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World: Clinton Announces Attack On International Crime

Washington, 13 May 1998 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. President Bill Clinton says international organized crime is a threat to democracy, common safety and prosperity, so he has announced a seven-point plan of attack to combat the problem.

In remarks at the White House on Tuesday, Clinton said, "international crime requires an international response." He said the U.S. is prepared to act alone when it must, but he also said, "no nation can control crime by itself anymore." The president called for the creation of "a global community of crime-fighters dedicated to protecting the innocent," and bringing offenders to justice.

The program is the result of the belief by senior Clinton advisers that the U.S. is falling behind in the fight against international organized crime.

At a press briefing Tuesday, deputy U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the president's proposals were drafted to protect against what he called a clear and present danger and not some distant threat.

Holder said, for example, that most of the illicit drugs consumed in the U.S. -- tens of thousands of millions of dollars worth -- are grown in other countries and brought to the U.S. by foreign organized crime groups.

Holder said two-thirds of all counterfeit currency detected in the United States is created abroad. He said that about 200,000 of the cars stolen in the United States each year, worth more than a thousand million dollars, are taken abroad for sale.

Holder added that economic espionage against U.S. businesses, often involving foreign competitors, is increasing. He said computer crime and attacks on critical infrastructures are up, and that Americans continue to be the targets of choice for terrorist groups and kidnappers.

Clinton said Washington's partners in the Group of Seven industrial powers, plus Russia, will announce major anti-crime activities at the eight-nation summit in Britain this week.

However, Clinton said the U.S. will act on its own to take advantage of its existing laws to combat crime. He said he also plans to ask the U.S. Congress to approve new anti-crime legislation.

First, Clinton said the U.S. will work with other nations to create a worldwide capability to promptly arrest and extradite fugitives. Clinton's proposed legislation will seek wider authority for domestic law enforcement to enable the U.S. to extradite more suspected criminals. He also said the U.S. will press for international cooperation, "so criminals will forfeit their ill-gotten gains."

Secondly, Clinton says the U.S. will help ensure that other nations are also ready to fight international crime by establishing global standards and goals and by offering assistance in training and other programs to modernize criminal laws.

Clinton says the U.S. will also work with its allies to share information on growing crime syndicates, "to better derail their schemes," and will also work with industries to protect against computer crime.

The president's plan also calls for sending more U.S. law enforcement personnel abroad to aid U.S. embassies in identifying criminals.

In addition, Clinton is asking for 1,000 new agents for the U.S. Border Patrol, plus new technologies and harsher penalties for smugglers.

He said he will also ask the Congress to enact strict provisions to bar drug and arms traffickers and fugitives from justice from entering the U.S., and to expel them if they do come to America. Finally, Clinton said he will ask for new authority to fight money laundering and freeze the U.S. assets of people arrested abroad, and to improve enforcement of existing laws against counterfeiting and industrial espionage.

Clinton said he has instructed Vice President Al Gore to organize a global meeting to set a common agenda for fighting corruption and strengthening the rule of law.

To successfully combat international crime, said Clinton, the U.S. and its allies "must act broadly, decisively, consistent with our constitutional values, to leave criminals no place to run, no place to hide."