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Remarks on the International Crime Control Strategy

May 12, 1998

Thank you very much, Mary, for your remarks and your work. Thank you, Mr. Vice President, members of the Cabinet and Congress, Mayor Barry, members of the city council, and to all the law enforcement officials who are here. We are here to talk about building a safer world for the 21st century.

Nuclear Proliferation in South Asia

So before I begin my remarks about the subject of the day, I want to make it very, very clear that I am deeply disturbed by the nuclear tests which India has conducted, and I do not believe it contributes to building a safer 21st century. The United States strongly opposes any new nuclear testing. This action by India not only threatens the stability of the region, it directly challenges the firm international consensus to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. I call on India to announce that it will conduct no further tests and that it will sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty now and without conditions. I also urge India's neighbors not to follow suit, not to follow down the path of a dangerous arms race. As most of you know, our laws have very stringent provisions, signed into law by me in 1994, in response to nuclear tests by nonnuclear weapons states, and I intend to implement them fully.

International Crime Control Strategy

Now, in a few hours I will be leaving to travel to Europe, to meet with the leaders of other industrial democracies in a time of great hope. Because of what is happening in Bosnia and Ireland, it is clear that if we work together, the 21st century can be a time of unprecedented democracy, prosperity, and peace. But it is equally clear that there are threats to our common future that cross national lines. Today I want to announce new plans to address the growing problem of international crime.

We all know the globe is shrinking every day with global TV networks, instantaneous communications over the Internet, increasing world travel. European nations have adopted completely opened borders, and many of them have already voted to create a common currency.

The American people in general benefit greatly from the process of globalization, with more economic opportunities and more opportunities to become enriched through contact with different cultures. Our values—democracy, human rights, the rule of law—will ultimately prevail when there is free trade in ideas.

But more porous borders, more affordable travel, more powerful communications increasingly also give criminals the opportunity to reach across borders, physically and electronically, to commit crimes and then retreat before they can be caught and punished. Many Americans really don't realize the extent to which international crime affects their daily lives, which is why we were so pleased to have Agent Riley with us today.

Con artists, operating overseas, mail phony financial offers and then disappear with investor dollars—hundreds of millions of dollars' worth. Sometimes they lure citizens abroad and use violence to get what they want.

Car theft rings move stolen vehicles across the border—200,000 a year, worth about a billion dollars—resulting in higher insurance costs for all Americans.

As Agent Riley's remarks suggest, cybercriminals can use computers to raid our banks, run up charges on our credit cards, extort money by threats to unleash computer viruses.

Smugglers engage in port running—speeding vehicles past our border points—putting people in danger and aiding the thriving trade in gangs, drugs, and guns. Others smuggle people across our border for prostitution and jobs in illegal sweatshops.

Two-thirds of counterfeit U.S. money—twothirds—is printed overseas. Illegal copying of our products costs us jobs and tens of billions in revenue. Spies seek important industrial secrets, and worse, materials to make nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

Up to $500 billion in criminal proceeds every single year, more than the GNP of most nations, is laundered, disguised as legitimate revenue, and much of it moves across our borders. International crime rings intimidate weak governments and threaten democracy. They murder judges, journalists, witnesses, and kidnappers and terrorists have attacked Americans abroad and even at home with brutal acts like the World Trade Center bombing.

Wrongdoing flows two ways. U.S. criminals also operate across borders, victimizing people in other nations. All these activities threaten our common safety and prosperity. To combat them, we must act broadly, decisively, consistent with our constitutional values to leave criminals no place to run, no place to hide.

The job of law enforcement officials behind me, from 12 different agencies, is to protect the American people from crime. But the job of our Congress, and my job, is to give these officers the tools they need to do the job.

Therefore, today I announce for the first time a comprehensive international crime control strategy for America. At its core is a simple but compelling truth: International crime requires an international response. America is prepared to act alone when it must, but no nation can control crime by itself anymore. We must create a global community of crimefighters, dedicated to protecting the innocent and to bringing to justice the offenders.

This week, nations at the G-8 summit will announce significant new joint anticrime activities. But let me tell you what I plan to do already by taking better advantage of existing laws and asking Congress for new legislation.

First, we will work with other nations to create a worldwide dragnet capability to promptly arrest and extradite fugitives from justice. Our bill asks for wider authority so America can extradite more suspected criminals. We'll also press for international cooperations so criminals will forfeit their ill-gotten gains.

Second, because none of us is safe if criminals find safe havens abroad, we'll work to ensure other nations are also ready to fight international crime—with global standards and goals, training and technical aid, and programs to modernize criminal laws elsewhere.

Third, we will work with our allies to share information on growing crime syndicates, to better derail their schemes. And we will work with industries to protect against computer crime.

Fourth, we will put more law enforcement personnel abroad, to aid our Embassies in identifying criminals before they attack Americans. And I'm seeking new authority to prosecute more violent offenses against Americans overseas.

Fifth, we will strengthen border security, with 1,000 new Border Patrol Agents, new technologies, and stiffer penalties, to put more smuggling rings out of business. I also want tough new sentences for port runners and for smugglers who refuse to stop for our Coast Guard.

Sixth, I will ask Congress to enact strict provisions to bar drug and arms traffickers and fugitives from justice from entering our country and to expel them if they do come here.

Finally, I will seek new authority to fight money laundering and freeze the U.S. assets of people arrested abroad. And we'll improve enforcement of existing laws against counterfeiting and industrial espionage.

To focus our efforts, we will complete within 6 months a comprehensive analysis of the threat Americans face from international crime. I've asked Vice President Gore to organize a global meeting to set a common agenda for fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law. Some of the criminals have sophisticated tools, so ours must be also. They can form temporary cross-border alliances, based on greed and selfinterest, so we must strengthen the community of nations based on a community of values.

They care about no one but themselves, while we care so deeply about our children and their future. It is our most profound strength, the strength that will allow us to prevail. For we cannot, we must not, we will not accept a world in which American children and children abroad grow up paralyzed by crime, fear, and violence.

Together, America and our allies can attack this scourge and build a secure and prosperous future for all our people. Again, let me say to all of you, especially to the law enforcement officers here, I thank you very, very much. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 10:22 a.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Agent Mary Riley, Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Secret Service; and Mayor Marion S. Barry, Jr., of Washington, DC.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the International Crime Control Strategy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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