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Burke really believing we have to maximize this whole effort. And
Mr. Chairman, I have other questions, but I will wait.
Before I yield, we are going to, I am told, have a vote in 2 minutes at 11 o'clock and then one at 11:30 and then one at 12 o'clock. So what I am going to do is yield to my Republican colleague and then go vote, and come back here so that we will always have someone here prepared to question.
Now, have you all decided who is next?
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR GRASSLEY Senator GRASSLEY. First of all, I want to welcome you here. It is always nice to have dialogue with you on these very controversial issues that face us. I want to also say I appreciate the fine job you
I are doing as Attorney General. I also want to say that I appreciate the additional resources that you were able to provide to the U.S. attorneys in my State in the war on drugs. We think we will be able to make good use of them and show that your faith in our U.S. attorneys is well put and the resources will be well spent.
As you know, Mr. Attorney General, several of my colleagues recently wrote to you about, as we put it, “pulling the plug' on the American Bar Association's role in judicial selection. In the wake of recent ABA's positions on a host of controversial issues, you had suggested and I got this from a Wall Street Journal editorial, where it says that Attorney General Thornburgh said the ABA votes on abortion and civil rights bills give the organization-to quote you—“trappings of a conventional lobbying group.” And it wonders whether judicial candidates must now "tow the line" on the ABA views.
Well, I want you to know that I agree with you except I would call them a "liberal" lobbying group.
So I want to ask you, don't you think it is about time that we simply thank the ABA for their past service, give them a gold watch, and then retire them?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I am speechless.
Senator, you are quite correct in noting my concern about the continued role of the Standing Committee on the Judiciary of the American Bar Association in advising the President and Members of the Senate on the judicial qualifications of particular individuals, and it is a concern that I have raised with the leadership of the American Bar Association and hope to have them address.
My concerns are that by taking positions on issues that are as contentious as the issues of abortion, firearms, legislation, the death penalty, the various civil rights decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court, the American Bar Association may be at least creating the appearance that their assessment of potential judicial candidates will rise or fall on the degree to which those candidates agree with or disagree with the American Bar Association's official positions in these areas. This comes perilously close to the kind of
litmus test which all of us agree is inappropriate in the assessment of potential judicial candidates.
You will recall that we had an extensive discussion with the American Bar Association leaders and, in fact, with you and your colleagues about the fact that they had included at the beginning of the 1980's an expansion of their professed role to go beyond the judgment with respect to character, integrity, and fitness to serve in a judicial capacity, to, in fact, examine areas of political or philosophic views of the candidate.
After our discussion, after the hearings which were held by this committee, that languages was stricken from the guidelines that the American Bar Association had established beginning in the 1980's. And I felt that we had at least achieved a breathing spell during which we could assess the performance of the standing committee on the judiciary in its proper, and I must say helpful, role of getting the views of local lawyers, judges, and citizens on the judicial temperament and the fitness of prospective candidates.
The most recent developments undermine my confidence in our having resolved that issue, and it is for that reason that I have raised the matter anew with the American Bar Association. I am very concerned, having heard from many lawyers and judges and Members of both Houses of the Congress, that if the American Bar Association persists on staking out positions on highly controversial political issues, that they may erode and, indeed, may destroy their effectiveness in providing nonpartisan, nonpolitical assistance and support to the President and the Members of the Senate as they assess judicial candidates.
Now, I must say in all fairness that under Ralph Lancaster's leadership, the American Bar Association standing committee on the judiciary has provided a very helpful service to us in processing prospective judicial nominees for the President and for the Members. But my concern is, as I stated, that at the very least that effectiveness can be very seriously undermined by the appearance that the American Bar Association is as a group-not the committee but as a group-calling upon judicial nominees to tow the line with regard to the ABA position or else face a potential for nonconsideration as a judge.
Senator GRASSLEY. Well, I respect your judgment, but I am not so sure but what the answer you just gave me, since you are expressing that you are very concerned about it, that you aren't setting yourself up like you did before where they will give you some assurances. Assurances from the ABA don't reassure me any more, and I don't think they ought to reassure you any more. This is an organization that for many years has reassured us that they didn't take ideology into account, and then, you know, we caught them redhanded with what they are doing. Then they deny it, while they are curiously saying they wouldn't do it again. And I think we have another example that they have done it again.
You know, the assurances from the ABA remind me of what they say about people who are going through their third or fourth marriage. It is a triumph of hope over experience. And I am running out of hope, and I think we ought to learn from the experiWell, let me go on to another matter that is closer to the people of my State. That is, we are all concerned about drug abuse. Obviously we all are. Coming from a largely rural State, of course, I am worried about drug abuse in rural America. Some critics of the national drug control strategy contend that it does not contain a rural action plan to lend the heartland the weapons that it needs to win the war against drugs. In fact, say these critics, the strategy mentions rural America only in passing and sends the signal that drug prosecution in the heartland is spotty, at best.
The people in my State are ready to fight this war. They are ready to use all of their own available resources. As for resources they cannot come up with themselves, they want to be sure that they receive a fair share. I would appreciate knowing what the Department is prepared to do to meet the commitment to fight the drug war in rural America, not just Iowa but rural America generally.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. Senator, you may recall that last August we issued a report prepared at my request by the U.S. attorneys in all 94 judicial
districts on the business structure of the drug organizations in the United States, what we called our Dun & Bradstreet of drug trafficking organizations.
One of the central messages of that report, which we rendered to the President and to the Director of the National Drug Control Policy Office, was that this is a problem that is nationwide. It is not confined to our inner cities or our suburbs. It affects rural America. And to underscore that phenomenon, Chuck Larson, the distinguished U.S. attorney from Cedar Rapids, joined us at the event that surrounded the release of that report.
