December 19, 2007

OPENING STATEMENT DURING SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CONFIRMATION HEARING

The Committee will come to order.   I thank Chairman Leahy for asking me to chair today's hearing.

 

Today, the Committee holds a confirmation hearing on four Department of Justice nominees and one nominee for the Executive Office of the President.

 

Ondray Harris to be Director of Community Relations Service;

David Hagy, to be Director of the National Institute of Justice;

Scott Burns, to be Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy;

Cynthia Dyer, to be Director of the Violence Against Women Office; and

Nathan Hochman, to be Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division at DOJ.

 

I am pleased that the Committee is holding this hearing in order to review the nominees for these important positions at the Department of Justice.   It is very important that we restore leadership, professionalism and independence to all areas in the Department of Justice.

 

Each of these agencies and offices we are reviewing today holds an important role in American society.

 

The Community Relations Service division is the Department of Justice's "peacemaker" for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin. Created by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, CRS is the only Federal agency dedicated to assist State and local units of government, private and public organizations, and community groups with preventing and resolving racial and ethnic tensions, incidents, and civil disorders, and in restoring racial stability and harmony. Today, however, it is with great sadness that our country has seen a rash of incidents involving the hanging of nooses in this country.   These incidents are a painful reminder of just how far we have to go.   I have been disappointed with the Department of Justice's recent lack of attention to what has become an epidemic of hate crimes and intimidation occurring nationwide from Jena, Louisiana to College Park, Maryland.

 

The National Institute of Justice is charged with researching crime control and justice issues. NIJ provides objective, independent, evidence-based knowledge and tools to meet the challenges of crime and justice, particularly at the State and local levels. One challenge the NIJ will have to address is the recent rise in gangs and gang activity in the United States.

 

The Violence Against Women Office is charged with reducing violence against women, and to administer justice for and strengthen services to all victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

 

The National Drug Control Policy in the Executive Office of the President establishes policies, priorities, and objectives for the Nation's drug control program. The goals of the program are to reduce illicit drug use, manufacturing, and trafficking, drug-related crime and violence, and drug-related health consequences. We have serious problems with drug abuse in America, and just last week we learned of more examples of drug abuse by our role models in professional baseball.   Over the past year the Committee has passed legislation to regulate online pharmacies, and has held a hearing on the use of electronic prescriptions of controlled substances by doctors.

 

Lastly, the Tax Division of the Department of Justice is responsible for representing the United States and its officers in most civil and criminal litigation that concerns or relates to the internal revenue laws. The Division works closely with the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service. This is one of the few agencies of government that provides a greater return on its investment.   Its pursuit of tax fraud and tax evasion cases results in a greater return of funds to the Treasury than in its expenditures.

 

I thank all the witnesses for coming today, and I look forward to hearing your answers to the Committee's questions.   Any written statements of witnesses will be made part of the Committee record.