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US Homeland Security Chief Pushes for More Overseas Cooperation

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says terrorism knows no boundaries. During an address to foreign reporters ahead of next month's G-8 Summit in Russia, he said relationships with countries overseas are a critical element to protecting the security of the world against terror attacks.

As chief of U.S. Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff explained the reason for a planned trip next week to Europe to reporters this way:

"Now, a lot of people will say, 'You're Secretary of Homeland Security, you should be focused on the homeland, why are you going overseas?' But the fact of the matter is that some people say charity begins at home. Well, security begins overseas. We are more secure as Americans when we are working to elevate the general level of security around the world," he noted.

Chertoff will first travel to London, then Berlin, and then on to Russia, the site of this year's G-8 summit in mid-July. The secretary says, while in Europe, he will hold talks focused on mutual security.

To that end, Chertoff gave a list of goals.

"…enhancing security on other forms of transportation, like subways and railroads, working to mitigate radicalization and recruitment, promoting cyber-security, combating financial electronic crimes and crimes on the Internet. More effectively frustrating terrorist financing operations. And many of the activities we pursue at DHS [Department of Homeland Security] do involve acting with foreign partners," he added.

But Chertoff added that, along with stepping up efforts to boost security, world governments -- including the United States -- are working to do more to welcome visitors, who wish to visit and study in peace.

"We want to encourage them to come to the country," he said. "We don't want our security measures to impede legitimate travel and legitimate tourism. So, we're working to expedite the visa process, retool and make our airports more welcoming, and develop smarter screening that raises security, but also increases efficiency."

Most especially, Chertoff spoke of the urgent need for preparedness.

"We face the possibility of cross-border threats, whether they be hurricanes that touch on another of different countries, or Avian flu, which could be a worldwide pandemic," he noted. "We need to coordinate and integrate our cross-border and response tools, so that we all are better prepared for whatever might come, even as we hope we never face the threat of the magnitude of something like an Avian flu pandemic."

Finally, Secretary Chertoff said, it is crucial that the world take seriously the idea that, just as security and protection against terror attacks are international issues, so, too, is preparedness.