Neil H. MacBride has been sworn in as the 59th U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.

"Neil serves as an integral part of my Justice Department team," said Attorney General Eric Holder following Friday's swearing in ceremony. "I will repeatedly call on this new U.S. Attorney, my friend, as we strive to keep this nation safe."

MacBride, who was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in September, now heads a key U.S. District Court - one known for housing trials against terrorists and corrupt congressmen. His new office is under consideration for receiving and holding trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees.

"The highest priority of this Justice Department, and this Attorney General, is to protect the American people from terrorists," MacBride said. "Last week the Attorney General asked this District to again join forces with the Southern District of New York to hold accountable the alleged terrorists who orchestrated the (Sept. 11, 2001) attacks."

The newly anointed U.S. Attorney oversees an office with more than 200 attorneys and support staff in Alexandria, Richmond, Newport News and Norfolk, in a jurisdiction with 4.7 million residents.

"I'm fortunate to stand on the shoulders of the great men and women who came before me," MacBride said. "I am honored to be part of this Justice Department."

For MacBride, the move represents a return to his beginnings. Seventeen years ago he served as law clerk for U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan in Norfolk, who swore MacBride in Friday. It was MacBride's first job after graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law.

Before serving as U.S. Attorney, MacBride was associate deputy attorney at the Department of Justice, working on criminal justice and law enforcement issues. He has also worked as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, trying homicide, drug and firearms cases.