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US Homeland Security

09 December 2004, 0:00

US Homeland Security

Admiral James Loy is Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.  Admiral Loy formerly served as the Administrator of the Transportation Security Administration until he was nominated by President Bush in October.

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Thank you, Rear Admiral Cobbold, for that warm introduction.  I’m honored to be here today to address this venerable institute.  

For nearly 175 years, this group of dedicated thinkers has helped define a discourse on matters of defense and security – for this island and the entire international community. And I found it interesting to note that RUSI was established, paradoxically, during a time of general peace and military stability for Britain. It shows the impressive foresight of the Duke of Wellington who, on the heels of a dominating wartime victory, did not grow complacent after defeating Napoleon. Rather, he saw an opportunity to study the lessons of the past in preparation for the future.  I think that we have awoken from a similar period following the Cold War – a period in which the world grew complacent after the fall of communism.

On September 11th, we were shocked to find out that we had spent 50 years winning the Cold War only to be left with a stockpile of weapons, processes, and diplomatic structures that are of little utility in the new security environment.  We discovered that we would have to adapt to this new enemy, transform our defense and security abilities, and rely ever increasingly on our partners around the world. I know President Bush conveyed the depth of our appreciation for the solidarity of the British government when he visited RUSI last year – and many times since. And on behalf of Secretary Ridge and myself, I would like to echo the President’s sentiments. The friendship between our countries runs deep and is built upon the strongest of foundations – a common belief in the power of freedom to change the world.

Following World War II, Winston Churchill made a trip across the Atlantic to discuss our common future. He spoke to the thinkers and leaders of tomorrow at Westminster College in the United States – young people preparing to lead the world after the devastation of the war. In addition to his famous words about the “iron curtain,” Churchill used this “Sinews of Peace” speech to discuss an “over-all strategic concept” for the strength of the American and British alliance.

He said that strategic concept “is nothing less than the safety and welfare, the freedom and progress, of all the homes and families – of all the men and women – in all the lands.” He was not one to understate.

But as I made the reverse trip across the ocean that embraces both of our nations to address the thinkers and leaders of today here at RUSI, I couldn’t help but think of Churchill’s prophetic call for an alliance of English-speaking peoples that would protect the world from war and tyranny.

As we gather today, we face a critical moment in history – another test for liberty and democracy.  While the 20th century saw the defeat of movements that mounted challenges to freedom – Nazism, Fascism, Communism – the opening of the 21st century has brought forward a far more menacing danger – with the potential for far more horrifying consequences. International terrorism is the “new totalitarian threat.”

And unlike the past, we now face an enemy with no flag, no borders, no president, nothing but deeply held hatred and a desire to see our countries – and our citizens – harmed.  We face an enemy that seeks chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons with which to wreak untold havoc in our cities, against our nations, and at the expense of the innocent.    

Such an enemy requires the biggest fight of our lives...for the very sake of our lives...and our freedoms.  And as we know all too well from the terrorist attacks in Bali, Baghdad, Istanbul, Madrid and again recently in Saudi Arabia – terrorism is not just a threat to America and to Europe…it is a global enemy that requires a global response.  

We are again facing the task of Churchill’s overall strategic concept. And we are again doing so with the combined military and moral strength of our two nations – workmen, as Churchill described, laboring together to build a Temple of Peace. Or, adopted for our times, a Temple of Peace – and Security.

It is no coincidence that the threat to the stability and peace of the world has coincided with the globalization of technology, transportation, commerce and communication.  The same benefits enjoyed by freedom-loving people across the world are available to terrorists as well.  That means that terrorists themselves have greater mobility, more targets and more places to hide than ever before.

So to fight back, we too must exploit our assets. We must utilize diplomacy, intelligence, law enforcement and asset seizure – a multi-tooled approach to a multinational problem.  We must enlist stronger collaboration and cooperation, and improved information-sharing, both within nations and between them. We must investigate and prosecute.  We must use every available tool to repel these shadow soldiers.

One of the most valuable tools in our arsenal is strong partnerships – partnerships both national and global in scope…partnerships that build barriers to terrorists and build bridges to one another…partnerships that knit us ever closer together and eliminate gaps our enemies could otherwise exploit.  And no partnership is stronger that that between Britain and the United States.  In nearly every field of human endeavor, we are bound together by our common interests, common goals, and mutual respect.

We both value freedom and liberty above all else – and wish to secure these blessings for our citizens. We both realize that security – for our individual countries and for freedom throughout the world – must rely on collective action. As airplanes connect family and friends across oceans, and cargo ships make ports of call around the world – we must find ways to work together to reduce our common vulnerabilities to terrorist attack.

When George Marshall spoke to Harvard University for the first time about his plans for the reconstruction of Europe following World War II, he said: “with foresight, and a willingness on the part of our people to face up to the vast responsibility which history has clearly placed upon our country, the difficulties I have outlined can and will be overcome.”

