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Sunday, May 16, 2010

It is Time to Move Forward…

On December 3, 2004, after three decades of dedicated service to the City of New York and to our country, President George W. Bush nominated me to become the second Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

It was a privilege and an honor, and I accepted the president’s nomination with a strong belief that my experience and success as a public servant would make this country safer in the wake of a newfound enemy as we continued to defend ourselves in the war against terror.

A week after my nomination, I withdrew my name from consideration because the confirmation process was quickly deteriorating into a tabloid nightmare which threatened to make a mockery of everything I had ever accomplished. What began with failing to pay the payroll tax of my children's nanny -- which has plagued more than a dozen presidential cabinet nominees, past and present -- became a five and a half year nightmare of local, state, and federal investigations that resulted in a fifteen count criminal indictment against me.

For nearly three years, I prepared to go to trial to defend myself against substantially the same charges I had already faced in New York State Court. Then, just days before the federal trial was to begin, my bail was revoked and I was imprisoned. The judge threatened to disqualify my legal team, which both he and the government prosecutors had already done twice before and would have sent me back to square one for the third time with my savings now exhausted.

On November 5th, 2009, I was being held in pre-trial detention and financially helpless.  I faced the prospect of remaining behind bars awaiting trial for what could have been more than a year while new court appointed lawyers prepared for my defense. As a result, I decided to accept a plea agreement offered by the government prosecutors.  I pled guilty to eight counts in exchange for a sentence of 27 to 33 months, which many legal observers have opined as severe considering the allegations made against me in the case, especially considering my otherwise unblemished record of service to this country dating back more than 30 years to my days as a young GI in Korea.

Ignoring the signed plea agreement and recommendations made by the prosecutors, as well as the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Probation and my highly decorated service to the American people, the judge sentenced me to 48 months in federal prison – 15 months over the recommended and agreed upon sentence.

Words cannot express my disappointment in the prosecutors and the judge’s behavior, and his sentence that followed.  I have repeatedly expressed remorse for what I may have done, however, unlike many, I can’t remain silent in the face of what I believe has been a gross injustice, which I pray will be remedied by an appellate court.

As I prepare to serve my sentence, I have had to likewise prepare Angelina and Celine, my seven and ten year old daughters for what is next to come and had to teach them that there are times when we are put in situations which are beyond our control and that no matter how undeserved, unsought, or unwanted, we must find the strength, courage, and perseverance to carry on and move forward.

I sat with them and watched the movie Rocky Balboa, for the sole purpose of having them watch one scene where Rocky speaks to his son and says, “The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are….it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward!”

When Sly Stallone wrote those words, he was talking about the challenges in real life and the principles of courage, strength, and perseverance.

In my life, I have been confronted with extraordinary challenges, from the age of three when I was abandoned by my own mother who was later murdered, to gun battles on the streets of New York City, through the aftermath of 9/11, to my work rebuilding a shattered Iraq, these are the principles by which I have lived.

My friends say that because I have persevered in the face of great challenge, I became a convenient target of personal and political attacks, most of which were waged by people that have never met me and know nothing about me other than the media headlines that they have read.  As I have listened to my critics, I have often wondered, how they would have fared under the same circumstances and the same scrutiny.

I have been blessed with tremendous support, friendships, and loyalties that I will never forget, and mean more to me than anyone will ever know. To those that have been in my corner and have spoken up for me, written letters of support and that have prayed for me, I offer my heartfelt thanks. It is a humbling thing to have such support, and I will forever cherish it and try to remain worthy of it.

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross once said, “People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”  I’m not exactly a stained-glass window, I don’t think I’ve sparkled or shined, and I certainly don’t claim to be beautiful, but I do think there is a light within me! 

That light is my love for my wife, my children, and my country.  It is a light that they ignited; they sustain, and will guide me through the dark times ahead.

And now, as I have told Celine and Angelina, “It is time to move forward,” and end this nightmare. 

I pray for God to watch over my wife, my two little girls, and my family in my absence. I also pray that he brings us together again much sooner rather than later.

I pray for our country, its leadership, and the men and women who like my son, are on the front lines and in harm’s way everyday, protecting us from evil and defending the very freedoms by which we live.

Finally, I can only hope that history will judge me based on my 30 years of public service to our great nation, and not by tabloid headlines, my imperfections, or the mistakes that I may have made.

26 comments:

  1. You seem to have more courage than I believe I could ever muster. Mr. Kerik, may the love of your wife and children carry you through many difficult times ahead. God Bless.

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  2. You have thousands of supporters and have touched many people's lives. I know in my heart that you will back before you even know it. And the best revenge is that you will be right back on top again!! Your achievements will never be forgotten, no matter how much your critics try to take them away from you. Always remember that!! God Bless you and your family. We will all be praying for you everyday. Take care...

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  3. God Bless You Mr. Kerik! Never ever give up!

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  4. Bernard Kerik, American Hero. May God bless and keep you and your family. We'll be waiting on you.

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  5. As dumb as this may sound,,,,theres a reason 4 everything,,,,,you will know what it is in your quiet moments. You will be fine and come out stronger.
    God Bless You
    Maggie

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  6. Bernie, you brought me to tears. I have such admiration for all that you have accomplished during your career. I will continue to pray for you and your family and hope for a successful appeal decision. You will always be a hero to me and to so many others. Keep your chin up and as you said...move forward and get this nightmare over.

