15 November 2004
Terrorism Requires Global Response, Homeland Security Chief Says
Ridge praises "unprecedented" international cooperation
in anti-terrorism fight
The "unprecedented cooperation at the international level" that
has characterized the war on terrorism must continue if "the shadow
soldiers" of terrorism are to be defeated, Secretary of Homeland
Security Tom Ridge said in a keynote address to the Asia-Pacific
Homeland Security Summit in Honolulu, Hawaii, November 15.
[W]e know all too well, from the terrorist attacks in America,
in Bali and Jakarta, in Beslan, in Istanbul, in Madrid ... that
terrorism is a global scourge, not a regional one," Ridge said. "And
a global enemy requires a global response."
The three-day conference, which runs through November 17, brings
together officials and experts from 40 countries -- mostly in Asia
and the Pacific Rim region -- to discuss multilateral security
strategies. This is the second time that the state of Hawaii has
hosted the conference.
Ridge emphasized the importance of integrated international efforts
in several areas. "Since the events of September 11, a counterterrorism
coalition of nearly 70 nations has been working together in the
critical areas of law enforcement, information sharing, transportation
security, cybersecurity, and financial asset seizure," he said.
One area where considerable progress has been made is maritime
security, the secretary noted. For the first time, nations have
worked together to establish and implement a global standard for
ship and port security, he said.
Programs such as the Container Security Initiative (CSI) have
played an important role in addressing vulnerabilities in the shipping
industry, according to Ridge. The CSI initiative authorized exchanges
of customs inspectors between the United States and participating
nations and has allowed the United States to place inspectors in
26 international ports.
"With the use of large-scale gamma ray and X-ray imaging systems,
customs officers can safely and efficiently screen for contraband,
including weapons of mass destruction," Ridge said. "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 economy depends."
Ridge called for continued and expanded cooperation in port and
border security through the development of common procedural standards
and increased use of advanced technology to seal and track shipping
Another area that has shown promise in securing borders is the
use of biometric data to accurately identify and screen travelers,
Ridge said. He cited the implementation of the "US-VISIT" (United
States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology) program,
an automated entry/exit system that is intended to facilitate
travel for legitimate travelers.
So far in 2004, US-VISIT has processed more than 12 million legitimate
passengers and matched more than 1,500 potential entrants against
criminal watch lists, Ridge said. The secretary acknowledged that
to apply the use of biometrics globally, international standards
must be adopted for capturing, analyzing, storing, reading and
protecting biometric data. Only then can "maximum interoperability
between systems" and "maximum privacy for individuals" be ensured,
Ridge assured his audience that the United States is "mindful
of concerns over the issues of standards and civil liberties with
respect to biometrics, machine-readable passports, border security,
student visas and other security changes."
"That is why we are working closely with our friends in the Asia-Pacific
Region, in the European Union and elsewhere, to seek common ground
on these important issues," he said.
Following is the text of Ridge's speech:
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
November 15, 2004
(PREPARED FOR DELIVERY)
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY TOM RIDGE
AT THE ASIA-PACIFIC HOMELAND SECURITY SUMMIT
HONOLULU -- Good morning. Thank you, Governor, for that warm introduction.
I appreciate your kind words. And I want to thank everyone here
today for the commitment you have shown in confronting the complex
challenges we face in the war on terror. For those of you who attended
this summit last year, you may remember a few ... technical difficulties
... with my speech. Failed satellite video, falling DHS seals ...
let's just say I thought I'd better get here in person this year.
And I was glad to make the trip -- not just to escape the wintry
DC weather, but also to be a part of this important dialogue about
the threat of terrorism and our responsibility as an international
community to combat it.
The American people know that we will always find friends and
strength in international partners -- in the Asia-Pacific Region,
in the United Nations -- in a true "culture of cooperation." And
that is important. Because we know all too well -- from the terrorist
attacks in America, in Bali and Jakarta, in Beslan, in Istanbul,
in Madrid, in the incidents of destruction and chaos that occur
each and every day -- that terrorism is a global scourge, not a
And a global enemy requires a global response. The battle we wage
against the terrorists is not one fought by America alone. It is
fought by every nation and every citizen that stands on the side
of hope and liberty. And the means to win this war rests in our
ability to engage the world community, work together multilaterally,
and foster healthy dialogue and strategic cooperation among our
When we talk about homeland security here in the United States,
we place an imperative on the value of partnerships. In our view,
terrorism is not just an enemy fought by the federal government
or soldiers on a battlefield. It is also fought by citizen volunteers,
first responders, local leaders, and parents who prepare their
families and remain ever vigilant.
