Ashcroft Farewell Letter

Sent to the DOJ today:

Office of the Attorney General
November 9, 2004
Message from the Attorney General to Justice Department Employees

Nearly four years ago. in my first message to the Justice Community, I wrote to each of you of my goals for this noble Department: to "uphold the American justice tradition that strives to bring protection to the weak, freedom to the restrained, liberty to the oppressed, and security to all."

Today  I write  to you at the close of my time as the Attorney  General, gratified that together we have accomplished our goals.

On November 2nd, I submitted to the President my intention to resign from the office of Attorney General of the United States, effective upon confirmation of my successor. As I take leave of this high office, I am filled with gratitude to you, the men and women of the Department of Justice, for an extraordinary period of service that has ushered in an extraordinary era of justice and security for the American people. We live today in an America that is safer and stronger than ever before; an America where freedom is not a promise but a birthright, not a dream but a reality.

In partnership with the American people we have compiled a record of achievement that is remarkable if judged merely by peacetime standards. But for a time of war, your record is awe inspiring.

For three years since the worst attack in our nation’s history, and in defiance of all expectations, America has not endured another major terrorist attack. Violent crime is at its lowest rate in three decades. We have engineered double-digit reductions in the rates of sexual assault, robbery and assault. Gun crime prosecutions are at a record high and violent crimes committed with guns are at a record low. Drug use among the nation’s youth is declining. Corporate criminals are facing justice, and integrity has been restored to the nation’s marketplace. America’s values, as set forth in our Constitution, reflected in our laws, and cherished in our hearts, have been honored and defended.

Throughout our nation’s history – throughout the history of civilization – men and women have struggled to define and to achieve justice. The opening words of the Constitution tell us that "to establish justice" is one of the founding reasons for the United States.  Justice is the great striving of our nation, and the eternal hope of our hearts. But still we are left with the question: What is justice? After three decades of public service and four years as your Attorney General, I am confident in this answer: You are justice. You are the eyes that watch over the nation. You are the hands that uphold equal justice before the law. You are the feet on the street that nurture and protect our inalienable right to live in freedom. I join with the American people in humbled gratitude for your service to the nation.

Lastly, speaking for myself, I express my gratitude to God for the each day the sun rises on a free and safe America. For the past three years, my every working day has begun with a report – a catalog of the murderous acts being plotted against Americans, That we have passed these three years in safety and security is a credit to you.

But it would be the height of arrogance to assume we achieved this alone. The Psalms remind us: Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain," My friends and colleagues, for four years we have stood watch together. We have endured many things and we have accomplished many more. It has been the honor of my lifetime to stand beside you. And as I take my leave of this privileged post, I know that our efforts have not been in vain. The Builder of our city and the Author of our freedom has stood beside us. He stands beside us still.

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