Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Federalist Society

WASHINGTON , Nov. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following are the remarks prepared for delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Federalist Society: Thank you for that introduction and for the...


Within the Department of Justice, the FBI made preventing terrorism its top priority and restructured its resources accordingly. Since September 11th , the FBI has transformed itself into a world-class intelligence agency, designed to detect and prevent attacks before they occur, rather than simply investigating them afterwards. The FBI has doubled the number of intelligence analysts and translators in its ranks, and opened 16 new offices overseas, including in Kabul and Baghdad . We created the FBI's new National Security Branch to bring together divisions responsible for counterterrorism and intelligence and counterespionage, and we made similar institutional reforms in establishing the National Security Division at the Department of Justice.

The Administration worked with Congress in reorganizing our government and with passing new laws to promote the collection and dissemination of critically important intelligence. Shortly after September 11th , Congress passed the Patriot Act to ensure that analysts and investigators could access the information they needed to protect our Nation, work together to "connect the dots," and pursue a strategy of prevention. And this year, Congress did the same for our intelligence professionals, passing bi-partisan legislation that modernizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to allow the intelligence community to quickly and effectively monitor terrorists' communications while ensuring respect for our civil liberties.

Taken together, the Administration's policies in the War on Terror represent nothing less than a fundamental reorganization of our government and will ensure that the next President has the tools he needs to continue to defend the country.

The Administration's strategy in defending the Nation from terrorist threats has not only been comprehensive, but has also been successful based on what matters the most: Since September 11th , Al Qaeda has not managed to launch a single act of terrorism in the United States . This is a remarkable achievement that no one could have predicted in the days following the September 11th attacks. The credit for that goes to many people, including many brave men and women in our armed forces, and many brave men and women in law enforcement and intelligence services, who put their lives at risk routinely in parts of the world most Americans, to their great comfort, will never encounter. Much of that credit also goes to the President; in this area, as in many others, leadership and resolve matter.

As the end of this Administration draws near, you would expect to hear broad praise for this success at keeping our Nation safe. Instead, I am afraid what we hear is a chorus with a rather more dissonant refrain. Instead of appreciation, or even a fair appraisal, of the Administration's accomplishments, we have heard relentless criticism of the very policies that have helped keep us safe. We have seen this in the media, we have seen this in the Congress, and we have heard it from the legal academy as well.

In some measure, those criticisms rest on a very dangerous form of amnesia that views the success of our counterterrorism efforts as something that undermines the justification for continuing them. In an odd way, we have become victims of our own success. In the eyes of these critics, if Al Qaeda has not struck our homeland for seven years, then perhaps it never posed much of a threat after all and we didn't need these counterterrorism policies.

Other critics question the premise -- almost universally accepted following the September 11th attacks -- that the United States is engaged in a war against Al Qaeda and other groups. Even more common is the casual assumption among many in media, political, and legal circles that the Administration's counterterrorism policies have come at the expense of the rule of law. I am quite familiar with these criticisms, having heard them myself during my tenure as Attorney General.

Now it is hardly surprising that the questions of how we confront the terrorism threat should generate vigorous debate. These questions are among the most complex and consequential that a democratic government can face. There is, understandably, passionate debate about where the legal lines are drawn in this new and very difficult conflict and, as a matter of policy, how close to those legal lines we should go.