The physical border should be “our last line of defense, not our first,” and new collaborations with foreign governments are providing “greater tools, greater awareness” in the fight against trans-global crime networks and other security threats, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said at The Wilson Center on Tuesday.
Appearing with former National Security Adviser James Jones and former CIA Acting Director John McLaughlin, Napolitano added, “Our work in the international sector is increasingly substantial and innovative. It recognizes that, in today’s world, domestic security and international security are inextricably intertwined…homeland security means working within our borders and outside our borders.”
Our work in the international sector is increasingly substantial and innovative. It recognizes that, in today’s world, domestic security and international security are inextricably intertwined…homeland security means working within our borders and outside our borders. — Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano
To fight trans-global crime and better protect the homeland, DHS is increasing security cooperation efforts around the world, Napolitano said, noting that since 2009 118 related agreements have been signed with international partners. She added that protecting the homeland also means extending the DHS security function away from the physical border line, in order to more efficiently segregate legitimate and illicit flows. An example of this is the Customs and Trade Partnership Against Terrorism, a program that monitors commercial shipments from their point of origin until they reach the border—preemptively clearing legitimate cargo, Napolitano said.
Asked by moderator Jeanne Meserve, a senior fellow at the George Washington University Homeland Security Institute, to discuss the top national security threats facing the United States, panelists stressed international terrorism, the proliferation of nuclear material and technology, and cyber-warfare. The discussion was part of the winter meeting of the Aspen Homeland Security Group, a bipartisan group of former government officials and policy experts analyzing and offering policy recommendations in homeland security and counterterrorism issues.