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Secretary Napolitano's Remarks on "Our Shared Responsibility: The Importance of Strong International Homeland Security Partnerships"

Release Date: 
December 2, 2011

Paris, France
Institut des Hautes Études de Défense Nationale
(Remarks as Prepared)

For more information, see these fact sheets on DHS' International Engagement and International Footprint.

Thank you, Vice Admiral Laborde, for that warm welcome. I’m happy to be here today. I want to thank the Institute for Higher National Defence Studies for inviting me to address this prestigious forum, and for the opportunity to speak in Paris, given the strong partnership between our two nations.

The United States and France have a history as old as our republics of cooperation to protect the security and rights of our citizens.

Today, we live in a globalized world, connected by myriad complex networks; a world in which the movement of people, goods, and ideas never stops.

This openness and movement fuel the tremendous opportunities of our networked age. But, they also bring additional security challenges, requiring increased international partnerships and collaboration.

These challenges – from terrorism and violent crime, to trafficking of humans and the smuggling of illicit goods, to cyber threats, violent extremism and new pandemic diseases – are evolving rapidly. They require nimble action by multiple nations and many partners.

“Homeland security” is where we address these kinds of threats with preparation and prevention, and with quick, informed responses.

Though the mission of the agency I lead— the Department of Homeland Security— is domestic security, achieving that requires efforts that extend beyond our borders. Because today’s threats do not recognize national boundaries, our responses must also transcend borders.

In a globalized economy, our international responsibilities have become critical not only to our physical security, but our economic security as well.

Today, the very nature of travel, trade, and commerce means that one vulnerability or gap anywhere across the globe can impact security thousands of miles away. That means our security must be a shared responsibility – among governments, the private sector, individuals and communities.

That is why I believe that this global homeland security enterprise—comprising strong international engagement, and cooperative partnerships among our nations and international organizations— is, more than ever, absolutely essential to the security of all.

Today, I would like to discuss how DHS views the role of international security partnerships in countering the threats we face.

I also want to note some of the remarkable progress that – together with partners like France and the G6 nations – we have helped to achieve.

And I want to lay out what I see as the major challenges we may face together in coming years.

When the military academies of our respective nations were formed, they trained generals and admirals to lead armies and navies against those of other nations.

Today, homeland security professionals work under very different conditions, confronting different threats with different tools and responses.

We recognize that a terrorist attack, pandemic disease, or major disruption to our supply chain can exact large economic consequences beyond simply physical damage, not to mention the tremendous impact on our citizens.

And we know that helping communities – people, businesses, local governments and law enforcement – be better prepared for a crisis and better able to bounce back from one – pays large dividends as well.

Today, we are even more interconnected. Our homeland security – like yours – is inextricably linked to the rest of the world. We simply cannot be secure at home without thoughtful engagement abroad.

This applies not just to the prevention of terrorism, but to enhancing the security of international travel and to protecting the free and secure flow of commerce.

DHS has personnel stationed in 75 different countries, the third-largest civilian footprint of any U.S. agency working overseas.

We work bilaterally with nations, as well as with major multilateral bodies and organizations to strengthen the security of the networks of global trade and travel upon which our nations’ economies and communities rely.

I am particularly grateful that we have established strong partnerships and regular communications with the interior ministers and home ministers of our neighbors to the North and South, across Europe, and in other corners of the world.

Given the complex and evolving range of threats to nations in this international community, these homeland security and justice partnerships have become an essential element in the success of our shared security.

Let me say a few words about some of these international efforts and partnerships that my Department is engaged in.

Our responsibilities extend to the full range of threats, including: terrorism and organized violent crime; narcotics smuggling and human trafficking; proliferation of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons; and emerging threats from cyberspace.

We have personnel who work with their international counterparts to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations engaged in money laundering, child exploitation, intellectual property rights violations, and human trafficking.

We have officers stationed abroad who work in coordination with the governments of our international partners to identify known or suspected terrorists and other high risk travelers.

