Some people in our country seem more concerned about respecting the dignity and privacy of criminals and terrorists than they are about having an airport full of people obliterated, or a completely booked hotel blown to bits. Perhaps they think, Let's not get so upset about attacks on our embassies or military bases. Maybe, they surmise, the terrorists have good reason for attacking us. We have no right to be harassing innocent people in our country. For some people, not even the grotesque images that filled our television screens after al Qaeda's blatant attacks on 9/11 seem enough to wake them out of their utopia feel-good world.
Since lives and liberties depend upon clarity, not obfuscation, and reason, not hyperbole, let me take this opportunity today to be clear: Each action taken by the Department of Justice, as well as the war crimes commissions considered by the president and the Department of Defense, is carefully drawn to target a narrow class of individuals- terrorists. Our legal powers are targeted at terrorists. Our investigation is focused on terrorists. Our prevention strategy targets the terrorist threat.
Soldiers defending a country at war are not subject to the rules of procedure designed for court trials. For example, if a soldier encounters an enemy, under internationally agreed upon rules of war, that soldier can take whatever action is necessary to protect himself and neutralize his enemy, whether it involves capturing and detaining the enemy or killing him on the spot.
Do not allow your sorrow or your rage to become hostility toward people on the basis of their ethnicity or their religious views. That is unacceptable; it is out of bounds, and if you break the law, we will prosecute you for it.
I have to chuckle sometimes when I am painted as "hard-nosed." In truth, our Justice Department wasn't nearly as aggressive as Roosevelt's. And our respect for civil liberties was far more extensive than the response following Pearl Harbor. Yes, we were tough, but we always operated within the law; it was never our policy or practice to detain any noncombatant without charges. In our conduct, we never approached the limits of the law as closely as Roosevelt did.
To me, capital punishment is a form of societal self-defense. It should not be employed indiscriminately, but in cases of the most heinous crimes, the death penalty may be the only appropriate punishment. Some people believe it is right to take a life to save the life of someone else, but they would not vote to take the life of a convicted criminal, no matter how horrible the crime. Others believe that killing another person for any reason is simply wrong. I respect those opinions, but I disagree with them. I'm convinced that government has a duty to promote community defense. The death penalty, when applied in appropriate cases, can be a strong deterrent to crime. It is certainly a deterrent to the convicted criminal sentenced to death, and it is also a deterrent to other potential capital offenders.
It is not enough that we have a guilty defendant. We must have an innocent system as well.
I'm convinced that faith is a matter of inspiration, not a matter of imposition. It is something a person models rather than mandates. Faith does not impose itself on other people. Imposition usually sacrifices somebody else; it seeks to injure or extort others. This is what the terrorist does in an attempt to impose his religion on the world.
It wasn't that people were antagonistic; it was more that they were accustomed to doing their work in a certain way, and change always causes some people to be uncomfortable.
I decided this early on at Justice: if the traditional way was the most effective way of doing something, then we'd maintain it. But if it was not functioning at optimum levels, we would be doing the country a disservice by continuing to do things "like we've always done them."
Politics disabuses a person of the notion that you can please everybody. It is an inescapable fact that people will always have different opinions, and some people are going to disagree. Sooner or later, a person constructs his or her own "platform" and stands on it, regardless of what others think, say, or do. It is also true that some people delight in another person's demise.
To me, failure is not fatal unless you quit; getting knocked down is not embarrassing unless you allow it to keep you down.
Through it all, I've learned to trust that God does indeed have a plan and purpose for me. Trust doesn't come into play when you can figure everything out; that's mere reason. Trust operates when you can't understand why circumstances or events happen. That's where it takes faith to believe that God knows what is best for our lives.
A trustee has a responsibility to guard the assets of others with a higher degree of care than he does his own.
My family has never suggested to me that my identity or value to them depended on my station in life. I knew that they did not consider me any more or less valuable because I held some political office. They valued me as a husband and father, whether or not I won an election. Nor did they regard holding office on Capitol Hill or in the Missouri statehouse as the epitome of success. Quite the contrary, my family had endured numerous personal sacrifices because of my public positions.