I can say that I have had recent occasion to visit in both Cedar Rapids and Des Moines and discuss with the U.S. attorneys there their concerns about effective participation in the effort to deal with the drug problem in Iowa, for example, as a more rural area, and met with Governor Bransford and spoke with the leaders of the State's efforts.
I think we all recognize that there is a very important partnership effort that has to be undertaken, that in many cases, the street level, smaller drug organizations simply are beyond the reach of Federal law enforcement capabilities, given the present levels of staffing. That is why the Drug Enforcement Administration has created and proposes to create under this year's budget additional joint State-local task forces which make use of DEA agents as a catalyst for more effective work by State and local agents. That is also why the President's budget this year and for the year upcoming proposes increases in the amount of funding available for use at the State level.
When I was in Iowa, as you know, I carried your message that the amount of Federal funding to aid in Iowa was being increased threefold during this year for use as the State saw fit.
I suppose I must acknowledge that there are bound to be efforts in this country which are going to feel short-changed, so long as there is not an infinite amount of resources to spend on the drug effort. But I can also say to you that, through travel and discussion with our U.S. attorneys and DEA and FBI people throughout the United States, I hope to keep as aware and attuned as possible to
what those needs are, so that I can meet the management challenge of using our resources in a way that produces the best result for those people.
I do not think, as some have suggested, that would necessarily be served by building in specific allocations into legislative directions as to how the DĚA or FBI or the U.S. attorneys should allocate their resources. That has already been done on a limited basis, of course, in the high-intensity drug trafficking area legislation and we will see how that works. But I ask for the flexibility and the vote of confidence from you and your colleagues to let us try to use the resources we have in the best possible way, and I assure you we will make that effort just as diligently as we can.
Mr. GRASSLEY. My time is up.
Senator DECONCINI. Mr. Attorney General, let me address one quick question here. I introduced, on March 7, S. 2250, which is the legislation dealing with major recommendations from the National Advisory Commission on Law Enforcement, that you played a major role in, and I thank you for the time you put in, your office and the other agencies under Justice.
The legislation will go a long way to remedy many of the problems identified by the Commission as we escalate the war on drugs, that you are committed to. It seems to me we need to address this. I want to know, Mr. Attorney General, have you had an opportunity to look at S. 2250, the Federal Law Enforcement Pay Reform Act of 1990, which takes those recommendations, and do you support it or can you support it and will the administration be doing something to help pass this bill this year?
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I have not had a chance to look at the legislation specifically, but if it embodies, as you indicate, the recommendations of the National Law Enforcement Committee, I can pledge to you that I will be as effective a spokesman within the administration as possible, to see that those recommendations are implemented.
We face a very serious situation with regard to the pay and benefits available to law enforcement officials across the board and we are going to begin to pay a very serious price in not only the inability to recruit people, to fill the positions that the Congress has authorized, but, perhaps of greater importance, to obtain those experienced, sophisticated investigators and prosecutors whose need is especially acute in dealing with complicated money laundering cases, with organized crime cases and white collar fraud cases, where you simply cannot put fresh agents or fresh prosecutors, no matter how talented, into the breach without that seasoning process. I commend you, Senator, for your attention to this matter.
Senator DECONCINI. Mr. Attorney General, would you look at this legislation and see if it does
Attorney General THORNBURGH. I certainly will. I will accept Senator DECONCINI. I think it does, at least that was the purpose of it and we need some forceful action in the administration, if we are going to try to do something this year.
I think we could do something, if the administration would get behind it, or, if they do not like something about it, what we can do. It seems important enough to me to act on.
Attorney General THORNBURGH. We hope to address that. I believe the Commission's report finally will be delivered this month
Senator DECONCINI. That is right.
Attorney General THORNBURGH [continuing]. And then we will have a specific proposal to deal with.
Senator DECONCINI. If you would take a look at this legislation to see if it falls
in those guidelines. Attorney General THORNBURGH. We certainly will.
Senator DECONCINI. We are going to take a recess until Senator Biden or Senator Heflin returns. It should be about 5 minutes, Mr. Attorney General.
OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR SPECTER Senator SPECTER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Attorney General, I compliment you on the appointment of John Dunne, the new Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and I would like to discuss with you for a few moments the MOVE case in Philadelphia, which resulted in destruction of a city block and many deaths.
It is a matter which I know you are familiar with. It is a matter which I have discussed with a variety of Justice Department officials over the years. I raised it with Mr. Dennis when he was up for confirmation and with Mr. Lucas and again with Mr. Dunne. I had asked Mr. Dunne to review the case and he has moved ahead on that and we had a brief discussion yesterday. The concerns I have about it turn on the dropping of the incendiary and the failure to put out the fire and a good many other matters.
I just wanted to call it to your attention this morning, because the statute of limitations is about to run. I had written to you about that a few months ago. It occurred on May 13, 1985, and I do not think it is right for any comment by you at this point until Mr. Dunne finishes his work, but I did want to highlight it, because I may be coming back to you, if, as and when that occurs. He is going to re-review the matter and he has asked me to provide information, but at the time we may be very close to the statute of limitations.
Mr. Attorney General, I would like to raise a number of points with you. One was recently called to my attention involving a very complicated legal situation involving the Davis-Bacon interpretation, where you have the distinction between a leasing and a purchase, with Davis-Bacon applying to purchase by the Federal Government, and there was a decision by the Department of Labor Wage Appeals Board which said that a lease was within purview of
a the act.
Then, there was an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice before you became Attorney General, so it does not have your own personal imprimatur. The matter was then litigated in the district court for the District of Columbia, and