- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty yesterday said the Justice Department, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, has harnessed its full resources here and abroad to “prevent such destruction and devastation from happening again.”

“The Department of Justice has developed a strong record of success in the war on terrorism. Our prosecutions have run the gamut and affirmed that the fight against terrorism is the department’s highest priority,” Mr. McNulty said during a speech at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“We have prosecuted and convicted violent terrorists; supporters and financiers of terrorism; and persons who came to our shores and used our freedoms to advance terrorist causes.”

Mr. McNulty, a former U.S. attorney in Virginia, where he oversaw many of the government’s more significant terrorism prosecutions, said the department is committed to a new strategy of prevention — from one of predominantly reaction to one of being proactive.

He said the government is determined to prosecute cases immediately when an investigation reveals both a risk to national security and a violation of its laws. He said this “aggressive, proactive and preventative course” is the only acceptable response.

“Awaiting an attack is not an option,” Mr. McNulty said. “That’s why the Department of Justice is doing everything in its power to identify risks to our nation’s security at the earliest stage possible and to respond.”

Since the September 11 attacks, the department has brought charges against 435 persons and won 253 convictions in 45 different judicial districts nationwide, Mr. McNulty said. Many of those charged are still awaiting trial.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, he said, the department’s preventative mission requires broader vision, including the reality that persons presenting security risks may be living here under fake identities.

Those who evade immigration and identify-theft laws, he said, make a “conscious choice to conceal who they are” and if these deceptions are connected to terrorist activity, the department must respond.

“It takes little foresight to envision the rightful criticisms that would be leveled at the Department of Justice if, in response to a terrorist incident, we looked back after the fact and discovered the offenders were in this country after having succeeded in committing immigration or identity-fraud crimes, and we were in a position to do something about it.”

He added that the department must continue to “adapt our technologies, approaches and strategies to the ever-changing means and methods of those planning the next attack.”

“In our prosecutions, too, we continue to face difficult challenges, including how most effectively to use classified information without compromising our nation’s security.”

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