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Swearing In Ceremony of U.S. Marshals Service Director

Aired December 5, 2001 - 14:33   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go now to Arlington, Virginia. That's where the attorney general, John Ashcroft, is speaking. He has just participated in the swearing in of the new director of the U.S. Marshal Service, Ben Reyna. Let's listen in to the attorney general.



JOHN ASHCROFT, ATTORNEY GENERAL: This great team of the U.S. Marshals Service, together with Don Gambitizza (ph), Ben Reyna joins the Drug Enforcement Administration with Asa Hutchinson, Immigration and Naturalization Service Commissioner James Ziglar, FBI Director Robert Mueller in honoring this administration and the nation with their service.

As the Marshals Service director, Ben Reyna will stand with the men and women of the Marshals Service on the front lines of the war against terrorism, just as our service men and women are risking their lives in the battle against the enemy overseas. It falls to those of us who are here at home in law enforcement to lead in America the battle against the enemy at home.

The fight against terrorism and the preservation of innocent lives from terrorist threat is now the first and overriding priority of the Department of Justice. And even though the federal justice system today is more complex than it was when President Washington appointed the first 13 U.S. marshals, our mission must be equally clear.

Over the century, carrying out that mission has required out new ways of doing business. Now, when terrorism threatens our future, we cannot afford to live in the past and we have to embrace the future and our core mission of protecting the nation and the citizens of our nation.

Yes, it's a huge undertaking. But this department can change when necessary and adapt, and it can do so while it maintains high standards -- safeguards that are essential the democracy in which we live.

The men and women of this particular agency, the U.S. Marshals Service, are among the finest law enforcement officers in the world, but the federal government cannot win this battle alone. We must forge new relationships and cooperation, and relationships of trust with our partners in state and local law enforcement. Bureaucratic turf battles must cease and be set aside in the national interest.

Ben Reyna is uniquely prepared of all the individuals for this kind of undertaking. He's a proven team player. He has an extraordinary talent for focusing the various layers of law enforcement on the priority tasks at hand, and he brings personal virtues to this job that are so important.

When President George Washington selected the first marshals, he said he was looking for individuals who would discharge their respective trust with honor to themselves and advantage to their country. Director Reyna is such a man of honor. He brings honor to himself by bringing advantage to America. He is worthy to lead you because he cares deeply about people and the mission of the Marshals Service.

I've gotten to know him while he's been at my side during briefings at the department. Let me apologize to his staff for taking up so much of his early days in Washington. Due to the circumstances, he has probably spent as many hours with us in the Justice Department in the main Justice building as he has in his own office.

But those meetings have given me an additional chance to learn about Ben Reyna, and I've discovered that we share a deep belief in the people we are working with; people at all levels of our organizations. This is the essence of what real leadership is about.

Michael Jordan has recently returned to play basketball here in Washington, D.C., for the Wizards and I went to one of the games and people said, "How'd Jordan play?" Well, we all know how Jordan plays. He's the best basketball player who ever lived. And I don't go to the game where Michael Jordan plays to see how Michael Jordan plays. I know how he plays. I go to the game when Michael Jordan is playing to see how he changes the play and elevates the performance of the other individuals around him because that's the essence of leadership. That's the responsibility of those whose presence would galvanize the rest of the team to make a difference.

The Marshals Service did not get a naysayer or a nitpicker; they got a leader. They didn't get a critic; they got an extraordinarily positive man, and he's going to carry a positive message. And because of it, the play of all the members of this team is going to be elevated as a result of your joining this team.

So, Michael...


... we expect, league-leading point production from you.


Your dedication, your experience is the kind of leadership and experience that this organization respects, that have made this organization an organization populated by guardians of American liberty.

This organization has long stood in the vanguard of the defense of this nation, and Ben will not let me forget that this heritage goes back 212 years.

Director, thank you for keeping that message front and center during our meetings.

And I would just add that since I became attorney general, I've had numerous opportunities to witness the truth of your message. For example, when I came on board last winter, the first Department of Justice operation conducted on my watch was for the department to seize the assets of an organization known as the Indiana Baptist Temple. It was a Marshals Service assignment.

The men and women of this agency worked patiently, they worked professionally with other law enforcement officials, with the media and with church leaders to resolve some very thorny issues. Not the least of those issues was the threat of armed militias and violence. This organization knew the Marshals Service -- defused a powder keg situation. You accomplished your mission, and in doing so, you earned the gratitude of a nation that knows the value of professionalism and dedication and law enforcement.

That success helped me start my job on the right foot, and I'm not likely to forget it.

Ben, I want to thank you for your work and for your leadership. I look forward to working with the ladies and gentlemen of this great organization. I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to continue in a tradition of service.

I might add that the service is continuing, continuing in a way that I think makes all Americans grateful for the kind of commitment that the men and women of the Marshals Service continually display.

