Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Explains Project Safe Childhood

This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," December 8, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

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JOHN KASICH, GUEST HOST: In the "'Factor' Original" segment tonight, the Justice Department is aggressively cracking down on online sexual predators. It's a growing problem. American kids being stalked and exploited on the internet. It's the target of Project Safe Childhood. The man behind the initiative is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. He spoke with Bill O'Reilly yesterday:


BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Mr. Attorney General, before we get into the specifics of the program that you're launching, everybody asks me this question, when you and I were growing up, is it worse now, is sexual predation worse now than it was back then?

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would certainly say it's certainly different. I think the battlefield is different. And I call it a "battlefield" because I think we are in a war to protect the innocence of our children.

And the reason I say it's different is because of the internet. I think the internet has facilitated the growth of child pornography. Predators on the Internet, they can now cloak under the secrecy of the Internet. They can communicate with others who share who have the same kind of interest in child pornography. And so, it's quite frankly, Bill, it's much different than when we were in children.

O'REILLY: I agree that the internet gives aids and comfort and emboldens these predators and gives them more opportunity because they can disguise themselves as teenagers and they can trade pictures. They can do all this stuff.

But we don't really have an organized federal presence to monitor the internet, do we? Do you have like an "internet FBI" under your jurisdiction?

GONZALES: Well, we obviously want to be very, very careful about — about invading people's privacy. I think people would have some concerns if there was constant monitoring of Internet use.

But we do have programs in place that does allow us to monitor certain uses of the internet, certain — access to certain sites -- where we know that you do have child pornography.

But make no mistake about it: the Internet and changing technology presents different kinds of challenges for the law enforcement community.

O'REILLY: Don't we need — don't we need a federal cyber police? Don't we need — see, I don't think Americans — I think you might be wrong here, Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect. I don't think Americans mind you going into the porno web sites and to the chat rooms where you know that they're concentrating on child stuff.

And they're bold. They're bold. I mean, they got the names right there and the advertisers. I don't think they'd mind the FBI going in and finding out who's doing this and whether they're going over the line.

GONZALES: And we're doing that, Bill.

O'REILLY: OK, good.

GONZALES: Where we can, we certainly are doing it. But again, we have to be careful about reaching in and monitoring access to perfectly innocent communications, perfectly legal web sites. But we are working very, very hard, taking advantage of new technology, to bring down these terrible sites.

O'REILLY: I understand that the — this is a very complicated issue. Now, you do have a message for all the folks, everybody watching tonight. And you want them to help you. Why don't you just tell everybody what you want them to do.

GONZALES: I think people need to understand how pervasive this problem is, particularly over the internet. This really is a war against the innocence of our children and this is not a problem that can be solved solely by the law enforcement community. We've been given additional good tools by the Congress recent — most recently in the Adam Walsh Child Protection Act.

But it requires the cooperation of all the federal law enforcement authorities, state and local law enforcement authorities, victim advocacy groups, the business community, but particularly parents. We need to have parents be aware of the dangers of children getting on the internet.

And so this is the message that I want your viewers to understand. We've got some good programs, primarily Project Safe Childhood, where we're developing partnerships with state and local groups around the country so that we can get the message out, so that we can provide training, so that we can do joint prosecutions.

O'REILLY: All right. Well, good for you. This has to be a concerted effort on the part of everybody. I always tell parents, no unsupervised computer access for any kid under 16. No computers in the bedroom where you can't see it. It's always got to be in a community area where everybody knows.

And then you've got to use the chips. You've got to block some of sites and you've got to go in and you've got to know when your kid's been. And you've got to become computer savvy yourself, because you're right.

I mean, the parents of America, this thing, it cuts across every line. There's just no profile, and any kid can get sucked into it.

So good luck, Mr. Attorney General. Anything we can do to help you, let us know. OK?

GONZALES: Thank you so much.


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