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  7. God Bless you....We will pray for your early release, and for your family.

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  8. Bernie - history will no doubt judge you on your 30 years of public service to our great nation. God bless and we hope to see you real soon!

    Dave Patnaude

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  9. It was always my pleasure to have been chosen to work with you, you and your family are in my prayers, take care and be safe

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  10. Dear Mr. Kerik:

    Your family will be safe.

    Your country will be secure.

    Your future will be bright.

    Stay safe, stay prayerful, and hang tough.

    We await your return and the chapters of the Bernard Kerik story yet to be written.

    God Speed,

    John Taylor

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  11. We pray for you and family. Be strong for them and never give up! "God Bless You Commissioner".

    Lucia Sollitti

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  12. We Love you Boss, we will be hear till the end and to start over what ever it takes.....I wish people could have seen what I was blessed to see in those few days.....

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  13. I grieve for you, Bernie. My heart goes out to your family, and my prayers are with you that Angels will encamp round about you and protect you. You are a noble and kind man, sir. I respect you as a soldier, as a father, as a police officer, and as a friend. May the Lord of all blessings smile upon you and reverse this awful witch hunt that has befallen you. This is what happens when politics is allowed to run amok, and people put the advancing of their own selfish agendas above principle.

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  14. God Bless you, and know that so many of us are with you through all this. My family, and I will never forget what you did for New York. You touched so many lives. You are a hero, Bernard Kerik!

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  15. ConservativeDivaMay 17, 2010 at 9:38 AM

    Tomorrow will be a VERY sad day for many :( I wish you the best as you serve an UNdeserving sentence brought on by the criminals who run our justice system! I do believe what goes around will come around! I will pray for you and your family EVERYDAY! Mr Kerik YOU ARE A HERO!!!

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  16. What a fickle justice system we have where a man such as you is imprisoned.

    My best to you and your incredible family.

    Antonella

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  17. May the force be with you!

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  18. Bernard.....

    Hi there Sir. My Best Friend is Synnove Bakke and so through her I have heard of the Honor and Sacrifice you have made for every family in NYC. My heart breaks for you right now. I have added your family to my daily prayer list and I believe you will come out of this a better man. Tough times tend to make us stronger people and you have so many who know without a doubt that you are An American Hero. I am going to follow you till you are free and then I hope to meet you and shake your hand. I have heard the very best things about you and deep down you know you are a man of Character. Please do not let this break you.....

    Much Love, Prayer and Understanding

    ~Morgan

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  19. I have no idea how history will judge you or situation, I dont mean it to insult you when I say I am not even sure if you are a hero as many say.I think you were a good cop and did your job well. I do believe you were persecuted for political reasons and this once great country is rapidly becoming a place I hardly recogonize anymore. You should be pardoned and not have to serve a day in prison. Your Rocky Balboa analogy is correct. I wissh you the best and I feel sorry that your family has to endure this hardship.God Bless you brother. PN

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  20. Bernie, you are in my thoughts and prayers that true justice will be done for you, a true American hero, as the way you have been treated is a disgrace, when you are a true patriot with a great big heart. God Bless you and your family.

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  21. While certain of our countrymen may have turned their backs on you, others never will. I know there will come a time when this ungrateful Nation of ours will once again reach out to you and acknowledge it needs you; shamed that it has allowed such a grave injustice. Beyond doubt, you will rise to the occasion and protect us – not because we deserve it but because you epitomize Duty Honor Country. Despite it all, you will never turn your back to us and I will never turn my back to you. God bless you and your family. Please remember you are never alone; we are here for you when you need us.
    Marcus Payson

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  22. God bless you, Sir. I know you're here in Md now, and I'd visit if I thought you wanted me to, and that it would help your morale. Of course, bring you whatever you wanted you were allowed to have according to BOP rules/reg's. I'm here for you, Sir. Not far from you, couple or so hour drive.

    Your fan,
    Tim Nelson
    http://www.twitter.com/AikiRooster

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  23. Say hello to my brother..maybe we'll meet on visiting day.

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  24. What lovely words. I hope you might think about writing your second book while away. I'm in the Balto/DC area and am wondering if you can have visitors. If so, I would love to meet my second biggest hero - No. 1 was my dad!!!! Take care, and you're one day closer to the end.
    Your Katrina Refugee FB Friend

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  25. Just wanted to let you know that you are not the only person that has been 'innocently convicted' and used as a escape goat by prosecuters and judges. What you did was wrong as you know, but the penalty dose not fit the 'crime'. I hope that you sit back and learn and enjoy this part of your 'journey' of life. You are a blessed man, you are being shown what it is like to walk on both sides. Take this as a blessed journey of understanding. Hope you are treating your fellow cell mates, with kindness and respect. They are watching you and they will help you or break you. Be kind and gentle in your ways and learn, love and you will come out a more humble and blessed man.

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  26. History will no doubt judge you as a person who parlayed political connections into a position, which you were not qualified or capable of serving, and then used that position of power to steal.

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