Remarks Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey at Farewell Ceremony

WASHINGTON , Jan. 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following are prepared remarks by Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey : Good morning. Thank you all for being here. Before I begin my remarks, I want to take a moment to specifically...


I tried during my tenure, brief though it was, to venture outside Main Justice and to visit as many components, agencies and U.S. Attorneys' Offices as I could. During each of those visits, I found as talented and dedicated a group as one could imagine, and I came away thankful that these are the people who are the face of Justice to most of the outside world.

In this building, of course, I found no less. I had the great, if sometimes daunting, pleasure to work alongside a group of the most talented legal professionals anyone could ever hope to work with -- people who could have led more comfortable lives in the private sector, certainly more lucrative and less stressful lives but, who chose instead to apply their considerable talents and abilities here with high hearts and high standards. For that too, I am deeply grateful, both as a DOJ colleague and as an American.

It has been an eventful 14 months, some events entirely satisfying, others perhaps less so -- but all with some form of satisfaction. In the first category, we helped to set up an institutional framework that will protect our national security while preserving our nation's commitment to civil rights and civil liberties. We helped to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to address modern forms of communication used by our enemies, and to plug other intelligence gaps. And we put in place new, consolidated guidelines for domestic FBI operations. Those guidelines will help the Bureau to remain the first-class crime solving agency it always has been. They also will continue its transformation into a first-class intelligence-gathering organization and a full-fledged member of the intelligence community that has helped assure that this country has not suffered a terrorist attack since September 11, 2001 .

Another event in the first, entirely satisfying, category was the Department's part in last November's historic elections. The Department plays a major role in ensuring both access to the ballot and the integrity of the ballot, so that elections reflect the will of the people, and so that all Americans can maintain confidence in our system of government. That work is not only important, but also, in its own way, perilous. It is obvious to the point of tautology to say elections are inherently political events, but with that comes a not always obvious danger that we ourselves can be drawn into partisan territory.

Yet we managed to navigate these perils successfully by doing what we do best: by disregarding the political pressures and inevitable criticisms, and by going only where, and so far as, the facts and law led us. Although Election Day is just that -- a day - for that one day to go smoothly, as this past election largely did, requires years of careful planning and hard work by many people in the Department, from the Civil Rights Division to the Criminal Division, from the U.S. Attorneys' Offices to the FBI.

As I suggested a few moments ago, not all of the news over the last 14 months was good news. We heard allegations, and saw revelations, of politically influenced functioning within the Department, principally in hiring, and of other deviations from established procedures and acceptable professional standards. Thankfully, we can draw a measure of satisfaction even from these painful episodes. After all, many of the revelations and solutions came from within the Department itself. And, in those cases where investigations have been warranted, the Department has shown that it is capable of conducting the necessary review of the conduct and practices of its own people and of others.

We have also responded to these troubling allegations by changing policies and procedures. We instituted rules that limit contact between the Department and the White House on ongoing cases; we restored the role of career lawyers in making hiring decisions in the Honors and Summer Law Intern Programs; and we took steps to ensure that hiring and recruitment decisions throughout the Department take place on the merits, and without regard for any improper consideration, be it politics, age, race or sexual orientation.