- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales yesterday outlined six major priorities for the Justice Department at the start of his second year on the job: terrorism, violent crime, drug trafficking, cybercrime, government and corporate corruption, and civil rights.

“My goal is simple: Secure the opportunities of the American dream for all Americans and for future generations,” Mr. Gonzales said during a speech to Justice personnel gathered in the department’s Great Hall. “Keeping this charge is no small task, and it will require no small effort. And I am well aware that I can’t do it alone. I will need your help.

“So, today, I’m laying out a set of priorities and initiatives to guide our work for the coming year. This plan will allow us to continue the progress you’ve already achieved — most notably, four years without another terrorist attack here at home and a violent-crime rate that is at its lowest level in more than three decades,” he said.

Mr. Gonzales said the department would direct the “greatest amount of resources” to the six priorities to build on the “great strides” that department personnel have made since he took office last February.

He also announced new policy initiatives, including the Project Safe Childhood Initiative to prevent the exploitation of children over the Internet; an anti-gang initiative to help combat some of the worst, most violent gangs in the country; and Operation Home Sweet Home, to expose and eliminate housing discrimination in the United States.

But combating terrorism remains the department’s highest priority, he said, noting the successes in prosecuting dozens of terrorists in his first year on the job. Zacarias Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six charges related to his participation in a plot to fly planes into buildings, and Ali al-Timimi was prosecuted on charges of encouraging others to go to Pakistan for military training to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Gonzales said keeping U.S. communities “safe from violent crime” also remained a top priority, adding that vigorous prosecutions would continue through the Violent Crime Impact Teams, the Safe Streets Task Forces, and Project Safe Neighborhoods, under which the number of federal firearms prosecutions has increased 73 percent in the past five years.

The department’s renewed focus on cybercrime, he said, includes plans for the Project Safe Childhood Initiative — which will focus on integrating federal, state and local efforts to investigate and prosecute child-exploitation cases. To help curb the flow of illicit drugs, Mr. Gonzales said, the department remains dedicated to dismantling drug-trafficking organizations.

Mr. Gonzales said that last year, the department’s Civil Rights Division secured more convictions against human traffickers, increased the number of trafficking lawsuits by more than 30 percent, and doubled the number of trafficking defendants charged from the previous year. He promised to build on those successes.

He also said integrity in government and business was “essential for a strong America, and taxpayers and investors deserve nothing less.” He applauded the prosecution of business and government officials guilty of corruption and called on department personnel to continue those efforts.

“These priorities are not new,” Mr. Gonzales said. “They are fundamental to the American dream.”

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