We have personnel who inspect airports overseas with flights to the United States to ensure they’re in compliance with international security standards.

We have personnel who enforce sanctions and investigate illicit networks involved in nuclear and other weapons proliferation.

And in all of these areas, that includes DHS personnel here in France.

We also have Coast Guard personnel who assess seaports and shipping companies that trade with the United States, and interdict drugs and human smuggling near our shores.

In each case, this work is done in cooperation with our international counterparts—we are constantly learning from the expertise and experience of our partners.

So for example, DHS has officers stationed in Afghanistan as part of the “civilian surge” lead by the U.S. Department of State.

These professionals are mentoring Afghan border guards, providing training at the Customs Academy we helped establish, and using cash-counting machines at Kabul airport to help detect money laundering.

In Europe, the U.S. Secret Service is working with our international partners to combat computer-based threats to our financial payment systems and critical infrastructures, with Electronic Crimes Task Forces in Rome and London.

To learn more and share information about best practices for countering violent extremism, we are working with our counterparts in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, and with the EU.

And we are also now working with Europol on sharing ways for frontline law enforcement to recognize behaviors associated with violent extremism.

In all these efforts, in addition to our international partners, we work closely with our U.S. Federal partners from the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and others; and with the FBI.

It is important to understand that this kind of international cooperation and coordination – the global homeland security enterprise – has become absolutely essential to dealing with the complexity and interconnectedness of our networks for finance, travel, trade, and communications, among others.

And, of course, it is the reliability, security and accessibility of these networks upon which our global economy stands.

Let me offer an example of these international partnerships in a bit more detail. This week, my counterpart, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant, and I reiterated our support for a critical agreement between the U.S. and EU on information sharing and aviation security.

Under U.S. law, DHS requires airlines flying to the United States from other countries to provide basic information on all passengers, such as name, date of birth, citizenship or nationality, and passport number, and also information we call Passenger Name Record, or PNR.

We have used this and other information to identify and target both known and unknown individuals that are either a threat to aviation, or the United States.

In fact, during 2008 and 2009, PNR information helped the United States identify high-risk individuals in more than 3,000 cases.

In fiscal year 2010, approximately one quarter of those individuals denied entry to the United States who appeared high-risk were initially identified through analysis of PNR.

PNR analysis has also played a critical role in recent terrorism investigations, including those of: Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty to plotting to bomb New York subways; David Coleman Headley, who pled guilty for his role in the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks and was suspected of planning attacks in Europe; and Faisal Shahzad, who pled guilty in the 2010 bombing attempt against Times Square in New York.

Right now, DHS and the European Union are completing a new U.S.-EU PNR agreement that improves the privacy protection and security benefits of the 2007 U.S.-EU PNR Agreement currently in effect.

The new PNR Agreement includes a number of innovative solutions to protect the civil liberties and privacy of the traveling public. These include: a tiered retention system that limits access to most travelers’ PNR to 6 months, while ensuring historical data remains available to fight crime and terrorism, thus protecting both privacy and security; a roadmap for travelers to access and correct their data and seek redress, including their entitlement to petition U.S. courts; and improved reciprocity between U.S. and European law enforcement agencies to collaborate on investigations and threats to public safety.

The agreement requires approval by the Council of the European Union and ratification by the European Parliament. We are calling on Member States of the European Union and the European Parliament to approve the agreement as expeditiously as possible.

So what’s on the horizon, and how do we build on our progress?

I believe that two areas present themselves: the first is working together to enhance protection of cyberspace and the cyber systems and networks that are central to global trade, travel, and communication. The second is protecting the global supply chain from exploitation and disruption.

Without a secure cyberspace, many aspects of modern life – our economies, our health care systems, our transportation and communications networks – would grind to a complete halt.

An increasing number of cyber threats encompass a broad range of activity, from denial of service attacks to attempts to steal intellectual property to intrusions against government networks and systems that control critical infrastructure.

We also face a range of cybercrimes, including the exploitation of children online and banking and financial fraud.

