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Remembering 9/11
September 9, 2011 Posted by

The Department of Justice is marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks today and throughout the weekend with a number of events. This morning department employees gathered together in the Great Hall for a shared moment of silence led by Attorney General Holder.

The Attorney General addresses the employees gathered in the Great Hall to remember and honor the victims of 9/11.
The Attorney General addresses the employees gathered in the Great Hall to remember and honor the victims of 9/11.

Later in the morning, the Attorney General attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

The Attorney General attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

The Attorney General attends a wreath-laying ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial’s 9/11 Commemorative Ceremony.

This morning, as we reflect on the profound sacrifices and contributions of the many law enforcement officers and military service members who have risen to the challenge of securing our nation over the last decade – let us also reaffirm the enduring legacy of those we have lost: a nation that is not only safer, but stronger, than ever before…Let us carry on their unfinished work and strive – in their honor – to promote, not only safety and security, but also peace – and, above all, justice.   And – as we leave this place today – let us do everything in our power to ensure that – in our own time, in the lives of our children, and in the work of future generations – the stories, the memories, and the rich legacies of those we lost on September 11th will never be forgotten.

Finally, this afternoon, the Attorney General joined current and former Department of Justice employees for the Department of Justice 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. 

Attorney General Holder speaks at the Justice Department 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. he is joined onstage by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott.

Attorney General Holder speaks at the Justice Department 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony. he is joined onstage by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott.

On September 11th, 2001, when those towers were reduced to rubble – along with the western side of the Pentagon, and a patch of land in rural Pennsylvania – and as so many lives were cut short – we learned, in the most painful of ways, about the human capacity for evil.   But in the moments, months, and years since, we have seen – in the compassion and generosity of people across the world – the human capacity for good.   We also have witnessed our nation’s ability to transform sorrow into strength, into unity, into resiliency – and into a nationwide call to service…

…Despite all that was lost and destroyed on September 11th – when I think back on that terrible day, these are the qualities that shine through – at the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in the skies above Shanksville, Pennsylvania.   These are the defining attributes that brought our nation together – and will continue to make this country an example of strength.

 Since America’s earliest days – even in the darkest of moments – the citizens of this country have proven that – no matter the challenge, no matter the obstacle, no matter the differences that, at times, can divide us from one another – we are, and always will be, one nation.   One people.   Conceived in liberty; dedicated to the highest ideals of justice; and striving – always – to carry forward the difficult but essential work of building a more perfect union.

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson, and 9/11 family members and victim advocates, Carie Lemack and Major Abraham Scott, also spoke at the event.

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, Attorney General Holder will join President Obama and other Cabinet members at Ground Zero where they will honor the men, women and children whose lives were abruptly ended on that autumn day.

To learn more about how the Department of Justice is remembering 9/11 and how we continue to remain vigilant to protect Americans and the American way of life, visit justice.gov/911

The American Jobs Act
September 9, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Attorney General Eric Holder.

Last night, President Obama laid out a bold, comprehensive plan to save and create jobs, to advance our continuing recovery efforts, and to restore our nation’s economic strength.  In the coming days, as Congress considers legislation aimed at accomplishing these goals – and as a robust national debate unfolds – it’s more important than ever to remember that economic conditions across the country are inextricably linked to the security of our communities, and the safety of the American people.

That’s why a central component of the President’s plan includes several proposals designed to preserve – and to create – critical jobs for members of the first responder community – including police officers, firefighters, and other essential public safety personnel.  At a time when federal, local, state, and tribal authorities have been forced to contend with rapidly growing demands and increasingly limited budgets, this support could hardly be more necessary – or more urgent.

By providing basic resources to keep cops on the beat and firefighters on the job, we can reinforce local departments whose ranks have been depleted by budget constraints.  We can maintain the core emergency response capabilities that so many Americans depend on every day.  And we can reaffirm our commitment to keeping our neighborhoods safe from crime and terror.

As we look to the future, my colleagues and I across the Justice Department – and throughout the Administration – will continue to work diligently and collaboratively to prevent and combat violent crime, to protect the American people from an array of global threats, and to safeguard the sacred rights of all those we are privileged to serve.  The American Jobs Act represents an essential step forward in these efforts – and will also provide the enhanced resources and authorities that are necessary not only to ensure public safety and create jobs, but to increase fairness in employment and hiring practices from coast to coast.

In moving ahead with this work, we don’t have a moment to lose.  The time for decisive action is now.  The American Jobs Act provides law enforcement officers and other critical public safety officials with the support – and the resources – they desperately need.

A Message from Attorney General Eric Holder
September 8, 2011 Posted by

A message from Attorney General Eric Holder on the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks.

Two Affordable Care Act Cases Dismissed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals
September 8, 2011 Posted by

Today, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Commonwealth of Virginia v. Kathleen Sebelius and Liberty University v. Geithner cases challenging the Affordable Care Act.  The Department of Justice issued the following statement: 

 “We welcome the dismissal of these two challenges to the Affordable Care Act.  We also continue to appreciate the rulings of other courts on the merits upholding the constitutionality of the Act. Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed as well.  We will continue to vigorously defend the health care reform statute in any litigation challenging it, and we believe we will prevail.”

For more information about the department’s ongoing defense of the Affordable Care Act, visit justice.gov/healthcare.

We’re Safer Post-9/11
September 8, 2011 Posted by

The following, authored by Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, and James Clapper the Director of National Intelligence, originally appeared in USA Today.

All of us who are old enough remember exactly where we were on September 11, 2001, at the moment we first learned that terrorists had taken control of commercial jetliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pa.

On that day, our lives, our country, and our world fundamentally changed.

