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Homeland Security

13 January 2005

U.S., EU Security Depends on Collective Fight Against Terrorism

Secretary Ridge addresses European Policy Centre in Brussels

Security for both the United States and the European Union depends on collective action in the fight against terrorism, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said January 13 at the European Policy Centre in Brussels, Belgium.

Ridge announced that the United States will establish a full-time attache from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to the European Union. "This new position is not only symbolic of our commitment to increased cooperation, but, by having a direct link between the Secretary and negotiating partners across Europe, it will allow for constant communication on an operational level," he said.

In addition to reviewing security advances since DHS began formal outreach to the European community in 2002 -- such as the Container Security Initiative - Ridge said he has learned some valuable lessons.

For example, during the holiday period of 2003 when some international flights to the United States were canceled because of terrorist threats, DHS had been dealing directly with the airlines; however, they discovered that "there was a more effective way to deal with threats to international aviation .... the primary means of communication must be from government to government."

"It was an experience that reinforced our understanding of the value and necessity of the international partnerships we'd been working diligently to build," Ridge said.

Looking ahead, he cited the need for greater information sharing between nations and the utilization of more advanced technologies, and he called for common international biometrics standards.

Ridge noted approvingly the recent establishment in the United States of a registered traveler program that enables individuals to provide biometric and biographic information voluntarily, as well as the launching of the first international pilot of this program at Schipol Airport in the Netherlands on January 13.

The registered traveler program enables participating travelers to move more quickly through customs checkpoints.

"The Trans Atlantic Partnership and the international community would benefit greatly from an agreement on a set of international standards for capturing, analyzing, storing, reading, sharing and protecting this sensitive information, ensuring maximum interoperability between systems...and maximum privacy for our citizens," Ridge said.

He will soon be leaving his position as secretary of homeland security. President Bush has named assistant attorney general and former appeals court judge Michael Chertoff as Ridge's successor, subject to congressional confirmation.

Following is the text of Ridge's remarks as provided by the U.S. Mission to the EU:

(begin text)

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Brussels, Belgium
January 13, 2005


Thank you Mr. Crossick for that warm introduction. I'm grateful for the opportunity to address such a distinguished group about the far-reaching and international implications of the homeland security mission. Now more than ever, we need dedicated leaders and thinkers to help shape the discourse and define the way ahead as we confront the menace of international terrorism.

The European Policy Center serves a valuable role in this effort providing a vibrant forum for the free and open exchange of ideas - which truly is one of our foremost instruments for fostering a peaceful and cooperative global security environment.

The United States shares an important partnership with the European Union - and her member nations. In nearly every field of human endeavor, we are bound together by our common interests, common goals and mutual respect.

We both realize that security - for our individual countries and for freedom throughout the world - must rely on collective action. The defeat of international terrorism will take nothing less.

Though hardly a new phenomenon...fear and terror have always been the weapons wielded by those who would oppress the innocent and enslave the free. Many nations have a long history of facing down the indiscriminate evil that is terrorism.

Yet as the world community has become more connected through the globalization of technology, transportation, commerce and communication, the benefits of these advances enjoyed by each of us are available to terrorists as well. With greater mobility, more targets and more places to hide than ever before, the terrorists have become emboldened to strike with increased frequency and with far more devastating consequences than ever before.

The tragic events of 9/11 were the opening sally in this new chapter of terrorism. That dark day forever changed our nation, and also illustrated to the world the scope and scale of which terrorists are now capable. Subsequent attacks in Madrid, Beslan, Bali and Jakarta, Istanbul and Baghdad have hammered home that what was once the purview of individual nations is now the responsibility of every nation that stands on the side of hope and liberty.

The scourge of global terrorism requires the strength of a global response. And the means to confront the terrorist threat successfully rests in our ability to engage the world community, work together multilaterally and foster healthy dialogue and strategic cooperation among allies. As we have seen with the recent tsunami disaster, when tragedy strikes, its impacts are felt far and wide. The loss of so many lives...mothers, fathers, children...gone in an is a powerful reminder. A reminder that we are indeed one people. That at the end of the day our differences do not outweigh the humanity that defines and binds us. And that the most effective course to protect our citizens and our homelands is the one we pursue together. This is the defining notion that has and must continue to govern our approach to homeland security in the United States.