We have a task in front of us not unlike that faced by Secretary Marshall – a task driven by social, human, and economic concerns – a task to rid the scourge of terrorism from our world – and it will take both the willingness and cooperation of all freedom-loving nations to see that task through to completion.  Already, in pursuit of this mission, we have seen unprecedented cooperation at the international level.  

As we move into the traditional holiday period, I am immediately reminded of our work together last year at this time. That high-threat holiday brought gifts of its own – and I am not talking about spending Christmas morning with your co-workers, as many of us did. We unwrapped the strength of our unity – and just as important – the depth of our ability to work effectively together.  We were tested and I had no doubt that we would pass.  

I am sure that our success together is largely thanks to the work of the U.S.–U.K. Joint Contact Group on Homeland Security. We are here for the fourth official meeting of this working group to continue to develop synergies between our efforts. On a broad range of topics, this true working group has fostered daily coordination between our homeland security offices and our embassies – thousands of informal contacts that form the true backbone of our partnership.

This Joint Contact Group has allowed us to share information and best practices. It has allowed us to learn from one another, such as the cooperation between our Urban Search and Rescue team and the U.K. New Dimension Program. It has provided the opportunity to develop programs and technologies that work together, such as the integration of our Homeland Security Information Network and the developments of an international standard for biometrics.

In fact, last night I had the occasion to sign an Agreement with Secretary Blunkett to enhance the cooperation between our science and technology experts on issues relating to homeland security. And the JCG has eased the way for concrete collaborations that make our people and places more secure, such as the Container Security Initiative.  

In the area of port and maritime security, we have made marked progress with programs such as the Container Security Initiative.  Since the launch of CSI, we now have Homeland Security inspectors working alongside our partners to target and screen cargo in 32 international ports from Vancouver to Rotterdam to Hong Kong – and including Felixtowe as well as across the channel at Le Havre, France. And this Sunday that list will grow to include the Middle Eastern port of Dubai.  

With the use of large-scale gamma ray and x-ray imaging systems, Homeland Security officers can safely and efficiently screen for contraband, including weapons of mass destruction.  These units can scan the interior of a full-size, 40-foot container in under one minute.  In this way, we are able to enhance the security of our nations without sacrificing the free and swift flow of commerce on which our economies depend.    

In the past, efforts to secure the vast global shipping industry – both in America and throughout the world – were isolated, scattered and uncoordinated. A port of origin might inspect cargo manifests, but ignore physical securities around their port. While a port of arrival might employ security personnel, but fail to double-check container contents or crew credentials.  As a result, the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code was developed.  

For the first time ever, this international effort establishes one world standard for ship and port security. It will help create a culture of security at ports around the world and mandate specific improvements.  Adherence to this code will increase our ability – and that of our neighbors – to prevent terrorists from attacking our ports or using ships as weapons.  The development of this code is a real example of the type of international partnership and engagement we must achieve to get results for the security of our nations.  

While we have accomplished much together, we can not allow past success to lull us again into complacency.  The terrorists are constantly at work – adaptable and untiring – and so we must not let up.  We must continue to rise to new levels of security and protection for our nations and peoples.  Especially, in the areas of port and border security, we have an opportunity to go even further in building up our defenses.  By utilizing our collective strength, sharing information, and integrating people and technology more completely we can improve both the free flow of trade and travelers as well as enhance our security.

About ninety percent of all world cargo moves in and out of international ports in containers. CSI and the ISPS are a good start, as I have mentioned, but for the sake of security and prosperity, we must take additional steps to secure cargo – and, along with it, the foundation for global commerce.  

A good place to start – as we have in the past – is with a commitment to standards. I hope that freedom-loving nations around the world can come together, perhaps as soon as this year, to cooperate closely in enhancing container security.  Such cooperation through relevant institutions such as the World Customs Organization could include the development of common standards and consistent procedures that would allow countries to build upon existing protections and incorporate new advanced technologies to make shipping containers – and the ports they reach – more secure than ever before.

For instance, we could identify and establish the methods by which we transmit, check, and share documents – ensuring maximum authenticity and efficiency. This process could – and should – allow businesses to demonstrate to port officials and inspectors that ships or containers are carrying legitimate commercial goods.

However, process and procedures are not enough – we need new technologies as well.  Technologies such as electronic seals and container tracking devices offer additional protections against container tampering – thus further securing our ports and ships from attack.

Next week, our Homeland Security department is hosting a Cargo Summit to address many of these issues and develop a comprehensive strategy that reflects, among other things, the importance of international cooperation to secure this vital supply chain.  

Just as we can utilize advanced technology and unprecedented cooperation to secure our ports, we can do the same at our land borders and points of entry. A next step in making our borders more secure is our joint work to promote travel document security – studying, collaborating, engaging in dialogue and planning together to incorporate interoperable biometric indicators on passports and visas.