Today, a decade later, we remember the loss of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the attacks, honor the firefighters, police, and many other first responders, who showed such courage and conviction on that tragic day, and take stock of the fundamental changes that have reshaped our country and improved security for all Americans. While there are no guarantees — and there never will be — we have accomplished much to minimize the risk that a successful terror attack like 9/11 will ever occur on American soil.

Ten years ago, our intelligence and law enforcement communities were aware of potential threats to the homeland from terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda, but we lacked the focus necessary to anticipate and prevent the attack. Sharing essential information to confront this threat was impeded by long-standing cultural, legal and institutional barriers, stove-piped government organizations, and a lack of coordination and cooperation.

In the decade since 9/11, an unprecedented international partnership has emerged. Together, the United States and our allies have captured or killed most of those responsible for the events of 9/11; we continue to pursue those who remain at large; and the organization that orchestrated these attacks, while still a serious threat, has been significantly weakened.

Today, we are working together as never before to share information, tactics, and training to fight terrorists and prevent them from putting their plans into practice, while affirming our support for security, prosperity and universal rights around the globe. We owe a great debt to our men and women in uniform who are working tirelessly and effectively in many places around the world to protect us from harm.

At home, we have made equally important strides to build the capacity to protect our country and the American people in an age of rapidly evolving threats, and we have made critical enhancements to our nation’s counterterrorism capabilities.

New federal agencies like the Director of National Intelligence and the National Counterterrorism Center, and a robust information-sharing environment, have strengthened analysis, improved terrorist watch lists and databases, and created a “need to share” culture, leading to enhanced coordination, tools, and capabilities. Indeed, the entire Intelligence Community is producing better intelligence than at any time in history.

In 2009 and 2010, as a result of investigations by the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, more defendants were charged in federal court with the most serious terrorism violations than in any two-year period in our history. And the Department of Homeland Security, created in 2003 as part of the largest reorganization of the federal government since the start of the Cold War, is working daily with its federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector partners to enhance the security of communities across the country. One recent study found that between 1999 and 2009, 86 terrorist plots against Americans have been foiled.

Our nation has continued to strengthen and expand information sharing, intelligence, and public awareness efforts since 9/11. We have supported the creation of 72 state and local fusion centers, where information about threats can be gathered, analyzed, and shared among federal, state, local, tribal, territorial, and private sector partners. We have expanded the number of Joint Terrorism Task Forces (JTTFs) around the country from 35 to 104 and increased the number of JTTF personnel from roughly 1,000 to nearly 4,500. In addition, the Justice Department has implemented a series of far-reaching legal, structural and cultural changes over the past decade, including the creation of the Department’s National Security Division and the FBI’s National Security Branch, to more effectively combat national security threats through intelligence.

We have established a new Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, which trains law enforcement across our country to recognize behaviors and indicators related to terrorism-related crime. It also standardizes how those observations are documented, analyzed and shared.

We have worked to engage the broadest possible set of partners in security by expanding the “If You See Something, Say Something™” campaign, a nationwide effort originally implemented by New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to increase public awareness and the reporting of suspicious activity to the authorities.

In short, we have created a much stronger framework for managing threats to our nation. The capabilities that we have today are far greater than what existed 10 years ago, and they have helped us thwart numerous terrorist plots, from the attempt to bomb New York City subways to the foiled attacks against air cargo, Times Square, and a parade in Seattle. And these capabilities continue to contribute to the security of the American people every day.

Make no mistake: Our nation is stronger and more secure than it was on 9/11, better prepared to confront the challenges we face, and more resilient than ever before. But despite these improvements, we do not have the luxury to rest on our laurels. There are still terrorist groups around the world who wish us ill, and are plotting attacks against us.

Our success in confronting these threats in the future will depend on those who work on the frontlines, day and night, at home and abroad, to keep us safe. As important, it will depend on the American people and our collective determination to stand firm against threats, united in our resolve, free from fear, and resilient should we be attacked again.

It is Right to Fight Discrimination in Lending
September 6, 2011 Posted by

The following post appears courtesy of Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. It originally appeared as a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal.

Mary Kissel’s “Justice’s New War Against Lenders” (op-ed, Aug. 31) accuses the Justice Department of politicized enforcement of fair lending laws and claims that the department’s fair lending enforcement practices would create another housing crisis.

Contrary to Ms. Kissel’s assertion, the Justice Department’s focus on fair lending enforcement is precisely what is needed to ensure that all qualified borrowers have equal access to fair and responsible lending, as is required by law. Common-sense consumer protection and promoting a sound climate for lending go hand in hand and are inextricably intertwined. The absence of effective consumer protections and the dearth of meaningful federal enforcement in recent years not only hurt communities across the country, but also brought about staggering losses in the industry and undermined the safety and soundness of so many lending institutions.

The suggestion that the department, as part of its settlements, is forcing banks to lower their underwriting standards and make loans to unqualified borrowers is simply wrong. Our settlement agreements repeatedly refer to extensions of credit being made to “qualified applicants” only and make clear that no provision in the agreements require banks to make an unsafe or unsound loan.

What Ms. Kissel and other critics refuse to acknowledge is that the failure of some lending institutions to offer credit to qualified borrowers—who were disqualified for loans not because of their creditworthiness but solely based on race—in minority neighborhoods on the same basis as qualified borrowers in nonminority neighborhoods, was one of the factors that contributed to the subprime lending boom and subsequent crisis. When good lenders fail to serve entire communities, it creates a vacuum ready to be filled by predatory players.

All qualified home buyers should have access to sustainable credit without being subject to illegal discrimination. The Justice Department will unapologetically continue to ensure they can do so.

POSTED IN: Civil Rights Division  |  PERMALINK
 
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