U. S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Oct.
***PREPARED AS DELIVERED***
REMARKS BY SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY TOM
AT THE ELCANO ROYAL INSTITUTE IN MADRID,
Thank you, Senor Serra for your kind introduction. Minister
Palacio, Ambassador Argyros, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:
I appreciate your kind
invitation and am honored to join you this morning. I
am equally honored to visit your beautiful city of Madrid…your
beautiful, historic country of Spain.
long stood at the apex of history…and certainly knows well
the two first “isms" of our time. It took a world war
to defeat fascism, a war against enemies who dehumanized life. It
took a long protracted Cold War to defeat communism, a war against
enemies who sought to overpower a way of life.
Now we are embarked on a war against international terrorism, the
third “ism.” History has not yet recorded
how this war will be characterized. What we do know
is that Spain and the United States -- as strong
nations and strong allies – are united in this war
Let there be no doubt that, while there have been differences with
some of our most valued NATO allies, the friendships we share
with Spain, with Europe, are strong and cherished.
We have a transatlantic
alliance so firmly based on shared beliefs and shared interests
that no moments of divergence or publicly trumped-up feuds
can derail it. And those who think otherwise serve only
to detract and to distract from our mutual goal – to
ensure a peaceful and cooperative security environment around
The American people know
that we will always find friends and strength in multinational
partners – in the European Union, in NATO, 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, in
Baghdad as recently as yesterday, in the incidents of destruction
and chaos that occur each and every day across the globe – that
terrorism is a global scourge, not a regional one. And
a global enemy requires a global response.
Moments after 9-11, America
and its allies knew full well -- the fight against global terrorism
would, like the Cold War, be a battle that would not be won easily. Perhaps
not even won in our lifetime. And yet, together, Spain and
America saw the obstacles and the long road ahead and we said simply
and rightly, “Let us begin.”
Less than two months ago, Americans reflected on the events of
9-11. In places of worship and places in our hearts,
we remembered. Vivid images of loss and destruction
seared into our consciousness were once again brought to
the surface. But so were other images -- images of
heroic courage and incredible sacrifice. Images of
people running up burning flights of stairs. People
risking their lives to aid those trapped. People rushing
the cockpit of United Airlines Flight 93.
These are the images that resonate deep within, these are the images that motivate
and inspire us when the road seems long and full of obstacles. These
are the images that remind us that ordinary people can do and will do extraordinary
Yes, we are recovering from the 9-11 attacks. But we will never forget. And
our national goal to do everything possible to avoid another September 11th
has and will affect how we engage the rest of the world.
For 227 years America's fortunes have been tied to wave after
wave of immigrants from around the world. Such openness to diversity
continues today. It is a reflection of who and what we are as a nation.
Several hundred thousand international students attend our colleges and universities
every year. They enrich our academic community and contribute to the
intellectual, cultural and scientific climate of our country. Some choose
to remain in America; most return home to better their own countries.
Thousands of international travelers arrive every single day at our airports. By
land, by air and by sea, we welcome nearly 600 million workers, tourists, students,
business travelers and families every year.
Not too long ago, I boarded a cargo ship in the harbor of New Orleans, Louisiana. The
ship was registered in Singapore. The crew was from India. The
cargo was American grain. The destination was Japan.
The U.S., by design and by desire, has been – and will always be – connected
to the rest of the world. The ultimate destination of that student or
business traveler, airplane or ship that I mentioned could be any country. The
benefit of ensuring that only legitimate travelers and legitimate commerce
cross our borders applies to every single nation – to all of us.
of the world today spans many sectors – military, economic,
educational and, yes, even homeland or domestic security. No
one country can be truly safe without the cooperation and like-minded
commitment from all others.
This type of "interdependence" is a good thing. It helps inspire one
another to higher standards. It compels us to be innovative and unified
in our approach to security. The terrorists who seek to harm freedom-loving
countries and the people who inhabit them want to see a "house divided." They
want to cause dissension and distract us from our common goal – which
is their defeat.
If we are to be successful against them, a worldwide commitment and worldwide
resolve is required. And worldwide, that is what we are seeing. Since
the events of September 11th, a counter-terrorism coalition of nearly
170 nations has begun working together in the critical areas of law enforcement,
information sharing, transportation security, cyber security and financial
Spain is an active, courageous and critically important
participant in this global coalition. Your efforts have made
a valuable contribution to fighting terrorists inside and outside
of Spain territory. Spain played an important role in both
Operation Enduring Freedom and the UN’s International Security
Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Within the last two years, Spain’s
law enforcement officials have arrested many suspected terrorists;
including some allegedly instrumental in the September 11th attacks. Spain
captured two primary suspected Al Qaeda financiers, generated domestic
antiterrorism reforms that have helped “spot and stop” terrorists
who attempt to find sanctuary on Spanish soil, and Spain has taken
a key leadership role in the rebuilding of Iraq.