This integration of our nation forms the foundation of our homeland
security strategy and is a guiding principle of our work with the
international community. Just as we strive to close gaps and vulnerabilities
at our own borders by pooling resources and engaging our entire
country and citizenry, we must do the same with our international
allies and friends.
We must integrate our anti-terrorism efforts by reaching out in
a spirit of global cooperation and partnership. We must build bridges
to each other and build barriers to terrorists. We must share resources,
strategies and technology. We must engage every nation that values
freedom if we are to defeat the shadow soldiers of terror. And
that is exactly what we have done. Already in pursuit of our shared
mission, we have seen unprecedented cooperation at the international
Since the events of September 11, a counter-terrorism coalition
of nearly 70 nations has been working together in the critical
areas of law enforcement, information sharing, transportation security,
cyber security and financial asset seizure.
Many nations in the Asia-Pacific region have made integral contributions
to the war on terrorism -- significantly building and improving
counterterrorism capabilities in the immediate aftermath of the
September 11 attacks. And through organizations such as APEC, we
have worked toward the implementation of international standards
and programs that protect our ports, cargo, borders and other vital
Especially in the area of maritime security, we have made marked
progress with programs such as the Container Security Initiative.
Since the launch of CSI, we now have U.S. Customs inspectors working
alongside our partners to target and screen cargo in 26 international
ports including Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia.
With the use of large-scale gamma ray and x-ray imaging systems,
Customs 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 economy depends.
The Asia-Pacific region has some of the largest container ports
in the world and one third of the world's shipping and half of
its oil pass through the straits of Southeast Asia. As such, the
success of this program is closely linked to the tremendous support
and partnership we have received from the region.
It's important to note that prior to 9-11, efforts to secure the
vast global shipping industry -- both in America and throughout
the world -- were isolated, scattered and uncoordinated. Like other
areas of vulnerability, we recognized the problem and worked with
our international partners to take action.
As a result, the International Ship and Port Facility Security
Code was developed. For the first time ever, we have one global
standard for ship and port security, and we are moving forward
rapidly to implement that standard. This effort will increase our
ability-- and that of our allies -- to prevent terrorists from
attacking our ports or using ships as weapons.
While we have accomplished a great deal, we cannot allow past
success to lull us into complacency. The terrorists are constantly
at work; they are adaptable and untiring. And so we must not grow
complacent. We must continue to rise to new levels of security
and protection for our nations and our citizens.
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. 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 -- this is similar to what we did with port
security -- is to forge a commitment to standards. Such cooperation
could include the development of common standards for cargo and
consistent procedures that would allow countries to build upon
existing protections to make shipping containers -- and the ports
they reach -- more secure than ever before.
However, process and procedures are not enough. We also need to
harness the power of technology and take advantage of innovative
tools already available. Technologies such as electronic seals
and container-tracking devices offer additional protections against
container tampering -- thus further securing our ports and ships
from possible attack. And 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.
One of the primary resources at our disposal as we move forward
to make our borders safer is biometrics. Biometrics is proving
to be a valuable and 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 bring travelers across our borders with
greater ease and convenience.
Since the beginning of the year, US-VISIT has processed more than
12 million legitimate passengers, and since the program began we
have matched more than 1500 potential entrants against criminal
watch lists. However, to apply the use of biometrics globally,
we must develop a set of international standards for capturing,
analyzing, storing, reading and protecting biometric data in order
to ensure maximum interoperability between systems, and maximum
privacy for individuals.
In that spirit, let me say clearly: The United States is particularly
sensitive to the historical, constitutional and cultural differences
among nations. We are mindful of concerns over the issues of standards
and civil liberties with respect to biometrics, machine-readable
passports, border security, student visas and other security changes.
That is why we are working closely with our friends in the Asia-Pacific
Region, in the European Union and elsewhere, to seek common ground
on these important issues. And we will continue to do so.
Together we have made significant strides in our international
security efforts, yet there is much still to be done. We face a
long road ahead not only to defeat terrorism but also to uproot
the ideology of hate that breeds and sustains our enemies.
All of you in this room understand what's at stake in this great
challenge of our time. To defeat terrorism can at times seem a
daunting task, but we must remain undeterred and undaunted. This
task has been appointed to us, and it is our responsibility to
see it through to completion.
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. The victory in
the Cold War came about as a result of a robust international effort
and an unquenchable desire for freedom on the part of those who
lived without it.
And that is the same path that will lead us to victory once again.
For freedom is more powerful than fear. And when wielded by nations
willing to work together for the safety and security of our people,
freedom will continue to guide us toward a better and brighter
future -- a future of prosperity and peace for generations to come.