This past April, I was in Budapest during the European Cybercrime Forum to discuss our partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice and the EU under the auspices of the U.S.-EU Working Group on Cybersecurity and Cybercrime.

This group focuses on managing cybersecurity incidents, enhancing public-private partnerships, raising awareness about cyber threats, and combating cybercrime.

And most recently – in November – we held the first ever joint transatlantic tabletop exercise with our EU counterparts to evaluate joint responses to cyber incidents and examine ways to enhance international collaboration.

My department has two specific roles in this effort. The first is protecting U.S. federal civilian government agencies’ cyber networks. The second is leading the protection of critical infrastructure and its connections to cyberspace.

This requires a full range of partners – including other U.S. government agencies, the private sector, individual users of the Internet, and international partners like France and EU countries.

This past May, the United States released a new International Strategy for Cyberspace to provide a blueprint for building an international framework to make cyberspace secure and reliable.

This strategy is not just a U.S. initiative. It is an invitation to other countries, organizations and people to join us in building global networks that are open to new innovations, interoperable, secure, and reliable.

At the same time, it prioritizes the protection of fundamental freedoms as well as privacy in cyberspace.

And finally – through a public education campaign called, “Stop. Think. Connect.” – we have been reiterating a call to action for all sectors of society to play their part in making cyberspace more secure. The goal is to make basic cybersecurity practices as reflexive as putting on a seatbelt.

This involves working with the private sector to increase its efforts to improve the reliability and resiliency of its products, and also with the academic community to continue to teach students of all ages the importance of safety in cyberspace.

In addition to our efforts to secure cyberspace, we are working closely with our EU partners on a Global Supply Chain Security Initiative to protect the vast amounts of goods and commerce that move across the world every day, driving the global economy.

In June of this year, the U.S. and EU signed a joint statement on supply chain security expressing our commitment to enhancing protection of our global systems of trade and commerce.

Since that time, there has been rapid progress. DHS and the EU are nearing conclusion of a mutual recognition agreement between trade partnership programs, so that trusted traders will have expedited treatment on both sides of the Atlantic; we have agreed that the World Customs Organization should determine what advance information for cargo should be provided, so that countries can analyze the data and determine what needs extra scrutiny before it is loaded on an aircraft; and we have begun jointly testing radiological and nuclear detection technologies to international standards to determine whether current standards need to be changed.

As part of this effort, with the World Customs Organization, we launched Program Global Shield, an initiative to protect the supply chain by preventing the theft or illegal diversion of precursor chemicals that can be used to make Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

More than 80 countries now participate and the program already has led to the seizure of more than 33 metric tons of chemicals, primarily ammonium nitrate, which, in the wrong hands, could be used to build hundreds, even thousands, of IEDs.

And through my department’s Science and Technology Directorate, we have signed research and technology sharing agreements with the European Union, France, Germany, Sweden, and the UK to collaborate on joint technology research and development.

We also have engaged in a number of successful homeland security research projects with our European partners, including efforts to improve the detection of explosives and the identification of biological and chemical threats.

Early in his administration, President Obama took action to better align our policy apparatus to the realities of our interconnected world.

The Administration’s National Security Strategy made explicit the need to better coordinate and integrate the full scope of efforts to keep America secure, stating:

“We are now moving beyond traditional distinctions between homeland and national security. National security draws on the strength and resilience of our citizens, communities, and economy.”

At the heart of this is a firm commitment – to continue to build a more secure and resilient nation, while also maintaining the open flows of commerce, travel, and ideas.

We are moving this still new field forward, and will continue to work closely with allies and partners who face shared threats, as well as the desire for open societies, freedom of movement, and the protection of individual rights and liberties.

We will never be able to seal our nations under a glass dome to prevent future terrorist attacks or disasters.

But we can continue to do everything possible to minimize the possibility that such an attack will succeed, and maximize our ability to respond effectively should an attack be attempted.

This is a shared responsibility in which we all have an important role to play. We all benefit from our joint efforts! Thank you for your partnership, today and in the future.

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