On behalf of President
Bush and all of the American people…and certainly every
freedom-loving citizen of the world…I say thank you to
the Spanish government, King Juan Carlos and President Aznar
for these acts of great political courage, and for their commitment
to the cause of freedom worldwide.
On a personal note, President
Bush and all of us in his Cabinet greatly value the personal
and professional relationships we have with our investigative
and security counterparts here in Spain.
We are more than just
allies; we are friends. And we have been fortunate to
work with you, and in the spirit of good friendship, learn
from you as well.
Terrorism is part of Spain’s…of
Europe’s…collective experience: Germany against
Baader-Meinhoff and the RAF [Red Army Faction]; France against
fundamentalist threats from North Africa; the Britons against the
IRA; and certainly Spain against ETA.
We know that Spain
is uniquely qualified to talk about terrorism. Your country
has battled ETA terrorism for more than 40 years, and ETA has killed
more than 800 of your fellow countrymen.
Be it through murder,
intimidation, revolutionary taxation, political front organizations,
ETA is involved in all of the worst practices of terrorism. President
Aznar, who was himself a victim of ETA terrorism, is one of
the strongest leaders in the war on terror.
So I bring my case to Spain…not
just to the Spanish people – not just to the Spanish government
-- but to the terrorists that plague this nation – to those
who see no distress in parents standing in grief over the bodies
of their children, or children over the bodies of their parents. America
stands by its friends, and we will continue to stand by Spain and
work toward terrorism’s defeat. Terrorists here
in this country, in our country, and everywhere must know: No
matter what your form or faction – you are civilization’s
collective shame. On this issue, the world has come together – and
the world is coming after you.
Some call terrorism a
nuisance; some call it a fact of life. Let them call
it what they will. But let us always speak the truth: Terrorists
are not “freedom fighters,” nor “political
Freedom fighters do not
crash planes into buildings, detonate bombs in dance clubs
and tourist buses, or release bioagents in subways. Freedom
fighters do not engage noncombatants in battle. They
murder. Their motivation and methods are merely to kill
what they do not understand, or what they resent and hate --
freedom-loving people around the world.
run the gamut – from well-funded groups to madmen who
use catastrophic acts of violence as a political instrument. They
seek the disintegration of democratic societies through attempts
to undermine free governments. They seek false glory
in casualties and chaos. As many have recognized, we
have passed over into a far more menacing frontier of warfare…potentially
with far more horrifying consequences. International
terrorism is the “new totalitarian threat.” For
the first time in history of humankind, a small group of people
with weapons of mass destruction can wreak untold havoc in
our cities and against our nations. These perpetrators
seek chemical, biological and nuclear weapons and before them
lay a map of the entire world. They will choose their
targets as they choose among opportunities – whether
at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge or the
towers of Gaudi’s Cathedral.
Today the international community faces two realities in the fight
for broad security: One, the reality that terrorists
find safe haven in hostile nations...or safe havens within
the borders of failing governments and unstable regions. And
two, the reality that terrorists have ready availability
to weapons of mass destruction provided by hostile regimes...as
well as varying weapons of scope and scale built and tested
in camps and caves across the deserts and mountain terrain
in which they hide.
Surely, it is no coincidence
that the threat to the stability and peace of the world has
coincided with the globalization of technology, transportation,
commerce and communication. The same benefits enjoyed
by freedom-loving people across the world are available to
terrorists as well. That means that terrorists themselves
have greater mobility, more targets and more places to hide
than ever before.
That's why, on September 11th, 2001, they were able to turn passenger
airplanes into missiles, with an "army" of fewer than two
dozen men, and a budget of roughly a half a million dollars.
So to fight back, we
too must exploit our assets. We must investigate and prosecute
and confiscate. We must utilize diplomacy, intelligence,
law enforcement and asset seizure – a multi-lateral approach
to a multinational problem. We must enlist stronger collaboration
and cooperation, and improved information-sharing, both within
nations and between them. We must use every available tool
to repel these shadow soldiers.
St. Thomas Aquinas said three things are necessary for the salvation
of man: to know what he ought to believe, to know what
he ought to desire and to know what he ought to do. We
knew minutes after the second plane hit the World
Trade Center, what we would need to do – that is make
the fullest protection of our people the highest charge of
This vision…and the actions that drive it…offer no
guarantees. The sheer depth and breadth of what occurs across
America means that one slip, one gap, one vengeful person, can
threaten the lives of citizens, at any time, in any number of ways.
We can say that the American people are more secure and better prepared than
ever before. Just as the United States and its allies adjusted
priorities and tactics to defeat the enemies of old, we have developed strategies
to meet the current and constant threat of terrorism.
One needs only look back to the way things were before September 11 in our
country. Before that day, the idea of organizing major federal agencies
to strengthen the U.S. government's ability to protect the homeland was viewed
as intellectually very provocative but unlikely.
