Jackson Institute, Yale University
New Haven, CT
Remarks as Prepared
Thank you Jim [Levinsohn] and thank you very much Sean. Sean still has the battle scars from some of our adventures during his time at DHS … so thank you again for your great service. I’m happy to be at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs because it is a fitting venue for our discussion. In one sense, you are breaking down old, and often artificial, barriers among academic disciplines, nations, and people. And from the broad range of experiences and remarkable accomplishments of the Senior Fellows here, to the innovative curriculum, it is clear that the Jackson Institute is leading the way for tomorrow’s international leaders.
I understand that one of those Fellows, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, will be moderating a debate here soon. And the question being debated is whether or not we are safer than we were on 9/11. I’ll share my opinion on that… but with the caveat that neither debate team can use it as a reason to slack off on their preparation.
Today, I think there’s little question that America is stronger and more secure than ten years ago and one of my main goals tonight is to discuss how the Department of Homeland Security’s international partnerships have been essential to that security. And since this is a Town Hall meeting, I look forward to a good discussion with you as well.
Transnational Threats: Aviation and Supply Chain Security
I want to begin with an example that really captures the international nature of today’s evolving threats, and also the importance of strong international engagement and cooperation to address these threats.
On Christmas Day 2009, an attempted terrorist attack on a Detroit-bound flight highlighted weak links in our international aviation system. Although that incident involved a U.S. plane flying into a U.S. city, it was an international terror plot in just about every way … endangering individuals from at least 17 different countries. The alleged attacker, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was a Nigerian citizen educated in the United Kingdom. He received training in terrorist tactics in Yemen, purchased his ticket in Ghana, and flew from Nigeria to Amsterdam before departing for Detroit. He was in Canadian airspace, in fact, when he attempted to blow up the aircraft using the explosive PETN. In other words, the Christmas Day plot exploited our global aviation network. And it underscored the reality that, despite decades of advances in screening, and significant reforms following 9/11, the system still had vulnerabilities.
Because every airport offers a potential entry point into the global system, every nation faces the threat from gaps in aviation security throughout the world. So international cooperation was essential as we took action at DHS to address those gaps.
Aviation and Supply Chain Security
For nine months, my Department worked with the International Civil Aviation Organization, or ICAO, and many other international partners, on a global initiative to strengthen the international aviation system against evolving terrorist threats. And this effort culminated last year with the adoption by 190 countries of a historic Declaration on Aviation Security at the ICAO Triennial Assembly, which laid a new foundation for a truly global aviation security system.
For more than a year now, DHS also has been leading a Global Supply Chain Security Initiative to protect the vast amount of goods and commerce that move across the world every day - and that drive our global economy. Think for a minute about the complex supply chain that consumers and businesses in the US and around the world rely on every day. A student or faculty member here in New Haven can go online and buy a gift that is assembled in Mexico, from parts that were manufactured in China that was then inspected as it crossed our Southwest border, before then travelling by air, rail, or truck to its final destination here in New Haven.
I think you can see how interconnected this is, but also the potential vulnerability to those who may seek to disrupt global commerce. In fact, our Global Supply Chain Security work was already underway when we saw the attempted terrorist attacks on cargo operations out of Yemen in October 2010. Following that incident, I immediately deployed Transportation Security Administrator chief John Pistole, and a team of TSA inspectors, to Yemen to assess their cargo security and see where and how we might help. Subsequently, TSA provided training to mitigate threats to the cargo security network emanating from Yemen.
I’m happy to say we’re seeing some positive results. For example, more than 60 countries now participate in Program Global Shield... sharing information about the export of 14 precursor chemicals that can be used in Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs. Global Shield, a World Customs Organization initiative that DHS has spearheaded, has already 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 let me mention another very important part of these international security efforts that show where we are going. Under U.S. law, DHS requires airlines flying to the United States from foreign countries to provide basic information, such as name, date of birth, citizenship or nationality, and passport number...and also information we call Passenger Name Record, or PNR. This includes information that travelers provide to airlines when booking their flights, such as itinerary, address, and check-in information, up to 72 hours prior to departure.
Since DHS was created in 2003, we have improved our ability to use this and other information to target and identify both known and unknown individuals that are either a threat to aviation, or the United States, and to prevent them from either flying to, or entering the United States. In fact, during 2008 and 2009, PNR information helped the United States identify individuals with potential ties to terrorism in more than 3,000 cases and in fiscal year 2010, approximately one quarter of those individuals denied entry to the United States for having ties to terrorism were initially identified through analysis of PNR.
PNR analysis has also played a critical role in the investigations of Najibullah Zazi, who pled guilty to plotting to bomb New York subways; David 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, which requires approval by the Council of the European Union and ratification by the European Parliament, will underscore the United States and the European Union‘s continuing commitment to combat terrorism and serious transnational crime, while respecting privacy.
The Broader DHS International Footprint
What these examples point to is the inextricable link between international security and the security of our homeland.
Our responsibilities in this arena 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
Today, DHS simply could not succeed at its mission without strong international partnerships and engagement. One way of looking at it is that we are pushing our operational borders outward so that more and more, our literal borders become our last line of defense and not our first. Early in his administration, President Obama took actions to better align our policy apparatus to the realities of this interconnected world, for example, bringing together the staffs of the national security and homeland security councils.
