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5/23/2005
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Battle Against Terrorists Found In U.S., European IT Collaboration, Chertoff Says

IT will be at the top of his agenda as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff travels this week to Europe.

IT will be at the top of his agenda as Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff travels this week to Europe.In a speech today before the think tanks German Marshall Fund and European Policy Centre in Brussels, Chertoff spoke of a world banded together by security envelopes: secure environments through which people and cargo can move rapidly without sacrificing security or privacy. "A world where, with the proper security vetting, the proper technology, the proper travel documents, and the proper tracking of cargo, it would be possible to move relatively freely from point to point all across the globe," he said.

Last week, as he prepared to leave for Europe, Chertoff addressed the importance of IT to the security envelopes: "Technology is obviously going to be critical." The United States and Europe must maximize their resources and work together to create these security envelopes. "We're got to be compatible," Chertoff told the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last week. "It doesn't make a lot of sense, for example, to have radio-frequency chips that use different kinds of modalities in the United States and Europe and in Asia because we're simply going to make it hard for us to interconnect, so that to the extent that we can start to build common platforms and common technological approaches, again, we will move ourselves closer to this concept of a security envelope. And we will also save ourselves some money and some effort and some time."

Chertoff said governments should eye the private sector as a role model in building IT systems to help protect the nation from terrorist attacks. In response to a question following his address last week, Chertoff said America's leading courier services use IT in a manner that our nation can adapt to monitor cargo contained in containers shipped by sea.

"You can go to FedEx or UPS or other kinds of freight-forwarding and shipping companies, and they have a phenomenal ability to track information and-they can tell you where your package is. … Well, can we use those kinds of systems when we're dealing with shipping material through containers into ports to ... verify who in fact the manufacturer is and what the product is?"

When the container arrives at the final port of embarkation, he said, the system would let American authorities know what needs to be inspected physically. "That's an example of getting the kind of information that is currently, by the way, completely available to shippers in the private sector and building on that kind of a technique so that when we confront the millions of containers that move into the United States every day, we can be confident that we are inspecting the ones that need to be inspected.

"… At the end of the day, that's going to be a competitive advantage to shippers. They're going to want to have a program that gives us the kind of information we need to keep cargo secure so it can move rapidly through the system."

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