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October 12, 2001
MURDERED AUSA IN SEATTLE:
Before I begin, let me first make an announcement about a tragic loss the Department of Justice family suffered last night. An Assistant United States Attorney in the Western District of Washington, Tom Whales, was shot and killed last night. Tom had worked for the US Attorneys office in Seattle for the last 18 years. At this time, this case is being investigated and we have no knowledge of motive or further details. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Toms family and to the U.S. Attorneys office in the Western District of Washington.
I have several announcements to make today regarding the continuing efforts of the Department of Justice to ensure the safety and security of Americans in light of the continuing terrorist threat.
First, a federal grand jury in Phoenix, Arizona, returned yesterday and unsealed today a two-count indictment against a Tempe man, Faisal Michael Al Salmi, for giving false statements to the FBI in connection with our investigation into the terrorist attacks of September 11.
Mr. Al Salmi is in federal custody in New York and will be returned to Arizona to face charges.
This indictment serves as a reminder that the Department of Justice will bring the full weight of the law upon those who attempt to impede or hinder this investigation.
Lying or attempting to conceal information from federal investigators will not be tolerated. We will spare no legal means to identify, locate and incapacitate terrorists and those who aid and abet their criminal activity.
Second, the United States Attorneys office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania filed a motion yesterday charging that Argenbright Holdings, also known as Securicor, violated the terms of a sentence it received less than a year ago for an astonishing pattern of crimes that could have directly jeopardized public safety.
The motion concludes that Argenbright Holdings continues to violate laws that protect the safety of Americans who travel by commercial airlines.
The Department of Justice investigation reveals that Argenbright Holdings has committed new FAA regulatory violations at 13 airports throughout the United States, including Washington, D.C. (Dulles International and Reagan National), Boston (Logan International), New York (LaGuardia), Los Angeles, Trenton, Detroit, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Columbus, Dallas-Fort Worth, Seattle, and Cedar Rapids.
Our investigation shows Argenbright Holdings has hired pre-departure screeners who have disqualifying criminal convictions, including convictions for theft, burglary and illegal drug possession, and that Argenbright Holdings made false statements about its employees' backgrounds.
Members of the Justice Department have conferred with the Inspector General of the Department of Transportation and with authorities at the Federal Aviation Administration. The Inspector General is conducting an assessment of procedures and practices, operations and personnel at other airports.
In the event of non-compliance, we will prosecute aggressively to secure the safety of the public.
Americans who pass through our nations airports and travel on our nations airlines must and will be protected. Security companies at our airports will be held accountable for their actions. The Justice Department will enforce the law fully and vigorously to protect Americans.
Finally, I commend the United States Senate for passing the Administrations anti-terrorism bill with overwhelming support, 96 to 1, to give law enforcement the additional anti-terrorism tools we need to deter and disrupt terrorism. The House of Representatives should act today also.
Congress needs to send a message to terrorists that they will find no safe haven in America. Again, our anti-terrorism task forces need tough new laws now to defeat terrorists. I ask the congressional leadership to send the President a bill to sign right away. Please dont delay; we need these anti-terrorism tools now.
While the Department of Justices actions represent the governments ongoing efforts to protect the public, Americans must be mindful that the threat of additional terrorist acts is real. The alert issued yesterday by the FBI should promote caution, not incite alarm.
All possible measures are being taken to detect and prevent future attacks, to both incapacitate and deter would-be terrorists. Americans can assist in this effort by going about their lives with a heightened sense of vigilance and a renewed sense of responsibility for their neighbors, co-workers and communities.
Each of us is affected by the threat of terror that continues to darken our country. Each of us can play a part in mitigating this threat. Thank you.
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