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Remarks on Signing the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970

October 15, 1970

Mr. Attorney General, Secretary Kennedy, and ladies and gentlemen:

The purpose of my coming to the Department of Justice today in this Great Hall is to sign the organized crime bill. And before the signing ceremony before this very august assembly, I would like to say a word as to how it came into being.

Eighteen months ago we sent the recommendations to the Congress for consideration in this area. The Congress has been working on the legislation since that time and, finally, as a result of a bipartisan effort--and both parties are represented here today very appropriately--the bill has come to my desk for signature.

However, I think it is very appropriate to mention at this time that we did not wait for the legislation to arrive before taking action in this field.

I think the Attorney General of the United States and his staff, his fine staff of lawyers and investigators, Mr. Hoover, the people from the FBI, Secretary Kennedy and the people from the Treasury Department who have responsibilities here, the Secret Service, all of them moved forward in this area to the extent they could before the legislation which we had asked for had come into being.

As a result, more strike forces have gone across the country. As a result of wiretaps that have been authorized by the Attorney General, there have been over 400 arrests in the racketeering field since we began to institute that operation approximately a year and a half ago.

What I am simply saying is this: Signing this rather formidable piece of legislation-and I know that it went through the Judiciary Committee of the Senate and the Judiciary Committee of the House and, consequently, has had a great deal of care and attention--signing this piece of legislation will provide the tools to do the job, but what really counts is the fact that we have the men and the women who will do the job. I know we have them. I know we have them in the person of the Attorney General and his staff, Mr. Hoover and his staff, and in the areas where they have responsibility, the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secret Service and their staffs.

I am very proud of these people. I think all Americans can be proud of the fact that the work they have done before they got the necessary tools that they needed, and now that they have these tools, I think that we can say that they shall now be able to launch a total war against organized crime. And we will win this war. It can be done. And the billions of dollars that organized crime has taken out of American society, what it has done to society in other ways, its, for example, support of the drug traffic in this country, in many of these areas where we have seen organized crime doing so much harm to America, we are going to find now that those who are fighting against crime will have the tools that they need to do the job and they will do the job.

One area that this bill covers that was not covered a year and a half ago because it did not seem then to be necessary is in the field of anti-bombing legislation. I think that in the past few weeks we have seen the wisdom for the passage of this particular provision of the bill. I asked for it, as you know, a couple of months ago.

Last week we saw bombings in California, we saw one in Rochester, we saw one, in addition, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. And it seems that every day we pick up the papers and we see some sporadic incident without reason, without cause, simply a terrorist activity which we have not been able to cope with adequately in the past.

Now, what this legislation does is to provide that where there is a Federal interest, Federal support for an installation, then the Federal law enforcement officials will move in.

Before the legislation comes into effect as a result of my signing it today, I have directed, and the Attorney General has approved the direction, that the FBI go forward in investigations now of bombings in areas where the bill might provide for a Federal presence or Federal activity.

I think that this should be a warning to those who engage in these acts that we in this country are not going to tolerate that kind of activity in the future and that the full force of the Federal Government, and particularly of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, will be brought against these actions wherever there is a Federal interest.

This bill will help. It will allow the FBI to move into cases on a positive basis where previously they have been able to do so only when asked to do so by the local law enforcement officials.

And I think that at this time to point out that the actions of the FBI in apprehending Angela Davis1--a rather remarkable story again in the long history of remarkable stories of apprehensions by the FBI--is an indication that once the Federal Government through the FBI moves into an area, this should be warning to those who engage in these acts that they eventually are going to be apprehended. This is a warning by signing this bill: We are going to give the tools to the men in the Justice Department and the men in the FBI and we shall see to it that those who engage in such terroristic acts are brought to justice.

The Federal Government will play its part, supporting law enforcement officials, local law enforcement officials, but we also will assume our responsibility at the Federal level wherever there is a Federal interest.

Thank you.

1 Miss Davis was apprehended in New York City on October 13, 1970, and charged with unlawful interstate flight to avoid prosecution for murder and kidnaping in connection with the fatal shooting of Superior Court Judge Harold J. Haley on August 7, 1970, during a trial in San Raphael, Calif.

Note: The President spoke at 10:14 a.m. in the Great Hall at the Department of Justice Building. As enacted, the bill (S. 30) is Public Law 91-452 (84 Stat. 922).

Richard Nixon, Remarks on Signing the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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