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Speeches & Statements

Remarks by Al Martinez-Fonts to the Electronic Industries Alliance

For Immediate Release
* As Prepared *
May 6, 2003

Thank you for the kind introduction, Brian-it's a pleasure to be with you all today. I look forward to working with you and Shannon Galey, as well as the many other good people and organizations that make up EIA, on some of the critical issues that face government, the private sector and this Nation as a whole.

As Brian mentioned, I am the Special Assistant to Secretary Ridge for the Private Sector. Let me say first that the successes that DHS has had in our short span of operations are directly attributed to our outstanding leadership. Secretary Ridge is exceptional, a great leader. Gordon England, our Deputy Secretary (Former Secretary of the Navy, executive for many years with General Dynamics) is also wonderful. Both have very unique ways of leading, and it's a privilege to be working alongside of them during this unprecedented time in our Nation's history. In fact, I will share with you a thought by Secretary England that has stuck with me since I arrived in Washington a little over four months ago.

I think that is indicative of how we are dealing with the biggest government reorganization since the creation of the Department of Defense in 1947.

Being in charge of the Private Sector Office for the Department of Homeland Security is an extraordinary task. I spent my entire career in banking-30 years with JP Morgan Chase-so I am always interested to see people's reaction to the phrase, "We are from the Government and we're here to help". My job is to ensure that the concerns of the private sector are known to the secretary, to advise him on how our policies impact industry, and to come up with practices that will, at the end of the day, make America more secure. The President's National Strategy for Homeland Security clearly states this is a national effort, NOT just a federal effort. What we mean by National is federal, state and local governments, and private sector entities working together. The homeland cannot be protected from Washington, DC, and as Secretary England says, in the event of a crisis, no one will call a number that begins with the area code 202. I would like to challenge you to take steps to promote and implement better workplace security with such actions as developing a version of the Homeland Security Advisory System at your respective companies, and expanding on our "Ready.Gov" initiative. We can provide the information, intelligence, and resources, but ultimately you know the intricacies of your business better than anyone. It is your duty to take many things, such as vulnerability assessments, strategic communications, conducting drills and war games, and allocating monies, to better secure your personnel and your assets. This is part of the "Business Case" for Homeland Security in which businesses take ownership of security with assistance, not interference from government. At the end of the day, better security, with improved collaboration, will make for more efficient flow of people and products through land, air, and sea. Better security equals better business. No matter what level or color the alert is set at, terrorism is now a permanent condition. Different from any enemy this country has ever seen, we have an enemy with a hatred and a determination to not just kill innocent citizens but to shut down free enterprise, our way of life. As Secretary Ridge has said many times, it will take a concerted effort by all to achieve the goal of not only a safer homeland, but a safer hometown.

If terrorism is our nation's biggest threat, then our second biggest threat is complacency. Inaction is not an option. I am often asked by leaders in the business community, "what we do if/what we do if we go back to an Orange threat level/what happens if we ever go to Red?" These are very good questions, and to come up with the best answers, we must have a two-way dialogue and constant flow of information sharing. We have had great response to our outreach to private industry. During each of the three Homeland Security Advisory System threat level changes, we have, in coordination with our State and Local Affairs office, notified business and trade associations through emails and conference calls, and have provided suggested guidelines for private sector entities to better protect their plants and personnel. We have taken your feedback, both positive and negative, and worked to make our processes more efficient so that there are seamless transitions when the threat increases or (thankfully now) decreases.

Secretary Ridge mentioned last year when he spoke to you at this event (April 2002), a Newsweek cover story on companies of the future. These are companies that are "using technology to push ahead in business, transform their industries and change our lives." He noted that none of these highlighted companies were investing in technologies of the future that dealt with homeland security. I am pleased to report that today thousands of companies are thinking and doing something about homeland security. I have met with many companies dedicating valuable resources to create a better, more secure America. Now, some companies have merely changed the titles on their business cards. But majorities are seriously working at the business of homeland security.

We are creating close partnerships with the private sector to develop and implement technologies that will move goods and people more safely and quickly through our nation's airports, seaports and borders. Technology plays a vital role in homeland security. The private sector has the expertise to develop and produce many of these needed devices and systems, and we are harnessing that incredible energy and ingenuity with great success. There are, for example, pharmaceutical companies producing new vaccines against deadly biological and chemical agents in the event of a "dirty bomb" attack or an outbreak of disease. Information technology firms are investing in new communications technology for first responders to ensure that critical personnel "on the ground" are able to clearly communicate with one another in a crisis.

DHS has dedicated an entire directorate, Science and Technology, to exploit our supremacy in these fields. Dr. Chuck McQueary, the Undersecretary for this shop is leading an outstanding staff that will be soliciting proposals from industry to build up countermeasures as well as asking businesses to focus on those technologies which the Department would like to see developed. His focus is to "play offense" to work on the next generation of equipment to detect, defuse, and deter Weapons of Mass Destruction at our ports and borders.

What is unique to me is that you are both producer and consumer of these technologies.

Allow me to talk for a moment on two initiatives that I believe is of interest to you. The Container Security Initiative, which is overseen by the new Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (BCBP), is "Pushing our Borders Out" by using pioneering non-intrusive container screening technology that labels containers entering the country high-risk or low-risk at their port of origin. More than 20 European and Asian megaports where 65% of the world's cargo originates have agreed to this standard. I am sure you have seen the reports stating that Customs/DHS inspects only 2-3% of the nearly 6 million containers that enter our country each year through our seaports. This implies that we are ignoring 98% of the containers. This does a great disservice to the hardworking men and women who ensure the safety of the cargo moving through our ports. US Customs screens the data and information for all 6 million containers using the Automated Targeting System (ATS) to automatically flag the highest risk shipments. This rules-based computer system sorts through records stored in a massive database that contains detailed information on every shipment that has entered the United States over the past 10 years. ATS screens each ship's electronic manifest and analyzes the information against this database. Inspectors also use full-truck gamma ray and x-ray machines to scan the contents of containers. These units can scan the interior of a full-size 40-foot container in under a minute.

Another program I know you are familiar with and are helping to impliment is Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT). Since its inception in April of 2002, more than 2900 companies and 60 out of the Top 100 importers by volume are now participating. Businesses are required to conduct self-assessments of supply chain security using guidelines jointly developed by DHS and industry. They will also be required to check physical, procedural, and personnel security, and provide training to key personnel through the CTPAT Validation Process. The order in which these profiles are selected for validation is based on risk management principles, as well as other factors such as import volume, threat assessments, and location. We have had good reaction from the carriers, brokers, and freight forwarders that are a part of this ground breaking partnership. We have been working closely with a number of trade associations to develop industry-wide security standards for specific sectors that will better protect assets while keeping commerce flowing productively.

With the expansion of our inspection systems and borders and the use of the private sector's innovative technology, we are screening and securing container traffic before it ever reaches American soil. This is keeping cargo moving at an efficient pace and allowing businesses to make their destinations and deadlines on time. The possibilities are endless for those of you in the private sector that come up with new and innovative ways to prevent terrorism everyday, and this nation and the people charged with protecting her are grateful.

I spoke earlier about this being an unprecedented time in our history. I think its fitting that I use a quote from President Harry Truman as the last large government restructuring came during his administration. He once said, "America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand." We have been charged with an unprecedented task and, with your imagination, I am confident that we will do the "job at hand" and overcome the evils of terrorism.

Thank you.

I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.