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.
So let me give you an overview of how DHS operates in the international realm, beginning here in our own neighborhood. As a former border-state Governor, and someone who knows the Southwest border very well, I’m particularly proud of the unprecedented relations we have forged with Mexico... To help fight the cartels, to interdict narcotics going north, and guns and bulk cash going south, and to stand up a modern and effective Mexican customs capacity at the border.
Our cooperation with Mexico spans from information sharing to training, from joint investigations to collaboration on equipment needs. For example, we have posted CBP officers at Mexico City airport to help airlines and Mexican officials identify illicit travelers. And we are collaborating with Mexico on the Global Entry Trusted Traveler program, and cooperating on bi-national projects to replace outdated border crossing facilities. This means that, even as we target criminals and others who would do us harm, we are working to streamline and expedite the legitimate trade and travel upon which our economies depend.
We have worked closely with Canada as well to better integrate our defenses, share law critical enforcement and national security information, and going beyond this, to detail a shared long-term vision for our common security...through the Shiprider program, law enforcement from both countries operate together to combat smuggling, organized drug crime, gun trade and other criminal activity in shared waterways.
Our international partnerships, however, extend well beyond our own borders. In fact, today over 1,500 DHS personnel carry out our important international work, from just about every corner of the world. We work closely with our Federal partners from the Departments of State, Justice, Defense, and others; with the FBI; and with many foreign governments and international bodies.
Indeed, with a presence in 75 countries around the world, DHS has the third-largest international footprint of any civilian U.S. government agency. This includes personnel from multiple DHS components working with our international partners to do everything from improving aviation and port security, to facilitating the visa process for refugees. So for example:
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deploys personnel abroad to work with our foreign counterparts to disrupt and dismantle transnational criminal organizations engaged in money laundering, weapons proliferation, child exploitation, intellectual property rights violations, and human trafficking. U.S. Customs and Border Protection stations officers abroad that work in coordination with host foreign governments to identify known or suspected terrorists and other high risk travelers. The Transportation Security Administration inspects airports overseas with flights to the United States to ensure they’re in compliance with international security standards. In a similar vein, the U.S. Coast Guard assesses seaports and shipping companies that trade with the United States, and also interdicts drugs and human smuggling near our shores.
All of these Component agencies also partner with, and provide training to, foreign counterparts, and often learning from their expertise as well.
Since 2009 DHS has signed dozens of international agreements to share information about terrorism, organized crime, smuggling, human trafficking, and science and technology. I, myself, have travelled to more than 20 countries, personally working and negotiating with my counterparts - bilaterally and multilaterally.
Why is this partnership approach important? For a couple reasons: First, these agreements form the legal foundation for much of the cooperation I just described. Second, they also open new avenues for action and for potential breakthroughs.
My visit to Afghanistan over New Year’s Eve earlier this year, for example, enabled DHS to expand our efforts there. DHS currently has 25 officers stationed there, as part of the “civilian surge” lead by the Department of State, mentoring border guards, providing training at the Customs Academy we helped establish, and using cash-counting machines at Kabul airport to help detect money laundering. Another such “breakthrough” opportunity came from President Obama’s 2010 trip to India, which gave rise to a historic U.S.-India Homeland Security Dialogue on issues including countering threats from terrorism, and implementing a cybersecurity emergency response team.
Future Goals and Recruitment
So where do we go from here? How do we build on this progress? On campuses throughout this year, I have been talking about the exciting opportunities that young leaders and professionals have to shape what is still a young field. I think the Jackson Institute’s commitment to the internationalization of education is one very promising piece of this. The next secretary or diplomat who helps us secure cyberspace or keep WMDs from proliferating may be in this room. Maybe she is thinking of innovative new ways to strengthen the resilience of international commerce, or to counter violent extremism.
We’re seeing this new kind of homeland security thinking, training, and education at colleges and universities across the country. This, in turn, is helping homeland security take its place among longer-standing fields – like international affairs and criminal justice – as an area where major global challenges are being studied and analyzed.
For the students and young professionals here this evening, you are the next generation of homeland security thinkers, professionals, and managers. In fact we need to drawn on our nation’s great talents. We need integrated thinking and planning across a range of disciplines – including science, law, management, law enforcement, international relations, and cyber. We need ambitious thinkers and doers who are energized by the thought of a spell in public service working to solve some large and tricky problems. And coincidentally, I see that it is Federal Career Month here at Yale, so I hope some of you might consider DHS. Especially because October is also National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.
The Department offers exciting careers in areas spanning law enforcement, intelligence, and counterterrorism, like intelligence analysts, policy experts, and international affairs specialists who help negotiate our global agreements... Secret Service agents and investigators who protect our leaders, help thwart terror plots, fighting transnational crime, and dismantle human trafficking rings. All of these positions come with the opportunity not only to do great work in this exciting field, but also to serve our nation. In fact, DHS employs nearly 50,000 veterans who are now serving their nation in new ways.
I’ll close by saying that every day, the men and women of DHS are working with partners across our country – and increasingly with partners around the world – to build a strong foundation for a secure and resilient homeland. We will never be able to seal our country 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. This is a shared responsibility in which we all have an important role to play. Thank You.