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US, Britain Announce Joint Homeland Security Measures - 2003-04-01

The United States and Britain, jointly conducting the war in Iraq, are also working together more closely on trying to prevent simultaneous terrorist attacks at home. The two countries announced new cooperative efforts in combating terrorism at a news conference in Washington.

Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge says there is no specific intelligence indicating an increased threat of simultaneous terrorist attacks since the war in Iraq began. But he says the United States and Britain need to be prepared for that possibility.

"I think that it makes eminent good sense for two allies that are working together to develop best practices," Mr. Ridge said. "Two allies and friends working together on the science and technology of detection and protection. Two friends and allies to engage in some responsible thinking with the possibility that we might have to endure simultaneous attacks and how we can be mutually supportive of each other in that process."

Mr. Ridge says the intelligence communities in both countries know the United States and the United Kingdom are potentially subject to attack. Secretary Ridge spoke to reporters after meeting with visiting British Home Secretary David Blunkett.

Secretary Blunkett says his agency and the U.S. Homeland Security Department are creating a joint working group to pool resources and share their best practices at countering terrorists.

He says the group will develop joint facilities to deal with the potential dangers posed by chemical, biological, and nuclear imports. He says it will also try to enhance border protection, using improved surveillance techniques and identification measures such as biometrics.

The British Home Secretary was asked about new security laws going into effect in Britain that affect the status and rights of immigrants, including one that enables the government to revoke a person's citizenship. Secretary Blunkett says people who acquire British citizenship by deception should not be allowed to retain it.

"The laws are designed to ensure that where people have had dual citizenship or where they have the opportunity of an alternative citizenship, and they have abused the taking of nationality within the United Kingdom, we believe we have the right to withdraw that and therefore to be able to expel that individual from the country," he said.

Tom Ridge was asked if the United States is thinking of adopting similar legislation to protect against immigrants abusing their citizenship. Secretary Ridge says given the changes caused by the terrorist attacks in September, 2001, the United States may someday consider such action, but it is not under consideration now.