Following the attacks of 9-11, even as we set out a national strategy to deal with a wide range of issues around the notion that we need to prevent, detect, respond and recover from acts of terrorism. We knew instinctively that there was an international need and opportunity. An opportunity to build relationships that would prove mutually beneficial to the protection of our people and economies. Within the national strategy, as we outlined domestic security priorities, it became clear that our efforts to secure America would not succeed without international collaboration.

Something that I will always remember as Secretary was the impact of the first question that was asked to me at the first town meeting I had with employees of the new Homeland Security Department before we even opened the doors. A gentleman stood up, approached the microphone and asked, "What are the international implications of homeland security?" I expected the first question to be about benefits or integration challenges. Instead, I saw that here was someone that gets it. Visionary and prescient, this person already had a real understanding not only of the reach of our organization but also the importance of international partnerships. The knowledge that homeland security is more than just the integration of a nation...but the integration of nations. And the recognition that we are all more secure in solidarity, working together in unified effort versus a patchwork of unilateral actions.

As we have come together to defend our homelands from new dangers - America and Europe - have built upon the common heritage and close ties we share to guide our mutual security efforts. We have and must continue to cultivate this relationship, striving every day to confront challenges large and small, share information and best practices, and develop next generation technologies to protect us today and long into the future. Of course, the first element of a strong partnership is sustained cooperation. That's why I'm pleased to announce that the United States will establish a full-time attache from the Department of Homeland Security to the European Union.

This new position is not only symbolic of our commitment to increased cooperation, but, by having a direct link between the Secretary and negotiating partners across Europe, it will allow for constant communication on an operational level. The Homeland Security attache will enable us to make decisions faster and ramp up security more easily by working in the arena side by side, rather than across an ocean. The United States and the EU share a desire to improve the protections for all of our nations' homelands, while promoting the free flow of legitimate travel and trade and protecting civil liberties. And in doing so we are stronger and more effective together than apart. Indeed it is because of our work together as an international partners...that we have been able to travel an incredible distance in a short amount of time.

Back in November of 2002, we began our first formal outreach to the European community during a trip to Brussels and London. At the time, what began as fruitful bilateral and multilateral discussions have now resulted in hard outcomes and tremendous security advances. And over the past two years, a remarkable record of accomplishment has been achieved. In the area of maritime security, we have made marked progress with programs such as the Container Security Initiative. During that November trip, in fact, CSI only existed as a pilot in Rotterdam where U.S. Customs inspectors were working alongside their Dutch counterparts to target and screen cargo.

Since that time, the United States and European Union signed an agreement to expand CSI throughout the European Community and increase cooperation and mutual assistance on other customs matters. So what began in Rotterdam as a bilateral initiative has now grown to include Antwerp and Zeebrugge here in Belgium, as well as Le Havre, Marseilles, Naples, and 28 other locations around the world.

In addition, efforts to secure the vast global shipping industry that were once isolated and scattered are now coordinated under the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code developed by the IMO and put in place this July. For the first time ever, this international effort establishes one world standard for ship and port security. It helps create a culture of security at ports around the world and mandates specific security improvements and safeguards.

On a daily basis, we share information about a variety of threats that greatly aids our efforts to remain ahead of our creative and determined enemy.

From a personal perspective, through the work and negotiations during my time as Secretary there are two specific accomplishments we made together that also provided valuable lessons learned.

During the holiday period of 2003, we came into possession of intelligence that terrorists might attempt to take over several international flights, and as a result issued emergency aviation amendments. We began to deal directly with the airlines and learned there was a more effective way to deal with threats to international aviation.

The lesson was quite simple -- that the primary means of communication must be from government to government. It was an experience that reinforced our understanding of the value and necessity of the international partnerships we'd been working diligently to build.

The second lesson was learned during our negotiations with the EU to address mutual privacy concerns governing the transfer of sensitive passenger name record - or PNR - data on flights between Europe and the United States.

And that lesson was ...even though we may have differences of opinion, the place from where we start is often closer than we think.

For example, the American public cares about privacy rights as deeply as Europeans do. And while negotiations were intense, the ultimate PNR agreement that emerged reflects the shared value both Europeans and Americans place on civil liberties.

Having access to PNR data will facilitate the entry of legitimate travelers and expedite the entry of the vast majority of visitors who travel throughout the world without any malicious intent, while helping to identify people who could pose a threat to passengers on the flight or to the security of our countries or evil design.

To ensure that the privacy protections we put in place are sufficient, in the coming months, the United States and EU will conduct our first joint review of how we use PNR in our counter-terrorism efforts.

