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First lady thanks Justice Department staff for work on oil spill

By Terry Frieden, CNN Justice Department Producer

Washington (CNN) -- First lady Michelle Obama visited the Justice Department on Wednesday to thank employees for their work in the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, but she warned them their long hours are not going to be ending soon.

"These are going to be tough times and we are going to need every one of you to buckle up and work even harder," she told a cheering crowd of several hundred Justice workers.

"Many folks here in this agency are working tirelessly to ensure that accountability is going on, that we are protecting taxpayers dollars and that we are helping those affected by the oil spill to get back to their feet, and people need to know that the Department of Justice is at the center of that work," she said.

The first lady praised the federal legal force for upholding the law and fighting for fairness, but avoided mention of any of several controversial issues in which Justice Department lawyers are currently engaged, including the oil drilling moratorium, Arizona's immigration law, and plans for the Guantanamo detainees.

Michelle Obama has visited several federal agencies to express White House appreciation for the work done by career civil servants.