHS to ensure that ICE becomes fully involved in that effort.

SEN. SHELBY: Ballistics, very important I think. Generalsecretary -- Attorney General, I want to call you secretary -- Attorney General Holder, while the president recently endorsed the use of ballistics imaging as part of the effort to end gun violence along the Southwest border, the committee has been informed that DHS, Department of Homeland Security, is not coordinating their gun investigations through the ATF, which is -- you know -- are there any official memorandums of understanding or policies in place that you know about requiring the use of NIBIN by DHS law enforcement? And if you want to do this for the record, that's okay.

And could you provide a copy to the committee, the chairman and others, if you could. And what is the extent of DHS, Department of Homeland Security's, coordination with the ATF's project Gun Runner, if you know? If you don't know offhand, I know I'm asking you a lot of questions, we'd like to know for the record, because we fund all these programs.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Sure. I will provide for the record answers to the specific questions that you have asked. But I will say that generally I think Secretary Napolitano and I both agree that coordination between DHS and the Justice Department has not necessarily been as good as it needs to be. That's an issue, and we will be very frank about that that we have not worked together in a way that is efficient and effective.

SEN. SHELBY: But the Justice Department has got a lot of expertise in this area, hasn't it?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Oh, absolutely. And DHS brings things to the table as well. We need to come up with ways in which we coordinate our efforts so that we can most effective. But concerns that you raise are very legitimate ones, and we try to address them.

SEN. SHELBY: Are you going to be assertive in this area to make sure that the expertise of Justice is shared and used in this area?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I wouldn't have taken the job unless I was here to advance the interests of an institution in which I grew up and which I love, and which I have great faith in the men and women who work in his department. I think we are experts in a whole bunch of areas --

SEN. SHELBY: But some of us on the appropriations committee, both Democrats and Republicans, we see at times parallel initiatives that we don't need, and it's very costly. In other words, to reinvent the wheel, and you've got the big wheel in Justice, and want to make sure that you are well funded and keep it.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: We want to be well funded. I will be assertive. But we also want to work with member so of this committee to identify those areas where you think that there is duplication of effort, so that we minimize that, and that we work efficiently together. We want to be working in partnership with you all as well.

SEN. SHELBY: Absolutely. One last -- Madam Chairman if you would let me, one last thing. I mentioned in my opening statement that there are a number of item (ph) loss provisions that will soon expire. Does the department have a legislative plan regarding these expiring provisions of -- (inaudible) -- which I think and others have thought was a good piece of legislation? And does the department support reauthorization of these provisions designed to protect children from pedophiles and sexual predators?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: Yes, we obviously -- not obviously, but we support the Wallshack (ph), I guess we've asked for $381 million, it's a 5 percent increase over fiscal year '09, and that would support 50 new marshal service deputies and a $15 million increase there as well.

The Wallshack (ph) we think is important, and it is something that we do support.

SEN. SHELBY: Thank you. Thank you for your indulgence, Madam Chair.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Actually a question, Senator Shelby. In the order of arrival I'm going to turn to Senator Pryor, one of our newest members, and then of course have as our wrap up hitter the chairman of the judiciary committee. We are so fortunate to be able to have him as both the premier authorizer, also to bring that wisdom and skill and experience to the appropriation.

Senator Pryor.

SEN. MARK PRYOR (D-AR): Thank you, Madam Chair.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Go ahead.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you very much.

General Holder, let me start with something that the last administration attempted to do, and that is, they tried to, in their FY '09 budget, they tried to consolidate the 38 federal law enforcement assistance programs like COPS, et cetera, into three competitive grant programs. They also in our view were going to try to underfund those. But do you have any plans to do consolidation along those same lines?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I'm not sure I'm totally familiar with what the prior administration did. Our hope is to have sufficient amounts of money in the programs that we think are important, COPS being among them. Certainly Vern (ph) and Jag grant (ph). We want to have flexibility so that we can be responsive to the needs of our state and local partners, and be more -- most effective in using the resources that we have.

SEN. PRYOR: I would encourage you if you are thinking about any changes to certainly reach out to the state and local people, because they really rely on those grants, and that's, in a lot of ways, in a lot of places and a lot of ways, that is really critical funding on the local level.

Let me ask about -- there was a story this morning in the Washington Post about the -- it wasn't totally about the SCAAT program, the State Criminal Alien Assistant Program, As I understand it, are you going to try to eliminate that program? I know there have been some problems. Some of the states and local law enforcement have not been real crazy -- some of the administration of it. But I think that many of them have said that the program, you know, is very popular, et cetera. Do you know the status of that, and what the plan is for that, and why?

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: We are not asking for additional money for staff in the budget for next year. But one of our priorities is making sure that our nation's borders are protected, and although we seek to eliminate funding for SCAAT, we have, we think, other monies in the budget, we have $3.4 billion in DOJ resources to help prevent illegal immigration and combat the violence associated with border gangs.

We think that the SCAAT program really, although it had a value, we think we can get greater value by dealing with the problem in an enforcement way as opposed to using the limited resources that we have on I guess the detention side.

I will say however that this is obviously a budget proposal that we have, and to the extent that you have strong feelings about the SCAAT program, we'd be more than glad to interact with you, talk to you about that and see if there are ways in which we can meet your concerns.

SEN. PRYOR: Yeah, I would like to talk about that. I just want to make sure that we are not dropping something that we really need. If you think that you've really got it covered in other ways, other areas, I certainly would like to hear more about that.

Last question I really had was about this issue where the I think Congress Daily actually had a little story on it today about the dispute between the Department of Justice and the inspector general's office regarding the FBI's terrorist watch list. The IG has been critical of the FBI to the extent that the FBI apparently quickly adds and quickly removes people from the list.

I'd like to ask you about that criticism, if we can call it that, from the IG, and how you respond to that, and if there is any changes that need to be made.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: We have a great IG, Glen Fine. I've worked with him, known him for a long time. I've not actually seen the report, but it's my understanding that the concerns that were raised in the report are serious ones, but that with regard to the issues that were raised by the inspector general, they have actually been met, those concerns have been met by the FBI changes that have been made in response to the issues that were raised by the inspector general. But I will be reviewing the report, and I will be talking to the director of the FBI just to make sure that that in fact is the case. But that is my understanding.

SEN. PRYOR: Great. Yeah, if you could -- if that is not correct, or if you check back on that, and if you have a concern there, I wish you would check back with us on that.

ATTY. GEN. HOLDER: I will do that.

SEN. PRYOR: Thank you very much.

Thank you.

SEN. MIKULSKI: Thank you, Senator Pryor.

I just want to comment. On June 4th we are going to hold our FBI hearing. And the committee will do something different this year. We will hold both the public hearing on the public programs of the FBI. But as you know after the terrible attack of 9/11 we gave the responsibility of being an agency within the agency a significant national security responsibility. The committee has observed over the years, we can't ask those questions in a public setting, one of which would be the greater detail that the gentleman just raised that we need to pursue. So we will have a public hearing with the FBI. We gave the responsibility of being an agency within an agency a significant national security responsibility.



Skip to top

Help us stay free for all your Fellow Americans

Just $5 from everyone reading this would do it.

Thank You!

You are about to be redirected to a secure checkout page.

Please note:

The total order amount will read $0.01. This is a card processor fee. Please know that a recurring donation of the amount and frequency that you selected will be processed and initiated tomorrow. You may see a one-time charge of $0.01 on your statement.

Continue to secure page »

Back to top