And let me be clear: all of the additional security capabilities that we are building have not, cannot and will not ever come at the expense of our fundamental values or individual liberties. Our shared values and our shared liberties.

We should never underestimate our commonality - the collective commitment to freedom that propels our sense of urgency to come together, debate complex issues and work through difficult, mutual problems.

For as we draw closer together and build bridges to one another...those partnerships build barriers to terrorists and eliminate the gaps our enemies could otherwise exploit. In the span of several years, we have witnessed firsthand the progress that can be gained when we bring the full force or our collective strength to bear on the challenges at hand.

So, we must continue to chart our way forward...and the way forward is honestly more of the same.

Relationships have to get stronger. Information sharing must become more swift and transparent. Public communication must be improved. Emergency response protocols must be honed. And the latest science and most advanced technologies must continue to be sought out and utilized.

To that end, common international standards of biometrics must be developed...the sooner the better. Biometrics is a tremendous technological tool that can not only accurately identify and cross check travelers - and potential terrorists - before they enter our countries, but also provide increased travel document security and important identity protections.

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 bring travelers across our borders with greater ease and convenience.

Since the beginning of the year, US-VISIT has processed more than 17 million legitimate passengers. And since the program began more than 370 criminals and immigration violators have been stopped at our borders.

More recently, we've established a registered traveler program that provides travelers an opportunity to provide biometric and biographic information voluntarily that can be used to perform a security check against law enforcement and terrorist watch lists.

A fingerprint or iris scan is all that is then needed for quick passenger identification and expedited processing through security. I've enrolled in the program myself, and I can tell you it is a great tool that helps move low-risk travelers more efficiently so that security resources can be focused elsewhere, where the need is greater.

The program has proven widely popular and successful in the United States and later this afternoon we will launch the first international pilot over at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands.

The Trans Atlantic Partnership and the international community would benefit greatly from an agreement on a set of international standards for capturing, analyzing, storing, reading, sharing and protecting this sensitive information, ensuring maximum interoperability between systems...and maximum privacy for our citizens.

Moving forward we must also remain aware of other agendas beyond homeland security that need to be addressed in this ongoing conflict.

Dismantling the terrorist threat is not possible unless we make the necessary investments to root out and stop terrorism at the source.

And through the seizure of terrorist assets, disruption of cells, a continuation of the arrests in which the European community has been so active, and the sacrifices of brave soldiers who are liberating the oppressed and transforming terrorist havens with the seeds of democracy...together we are making significant inroads...together we are getting it done.

In addition, as we were reminded in a meeting this past September with U.K. officials understanding terrorist enemies is the key to their defeat. We must come to know how do terrorist groups form and operate? How do they grow and sustain themselves? These are important questions, and that's why early this week we allocated $12 million to one of our universities to study the behavioral and social aspects of terrorism.

If we do not address the cause that fuels this barbaric and merciless movement, then we can not stop the cycle of young boys and girls who are at this moment being indoctrinated in hate and manipulated into acts of terror.

The way ahead holds immense undertakings, yet paved with limitless opportunity we can see our way toward a boundless future of security and peace...but only if we do so together.

In the end, the struggle against terror is not a test of military strength, but a test of will...a test of fortitude. The terrorists have no plans to surrender their arms in the near future. On the contrary, this will be a long, hard fight.

A fight that will test the strength of our nations, the strength of our alliances, and the strength of our citizens.

But we have faced hard fights before, from the shores of Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge to the long winter of the Cold War. As allies we have continued to push forward and hold fast to our mutual belief in the power of freedom and democracy.

Economist John Maynard Keynes once said, "Ideas shape the course of history."

And throughout history, the great ideas of one age do not always survive the new. In just the past century, we have witnessed the rise of subversive ideas...nazism, fascism, communism...and we have also lived to see their defeat.

A defeat won by those who clung to a different idea that has weathered the storms, endured through centuries and thrives today. An idea that brings hope to the oppressed, light to the dark places of the world and comfort to all who live under its watch.

Freedom is a conquering ideal. It is the idea that shapes our history, the cause that strengthens our resolve, the place from where we start.

So as we press onward...our course stretches out ever clear before us, our touch point ever fixed...toward the hope of a future of prosperity, security and peace that is closer than we think.

Until that day dawns, we will not rest, we will not waiver, we will not relent in the fight against international terrorism, and by working together across all nations that share a love for liberty...we will triumph.

Thank you.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:

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