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10 February 2003

Text: Ashcroft Says Information Sharing Vital to Battling Terrorism

(He praised the work of a 90-nation coalition fighting terrorism)
(2070)

Attorney General John Ashcroft says a coalition of 90 nations have
come together in the fight against global terrorism to support
freedom, the rule of law and shared values.

"We have come together because our nations share a commitment to the
rule of law, supporting freedom of speech, religious tolerance,
political democracy and equality between men and women," Ashcroft said
February 10 in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in
Washington. "We have come together because the targets of terrorism
are not buildings, people, or even nations. The targets of terrorism
are the shared values of free peoples."

Ashcroft said that the worldwide coalition has achieved unparalleled
police-to-police cooperation among different national law enforcement
agencies.

And chief among cooperation and sharing has been the sharing of vital
information, he said. "I have said often that in this global war on
terror, the best friend of prevention is information, and the best
friends of information are cooperation, coordination and
collaboration. Nations that stand on the side of the rule of law have
embraced these principles, understanding also that we are bound to
encounter occasional difficulties and temporary glitches as we embark
on a new quest for international security," he said.

Following is the text of Ashcroft's remarks, as prepared:

(begin text)

Prepared Remarks of Attorney General John Ashcroft
Council on Foreign Relations
February 10, 2003

(Note: The Attorney General Often Deviates From Prepared Remarks)

Thank you.  It is truly a pleasure to be here today.

In the early summer of 1941, as London endured the worst bombing of
the Blitz, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt offered this message of
solidarity and defiance to the people of Great Britain: "We, too, born
to freedom, and believing in freedom, are willing to fight to maintain
freedom. We, and all others who believe as deeply as we do, would
rather die on our feet than live on our knees."

Over 60 years later, it is difficult to think of a phrase that better
describes the path America has taken against the tyranny of terrorism
-- to risk dying on our feet rather than living on our knees. When
enemies of liberty struck this nation 17 months ago, we had two
choices: either succumb to fanatics or fight in defense of freedom.

America has made the choice to fight terrorism, not just for ourselves
but for all freedom-loving people. And all across the world,
freedom-loving people have joined the side of liberty, justice, and
respect for the rule of law.

The terrorists sought to divide nations -- and indeed they have,
though not in the way they intended. Where once we saw a world divided
East versus West, today we see a new model of division, not based on
ethnicity or geography. The gulf between nations now separates those
devoted to the rule of law from those devoted to the tyranny of
terrorism. It is the divide of civilization versus chaos.

The acts of terror the world has witnessed have welded a bond, not
driven a wedge, among freedom-loving nations. Those who were murdered
on September 11 were not only Americans, but citizens from a multitude
of nations. In response, a multitude of nations has risen up in
defense of freedom and commitment to the rule of law. Our fight, as
President Bush noted, is not just America's fight, but the world's
fight. In the words of the President, quote, "This is the fight of all
who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom."

I would add that "progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom" only
flourish in rule-of-law, rather than rule-of-terror, environments.

In order to fight and to defeat terrorism, the Department of Justice
has added a new paradigm to that of prosecution -- a paradigm of
prevention. We are working to bridge the gaps in our domestic law
enforcement and security activities with greater cooperation and
information sharing. We have broken down some of the artificial
barriers separating needlessly our law enforcement and intelligence
communities. Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies have
united in unprecedented cooperation, committed to a common goal.

We have thought anew and acted anew in pursuit of this goal, and
freedom-loving nations have responded in kind. Since September 11, a
coalition of 90 countries has come together in a fight against
terrorism that is changing the world. We have come together because
our nations share a commitment to the rule of law, supporting freedom
of speech, religious tolerance, political democracy and equality
between men and women. We have come together because the targets of
terrorism are not buildings, people, or even nations. The targets of
terrorism are the shared values of free peoples.

It is these shared values -- and the institutions that protect and
nurture them -- that are under attack by terrorists today. And as long
as nations share a commitment to freedom, equality and justice, we
will be -- we must be -- partners in the struggle to defeat those who
fear freedom, hate equality, and mock justice.

Over the past year-and-a-half, I have had the opportunity to meet with
dozens of foreign leaders to discuss ways to enhance our joint law
enforcement capabilities, and have seen firsthand the strong
partnerships we have forged with freedom-loving nations throughout the
world. Today alone I will meet with officials from two of the world's
great powers, China and Great Britain.

Some critics, however, misinterpret or mischaracterize our
relationships with our allies, believing them to be strained, damaged,
or even non-existent.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, another native Missourian, the reports of
the demise of international cooperation in the war on terror have been
exaggerated greatly. Today, nearly 17 months after the attacks of
September 11, our relationships with our foreign allies are stronger,
not weaker. The bonds of sympathy and support hold firm. Indeed, what
began as expressions of compassion have been transformed into
commitments to action.

Law enforcement agencies across Europe have joined with the United
States to form partnerships that have enhanced the security of all our
nations. Let me cite a few examples:

-- The United States has forged deep ties of cooperation with
Switzerland, including a special "working arrangement" with the
Federal Department of Police and the Swiss Anti-terrorism Task Force.