I think we all agree that biometrics can be a useful security tool…allowing us to accurately identify and cross check travelers – and potential terrorists – before they enter our countries.

In America, we have already seen through our US VISIT program that biometric information can provide an added layer of security, while at the same time bringing travelers across our borders with greater ease and convenience.  

Since the beginning of the year, US VISIT has processed more than 13 million legitimate passengers and since the program began more than 200 criminals and immigration violators have been stopped at our borders.

However, to apply the use of biometrics globally, we must develop a set of international standards for capturing, analyzing, storing, reading, sharing and protecting biometric data in order to ensure maximum interoperability between systems – and maximum privacy for our citizens.

The ICAO is in the process of developing such a set of standards.  The Department of Homeland Security believes that the technical standards should include both facial recognition and finger scan requirements.  It is in the interest of all countries to begin as quickly as possible to issue travel documents with biometric indicators…for they can and will make us more secure. This work must include all necessary guidelines to protect privacy rights and civil liberties.

Despite great progress, I think we can all agree that there is still plenty of work left to be done. Finding the right security paradigm for our vast, interconnected global environment is an ongoing and ever-developing task. No doubt, there are more and better ideas and solutions in the future – solutions that will require even more coordination and cooperation between our countries.

Across the world, nations are struggling to grapple with the threat of terrorism and there are solutions being developed to combat this threat that can offer a springboard to guide our own efforts.  

For example, countries in the Asia-Pacific region have committed themselves to developing a robust electronic travel alert system, starting with the real-time sharing of lost and stolen passport information.  They have undertaken this effort as an approach to ensure the mobility of business people who need to travel in a safe environment where innovative systems can be developed to immediately and accurately distinguish legitimate travelers.

The same approach to assuring the flow of commerce is seen in their Secure Trade in the APEC Region Initiative, known as STAR.  In many respects dovetailing with CSI and ISPI, STAR addresses the challenges of maintaining a robust regional economy that is not slowed or hampered by the necessary security measures that must be in place to keep terrorists out.  Importantly, there is an effort to work collectively and to provide support to individual members to ensure that security standards can be met.

These are just a couple of examples, but the important point is that by remaining engaged and working closely with the entire international community, we can find ways to adapt workable solutions to our own anti-terror efforts on our respective home fronts.  

I have found a cascading notion to the work between the United States and Great Britain. What begins as an idea between our nations often ends up in the policies of the G8, the European Union, the OSCE and, eventually, spreads around the globe. Perhaps it’s no different than when Churchill proposed our great alliance, bound together by the sinews of peace. He argued that it would strengthen the resolve of freedom-loving nations and, ultimately, would strengthen the United Nations. He was right.

At every turning point in history, one of the most important lessons we have learned is the imperative need for transformation. No matter who stands guard at that moment…the Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill, or Tony Blair and George W. Bush…we must learn, study, evaluate…and transform. That is your work here at RUSI…it is the work of the Joint Contact Group…and it is the work of the United States and Great Britain in their entirety.

We have had to shift from focusing on a traditional enemy…to ferreting out a shadowy organization – which means not only engaging in military operations to uncover terrorists – but also engaging in operations to shut down the financial schemes and networks that support terrorism and to shut down the means and methods they use to recruit the young to their cause of hate.  

We’ve come to recognize that unlike wars of the past civilians and the military must work together for the common defense.  Homeland security is not just the work of trained soldiers – it is the work of law enforcement officers, firefighters, scientists, and citizens who prepare their families and remain ever vigilant.  

And just as our nation has evolved to meet this new threat…our alliances…this alliance has evolved as well.  With a new enemy has come a new focus and new challenges for the U.S.-U.K. relationship.  While the ideals laid out by Churchill have not altered, the tactics and means by which we secure those ideals are rapidly changing.  

Anti-terror measures, civil defense issues, vaccine production, rapid deployment of resources in the event of an attack, the ramifications of a dirty bomb or nuclear attack on one of our countries or allies, these are among the challenges with which we are grappling.  All of you in this room understand what’s at stake in this the great challenge of our time.  Our fathers and our grandfathers stood tall on their watch. This task is ours. And it is our responsibility to see it through to completion.  

The Great Communicator from our side of the pond, Ronald Reagan, once said, “The ultimate determinant in the struggle now going on for the world will not be bombs and rockets but a test of wills and ideas – a trial of spiritual resolve: the values we hold, the beliefs we cherish and the ideals to which we are dedicated.”  Those words were spoken in a different time to characterize a different war – but they could just as easily have been spoken yesterday to characterize the war we now fight together.   The victory in the Cold War came about as a result of a robust international effort and an unquenchable desire for freedom.  

 And that is the same path that will lead us to victory once again.  

 Thank you.

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