And yet, on March 1 of
this year, 22 agencies and departments and 180,000 employees
were merged into the U.S. Department of Homeland Security – the
largest government reorganization in fifty years.
Before September 11, ticket agents asked who packed a traveler’s bags,
but little else was done in the airport or on the aircraft to provide security. Today,
from curbside to cockpit, more people and technology work to make airline travel
Before September 11, we never looked in a container of cargo until
it got to our shores, and nearly 20,000 containers of cargo
arrive in our ports every single day. And yet,
as I speak, there is a U.S. inspector in Rotterdam,
in Singapore, in Hong Kong, and soon in Spain, working alongside
our allies to ensure the safety of cargo and world commerce.
Before September 11, our national
stockpile of medications to protect Americans against a bioterrorist
attack was drastically undersupplied. Today, we have
stockpiled a billion doses of antibiotics and vaccines, including
enough smallpox vaccine for every man, woman, and child in America.
Before September 11, agencies in the federal government saw very little need
to share information and intelligence between themselves, let alone with state
and local officials. And yet, today secure communications technologies
and expanded security clearances for representatives of state and local governments,
along with the shared language of the Homeland Security Advisory system; create
a powerful and constant two-way flow of threat information. This means
more effective actions can be taken by homeland security professionals at all
And, since standing up the Department
of Homeland Security, we have also worked closely with Spain
and other countries to disrupt terrorists at their source – in
cities and cells all across the world. Globally, more
than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been detained in 90 countries.
From these collective
actions, we have learned the value of building strong global
partnerships – partnerships that build barriers to terrorists,
and build bridges to one another. Because our common
interests go beyond our common enemies and our common values.
We are also brought together by a highly integrated global
I believe it is in the global community's best interest – in terms of
economic security and mutual security -- to develop a unified approach to the
movement of goods and people across our regional and national borders. To
do so requires the sharing of timely and appropriate information.
As we try to build a
consensus over issues of protocols and standards, the United
States is particularly sensitive to the historical, constitutional
and cultural differences among nations. We also are mindful
of concerns in the European community over the issues of standards
and civil liberties with respect to biometrics, machine-readable
passports, border security, student visas and other security
If we base our discussion
on the shared belief that it is in our mutual interest to know
who is coming through our doors and for what purpose, if we
accept that as the basis of our discussions, we will find common
Reliable, accurate information does not harm civil liberties; it
helps protect them. As President Bush has said: "We
are in a fight for our principles -- and our first responsibility
is to live by them." And so we will not erode the very
freedoms we are charged to protect.
Homeland security is a very human endeavor that is shaped by millions
of human decisions and actions…all across the globe. America
knows we cannot seek a double standard. And, America
knows we get what we give.
And so we must and will
always be careful to respect people’s privacy, civil
liberties and reputations. To suggest that there is a
trade-off between security and individual freedoms – that
we must discard one protection for the other – is a false
choice. We will not, as Ben Franklin once warned, trade
our essential liberties to purchase temporary safety. You
do not defend liberty to forsake it.
Since September 11, our
world has changed. America has changed. But
much of what is important remains the same. America is
still a welcoming nation that opens her borders to citizens
from all over the world.
Our promise still rests
on a respect for the vast diversity of people and cultures
that enrich our lives. Freedom is still the hope of many
and terrorism the choice of an embittered few.
For centuries, tyrants and imperialists mistook power as a means to pillage
and plunder. People and potentials were squandered at the expense of
royal gold and mistaken glory. And, as a result, the history of human
folly -- great massacres and human misfortunes -- is written in the textbooks
of our time.
But we have learned the
lesson of time and events. We have learned that great
powers can work together to do great things. Our shared
respect for peace, prosperity and the rule of law brings an
historic opportunity -- to enjoy peace with the world's major
players for the first time in 100 years.
Two years ago, and two years since, we have seen humanity at its worst...and
at its best. But now we have hope: Hope that great nations can
meet great challenges. In my country and yours, across Europe
and throughout the world, we are blessed by the covenant of shared values and
shared vigilance. We are both determined and self-determining. So,
we will not rest, we will not waiver, we will not relent in the fight against
Rightly, in the end,
our mutual commitment to each other and our steadfast conviction
in the justice of our cause will triumph over the weapons of
fear and terror wielded by any enemy.
Saint Isidore of Seville
once wrote: “Spain is the most beautiful of all the
lands extending from the West to India; for through her, East and
West receive light.” It is this light – Spain’s
belief in democracy, freedom, human rights – and the light
of friendship between our two nations -- that will help secure
liberty for many generations to come.
So much so that years
from now, historians will one day tell the story of strong
allies and good friends, who in fighting for the freedoms and
security of the world, surrendered neither. Together,
they will say, their salvation was their solidarity -- and
their solidarity became a force for freedom throughout the
world. America is proud to join Spain as
full partners, and fond friends, in this cause.