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Letter to the Attorney General in Response to a Report on Crime and Law Enforcement.

November 01, 1964

[ Released November 1, 1964. Dated October 31, 1964 ]

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

I am sure that every American shares my deep satisfaction with the effective and expanding federal effort against crime described in your encouraging report on the subject. Under the program begun by Attorney General Kennedy and continued under your direction, federal law enforcement agencies have pursued, exposed, and prosecuted racketeers as never before.

This record results from exceptional efforts by many individuals--your attorneys in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, the able agents of the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, the Bureau of Narcotics, the Secret Service, the Bureau of Customs, and other federal law enforcement agencies. Their work is important and demanding-days and weeks spent away from home, long hours, and physical danger. They deserve the Nation's gratitude.

Success in combating and conquering crime depends upon cooperation among all levels of government and most significantly on public understanding, support and cooperation. The results set out in your report demonstrate how much more effective the federal government's efforts in this area have been as a result of the new attitude and strengthened coordination. I hope you will maintain and even strengthen this trend. In addition, I urge that the Department develop any additional legislative suggestions that will enable the federal government and other levels of government to meet our responsibilities in eliminating crime. The war against crime must be waged with all the vigor and strength we possess.



[Honorable Nicholas deB. Katzenbach, Acting Attorney General, Washington, D.C.]

Note: The Acting Attorney General's report, in the form of a letter dated October 30, 1964, pointed out that indictments of racketeers had increased from 49 in 1960 to 615 in 1963 (541 to date in 1964). Convictions had increased from 45 in 1960 to 288 in 1963 and 466 in 1964. The report attributed these gains to three factors:

(1) New legislation--such as the statutes forbidding interstate transmission of gambling information, machines, and paraphernalia--which had given the Federal Government new or increased authority to deal with racketeering.

(2) New interagency coordination. Before 1961 the Department of Justice had received only limited information about racketeers, and then only from the FBI. Today, the report stated, all 26 Federal investigative agencies were pooling their information daily. This coordination had made possible joint action against individuals whom a single agency was previously unable to prosecute.

(3) New enforcement energy had been demonstrated by the Department of Justice and by the other agencies. The number of attorneys had been more than tripled. Permanent field units had been established in four cities and special units had operated in a number of others.

While emphasizing the successes in the fight against racketeering the report also pointed out that the Federal Government does not have--and should not have--"authority to act in the place of local police against most types of crime."

Lyndon B. Johnson, Letter to the Attorney General in Response to a Report on Crime and Law Enforcement. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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