John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks to a Group of United States Attorneys.

October 10, 1962

Ladies and gentlemen:

I want to welcome all of you to the White House and to tell you how much we appreciate all that you've done in the last 20 months.

I don't think that the people of this country are aware of what an extraordinary record in the war against crime here in the United States has been waged by the Federal attorneys, assistant Federal attorneys, with the aid of the local police, State police, and others, and, of course, the invaluable and constant assistance of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I have some statistics which I think indicate something of the nature of your work. You have carried on a very intensive campaign against all kinds of crime. The fact of the matter is that the betting on sporting events has dropped to about 10 percent of what it was 2 years ago, and the head of the Royal Mounted Police in Canada stated that a good many big time gamblers and racketeers here in the United States have been moving across the border of Canada because of the pressure that we have been applying.

In the period from January 1962 to the end of June, there were 38 convictions of 167 defendants involving in most cases major crimes. During the period of July 1 to December 1, 1960, a comparable 6 months' period, there were 3 convictions involving 10 defendants.

Now the result of this has been, as I say, a major pressure on major criminals and racketeers in the United States. As a result of the seven pieces of legislation which were passed, which is more legislation in the field of anticrime than has been passed since 1934, we have pretty well closed down in the United States the major wire services and have made the gambling infrastructure which has sustained the operation in the United States far less strong and far less attractive.

The fact of the matter is that you have spent a good deal more time before grand juries, you've brought a good deal more indictments which have resulted in convictions, you have moved with vigor in enforcement without regard to friendship or political affiliation, you have met your responsibilities in the carrying out of statutes which have not been altogether popular in every case in some parts of the country. And so we're very proud of the work you've done.

I think this has been one of the most effective areas of operation--the struggle against crime--that this administration has attempted to carry out. It's one of the least known. I'm hopeful that by various means, the major actions against racketeers and criminals in the United States which have come about partly through the action of the Congress legislatively, partly through your action in its effective enforcement of the legislation on the books, and with the cooperation of the various police agencies of our country, we are really making effective progress on this struggle.

There was a good article which I read about 3 months ago, or a month ago, in Sports Illustrated on the pressure which had been put on gambling. One of the gamblers in Las Vegas said he hoped we were going to be as firm in Berlin as we were in Las Vegas. Well, we intend to be.

So we're glad to have you here. I want to express our great thanks. I hope you've had a chance to visit this house which belongs to everyone and in which we are temporary guests. We're glad to see you.

Note: The President spoke at 10 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. The group of nearly 100 United States attorneys was in Washington for a 2-day conference on the problems of dealing with organized crime.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks to a Group of United States Attorneys. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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