-- Since September 11, we have worked side by side with officials in
Germany to track down terrorists. Just last month, German authorities
arrested two suspects in Frankfurt as part of an ongoing investigation
coordinated by the FBI and German law enforcement.

-- Scores of formal U.S. requests for evidence needed in a wide
variety of terrorism investigations -- from bank records to witness
interviews -- have been granted promptly by rule-of-law respecting
countries across Europe.

-- We have reached landmark information sharing agreements with
EUROPOL (European Police).

-- We have established points of contact among American law
enforcement agencies and EUROPOL and EUROJUST (European Council unit).

-- The United States has welcomed EUROPOL officers who have been
assigned to Washington, and we in turn have assigned U.S. prosecutors
to serve as liaisons with EUROJUST.

-- We have collaborated on terrorism threat assessments and identified
several European-based terrorists and terrorist organizations.

-- We have cooperated closely to freeze the assets of suspected
terrorists and financiers in an effort to cut off terrorists' ability
to fund terrorism.

-- We are also in the process of negotiating an unprecedented judicial
cooperation agreement between the United States and the European
Union.

Our partners in the war on terrorism extend far beyond Europe. We are
working hand in hand with law enforcement officials from Pakistan to
Colombia, and from Canada to China.

-- Under the leadership of the former Solicitor General of Canada,
Lawrence MacAulay, and current Solicitor General Wayne Easter,
Canadian law enforcement has been an indispensable and strong partner
with the United States. Long before the attacks of September 11,
Canada provided consistent and invaluable assistance to law
enforcement officials in the United States. And since the attacks, our
nations have collaborated more closely than ever to secure our borders
and protect our citizens from the threat of terrorism.

-- In December 2001, the United States and the People's Republic of
China established a Counter-Terrorism Working Group. As a direct
result of the Working Group's efforts, the FBI now has its first
office ever in China. And the Department of Justice now has an
Assistant United States Attorney assigned to the U.S. Embassy in
Beijing as a Resident Legal Advisor.

-- We have cooperated closely with law enforcement officials in
Colombia and other South American nations to bring charges against key
members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the
United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), two guerrilla groups
designated by the State Department as foreign terrorist organizations.
These indictments strike at the heart of the nexus between drug
trafficking and terrorism.

Our worldwide coalition has achieved unparalleled police-to-police
cooperation among different national law enforcement agencies. Here in
America, we have made great strides toward improving the integrity in
our governmental systems that secure freedoms, while remaining true to
the rule of law.

-- We are reforming immigration systems by using biometrics, including
fingerprinting, to ensure the integrity of the free movement of people
in our free countries;

-- We are updating and adapting continuously our counterterrorism and
intelligence systems, as well as participating in law enforcement
exchanges, to allow for information to be exchanged in real time;

-- And we are improving and securing trade systems to ensure the
integrity of the free flow of goods through cargo inspections and
container security.

The brief history of the war on terror to this point has taught us we
will either stand together to defend freedom, or we will fall together
to freedom's enemies. I have said often that in this global war on
terror, the best friend of prevention is information, and the best
friends of information are cooperation, coordination and
collaboration. Nations that stand on the side of the rule of law have
embraced these principles, understanding also that we are bound to
encounter occasional difficulties and temporary glitches as we embark
on a new quest for international security.

In the past, our focus has been on traditional law enforcement --
prosecution. Prosecution is retrospective; it re-creates a past event.
It is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle with the benefit of the
picture on the box top. Our new, international goal of terrorism
prevention, on the other hand, involves anticipation and imagination
about emerging scenarios, the puzzle pieces of which have yet to come
into alignment. Together, our nations are finding new ways to
anticipate these dangerous scenarios and to identify, intercept and
disrupt them before they become tragic terrorist realities. We are
working together as never before to overcome obstacles we confront
along the way.

As President Bush said in the days following the September 11 attacks,
"The course of this conflict is not known, yet its outcome is
certain." That outcome can already be seen in the liberation of the
long-oppressed people of Afghanistan; on the faces of women unveiled
in newfound liberty and enrolled once again in schools; in the smiles
of children awakened to the potential of life and the promise of
freedom under the rule of law.

Forty-two years ago last month, President John F. Kennedy inspired a
world confronting the menace of communism -- and relished the
opportunity history placed before his generation to see communism
defeated. Kennedy said, quote, "In the long history of the world, only
a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in
its hour of maximum danger .... I do not believe that any of us would
exchange places with any other people or any other generation."

These words resonate deeply in 2003. As freedom-loving nations, we now
find ourselves in the midst of an historic struggle for the values of
democracy. We cannot escape the challenge history has placed before
us. It is more than a duty, and more than a privilege; it is the
calling of our time. We will rise to this challenge and will answer
this call. Let history record that we, together -- this people and
this generation -- defended freedom in its hour of great danger.

Thank you very much.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)