It was last week that Marshal Gambitizza (ph) and I and Reuben Garcia of the FBI held a news conference. We held a news conference because there was an individual that was listed on the most wanted list of the United States Marshals Service and an individual -- that same individual listed on the most wanted list of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

And it was time for the people of the United States to lend their capacity to help us apprehend an individual that we felt was on the run. And I'm pleased to say that no sooner does Ben take over the U.S. Marshals Service but we can write across the face of that poster "apprehended."


Would all of you that work for the United States Marshals Service just stand up for a minute? I just would like for all of you that are employed by the Marshals Service -- would you do that?

(APPLAUSE) Now without giving a commercial endorsement -- thank you, you may be seated...


... to any commercial firm, there is a firm that said, "You're in good hands with..." Well, Clayton Lee Waagner is in the good hands, in the custody of the United States Marshals Service. And you know something?


In those good hands, I have to tell you that the United States is a safer and more secure place. The battle against these who inflict terror or seek to inflict terror or seek to induce terror with hoaxes or threats is a battle that must be joined by all Americans.

And after we announced together last week the need for the participation of the American public and the Marshals Service conducted itself appropriately, together with the other federal and state and local resources, the right kind of information came in response to our efforts and we were able to place in the good hands of the U.S. Marshals Service in the custody one of the most wanted from both the FBI and Marshals Service lists.

It's that tradition, it's that day-in-and-day-out service that respects the security of this great nation that makes us so pleased to have the opportunity to install Ben Reyna in this most important responsibility.

So at this time, it's my happy privilege, as the attorney general of the United States, to call Ben forward -- and I believe your family's going to come and be with you at this time -- for the installation.

Ben, if you would please raise your right hand and repeat after me. I, Ben Reyna...

REYNA: I, Ben Reyna...

ASHCROFT: ... do solemnly swear...

REYNA: ... do solemnly swear...

ASHCROFT: ... that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the United States...

REYNA: ... that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the United States...

ASHCROFT: ... and enforce the laws thereunder...

REYNA: ... and will enforce the laws thereunder...

ASHCROFT: ... execute all lawful precepts directed to me under the authority of the United States... REYNA: ... execute all lawful precepts directed to me under the authority of the Untied States...

ASHCROFT: ... and in all things faithfully execute...

REYNA: ... and in all things faithfully execute...

ASHCROFT: ... the duties of the director of the United States Marshals Service...

REYNA: ... the duties of the director of the United States Marshals Service...

ASHCROFT: ... during my continuance in office...

REYNA: ... during my continuance in office...

ASHCROFT: ... so help me God.

REYNA: ... so help me God.

ASHCROFT: Congratulations.


BLITZER: Attorney General John Ashcroft swearing in the new director of the U.S. Marshals Service, Ben Reyna, at a ceremony that we just saw, obviously, here on CNN in Arlington, Virginia.

The attorney general also speaking about some breaking news we have been reporting now for some time: the arrest of Clayton Lee Waagner, accused of sending out lots of anthrax hoax letters to abortion clinics around the United States. Our Eileen O'Connor first reported about this a little while ago is joining me once again. The attorney general gave credit to the U.S. Marshals Service for this arrest.

EILEEN O'CONNOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and so did the FBI. The FBI says that they were not involved at all in this arrest, that it was the U.S. Marshals Services that were called after local police were called by a citizen who went in and saw Clayton Lee Waagner at a Kinko's in Springdale, Ohio. Waagner apparently in the same store as this person. This person spotted him, as you heard the attorney general saying, they wanted the help of the public. It's one of reasons they put him on the 10 most wanted list, one of the reasons that he went out there last week, publicizing that Clayton Lee Waagner was wanted in connection with these anthrax hoax letters that were sent to abortion clinics.

Now, here's the Kinko's in Springdale. Apparently, that person who spotted him called the local police, who called the U.S. Marshals. U.S. Marshals then came, pursued Waagner, apparently on foot. He had a handgun. They were able to apprehend him. They then went and seized his car. Inside the car, they found, according to the U.S. Marshals, a computer and some cash. Now, why the U.S. Marshals? It was because he had been picked up originally for a parole violation and that comes under the duties of U.S. Marshals. So they would be the lead agency in this kind of an operation. And he escaped originally in February of 2001 from their custody after they had picked him up on that parole violation.

BLITZER: So, in addition to the parole violation and the escape, the sending out the hoax anthrax letters, if convicted, he faces an enormous amount of prison time, just in connection with that alone.

O'CONNOR: He does, because the attorney general has vowed to deal with the people sending any anthrax hoax letters very severely. We have already seen some other people who have sent out individual hoax letters already being charged. And they can face very, very serious fines, up to half a million dollars and also very long prison sentences as well.

BLITZER: OK. Eileen O'Connor, thanks for all that good reporting.




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