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US Attorney General Warns Against Complacency On Terror Threat

The top U.S. law enforcement official is warning Americans not to become complacent about the threat of terrorism.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales took over the reins of the Justice Department just a few weeks ago from John Ashcroft. But he is wasting little time in reminding Americans that terrorist threats remain, despite the fact that there have been no further attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001.

"But this very success confronts us with a new kind of challenge. As the months and years since September 11 pass, complacency becomes our enemy," he said. "It is all too human to want to put out of our mind the horror perpetrated on thousands of our fellow citizens and their families."

Attorney General Gonzales says combating terrorism remains the Justice Department's top priority. "The threat posed by al-Qaida and other groups is still very real. We cannot afford to assume the quiet of today will mean peace for tomorrow. And at the department (of Justice), we are keenly aware of the continuing threat posed by terrorists. I see it every morning when I begin the day with an intelligence briefing," he said.

The new attorney general also urged Congress to renew the Patriot Act, the law passed in the wake of the September 11 attacks that gave law enforcement officials more leeway in detecting and disrupting terrorist threats.

The law is up for renewal this year, but lawmakers on both sides of the political spectrum say they have reservations about reauthorizing the law without changes.

Beyond terrorism, Attorney General Gonzales says the other main priorities for the Justice Department are continuing to reduce violent crime around the country, and finding ways to stop criminals at home and abroad engaged in human trafficking.