The President also has nominated - and the Senate has confirmed - many other well-qualified judges throughout the Federal courts. Unfortunately, still other good and well-qualified people were denied the same opportunity. We have seen the nominations of skilled, experienced, and well-respected candidates delayed or frustrated through procedural tactics. Quite frequently, it has been hard for these nominees to receive a vote in the Senate or even a hearing before the Judiciary Committee. For those who never received a vote, or even a hearing, I offer my profound regret -- you deserved better.
Tonight, however, we should take note of our successes. Indeed, this Administration's judicial legacy includes 61 judges appointed to the courts of appeals and 261 judges appointed to the district courts. The President and the members of his Administration will leave office in January, but these good judges will remain in place, many for decades to come.
The Federalist Society should be proud of the role it played in supporting these judges, but it also should be proud of the basis on which it did so. As the members of this Society recognize, the core meaning of judicial independence is independence from the political pressures and fashions of the moment. Otherwise, judges become simply politicians who are independent only in the sense that they have life tenure and so are not subject to the discipline of the political process -- namely, elections. Although judges are appointed through a political process, once they take the oath, they are confined to exercising a power that is, under Article III, judicial only. Which is to say, one that should involve a faithful, not a fanciful, reading of the laws and the Constitution.
I want to turn to another subject, which I have taken from Day One to be my most solemn responsibility as Attorney General. That is ensuring that we put into place the institutions we need to keep our country safe from the continuing threat posed by Al Qaeda and other international terrorists.
On September 11th, 2001 , nineteen terrorists inflicted the most catastrophic attack on our homeland since Pearl Harbor . What made that attack so devastating was not simply the toll inflicted upon our country, but the idea that nineteen lightly armed terrorists could murder nearly 3,000 Americans. The reality of such asymmetric warfare required us to dramatically reconsider how we should confront the threat of international terrorism.
When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, when Al Qaeda attacked the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen and our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania , the United States deployed the FBI to the scene to collect evidence, pursue leads and; ultimately, indict and prosecute at least some of those responsible.
Following the September 11th attacks, however, it no longer seemed prudent to treat international terrorism solely as a criminal matter where suspects are pursued and prosecuted only after they have perpetrated a crime. Indeed, at the time of the September 11th attacks, Osama bin Laden was already under criminal indictment for his role in the embassy bombings. Instead, the United States recognized the attack of September 11th to be what it was: an act of war -- a war that had been declared years earlier by enemies of the United States , and indeed of civilized people everywhere. In response, this Nation, under our President, committed to a comprehensive offensive strategy against the terrorists abroad using every resource at our disposal -- military, intelligence, financial and law enforcement.
The U.S. military deployed to Afghanistan where Al Qaeda had found a safe haven within the confines of the brutal and inhumane regime of the Taliban. When our forces, or those of allies, captured members of the enemy, we detained them so that they could not simply return to the battlefield and, where we thought it appropriate, transferred them for detention to the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay .
At home, the Administration sought to reorganize and modernize our government to reflect the new priorities of the War on Terror. We brought domestic security agencies, which historically had been scattered throughout the Executive Branch, under the umbrella of a Department of Homeland Security, and we established a Director of National Intelligence to ensure that our intelligence agencies would work together in tracking terrorist threats and preventing new attacks.