Remarks at the International Homeland Security Conference

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U.S. Airport & Seaport Police Association, International Association of Airport and Seaport Police (IAASP)
Administrator Kip Hawley
Sunday, July 8, 2007
As Prepared for Delivery

Good morning. It really is a pleasure to be here today.

Before I begin my remarks, I’d like to comment on what Mike [Toddington] said a moment ago. The concept of information as an operating tool is crucial to security. To use information effectively must be a core competency of us all going forward. It highlights a key purpose of partnership: really connecting with someone to share actionable information. Ralph [Basham] at CBP embodies someone we can really connect with.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you, Tim [Kimsey], for the years of service and your leadership at the Port of Seattle. It’s hard to believe a sentence that includes your name and “retiring,” but on behalf of all of us at TSA who have worked with you, our very best.

Not one to waste time, I see that Tim’s already through his retirement and hard at work here again. So, all of us at TSA who wished you well in the last paragraph, look forward to working with you closely as U.S. President of IAASP.

We have important work together. Under any circumstances that would be true, but I feel we’re at an especially important time.

The terrorist threat is real and it is urgent.

Ralph [Basham] and I see evidence of their preparations every single day. We both worry that we will waste a minute today that could stop something tomorrow.

The terrorists observe no rules. To them, borders are barriers to us. Borders are to be used to their advantage.

Laws, regulations and conventions restrain only us.

Time, for us, allows too many people to forget, but to them, time is to prepare and wait for the perfect moment to attack.

We have to stay ahead of terrorists and keep them off balance to frustrate their planning.

Our common goal is to stay ahead of the game because the consequences of being otherwise are catastrophic. Staying ahead means watching, thinking, adjusting. It means acting, but not just acting alone, it requires us to act together, in concert.

If their strength is that they have no deadlines, rules, or borders, ours is that this is our turf, and there are a lot of us and we have a lot of resources.

Ralph talked about a layered defense, about pushing borders out, about going beyond physical borders. Those strategies apply to all of us.

We have to make sure there are not borders that separate us—CBP from TSA, and us from the men and women who work on the front lines and wear your badge. Our common layered approach to risk management aims to identify and stop a terrorist threat before it endangers our ports, our airports, or our citizens generally.

It is a mission-critical requirement for us all to have strong, proactive relationships with each other and our partners throughout the law enforcement and security communities. Our current challenge is to stay connected, and to engage in efficient and ever more productive ways.

I appreciate the honest, direct communication that we have with you and the support you give the TSA mission around the world. And I appreciate working with those that I shook hands with today from Pakistan, Singapore, and Taiwan. Thank you. Continuing with Ralph’s themes, TSA is moving to focus beyond the physical checkpoint, the border if you will, to look more at people and try to identify those with hostile intent even if they are not carrying a prohibited item. We invest in a lot of technology, but partnering with law enforcement in airports takes advantage of the human capability that our organizations both represent. As we come out from behind the checkpoint and extend our security throughout the airport, we will succeed with support from and in concert with the law enforcement community that is already there.

We need to practice instant-on, networked communications—within TSA and with our law enforcement and international partners.

We have many recent examples of the benefits of working together. From the August 10th liquid explosives plot foiled by UK authorities last year, to the arrests just last week of terrorists attempting a plot directed at JFK airport.

There, it was great work by the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Force, specifically at the Port Authority Police Department and the NYPD, including some of the people in this room. For over a year, this was a tightly coordinated effort of law enforcement, the intelligence community, DHS components including TSA and CBP, as well as other international partners.

These were superb team efforts and it shows once again that the best way to stop terror attacks is to disrupt and dismantle them before they are operational.

The foiled plot at JFK highlights what all of us in this room have known for some time: We are a target.

Our jobs are very much on the front lines and we must be ready at all times, in all places.

Any one of us may be in a position to stop the next attack—directly, by our own action, or more likely (and a better plan) by identifying a piece of information that we pass around the community as a whole, to enable someone else to connect the dots.

Collecting and connecting dots to stop terrorist attacks occurs only if we know each other and have set up the means to communicate with each other.

We share the mission—TSA and law enforcement—and together we share the responsibility to the public. We also have to share the information and the action it requires. We have to act as one.

While we often talk about security one component at a time and one threat at a time—what do we do for employee screening, for air cargo, for containers, watch lists, and so forth—it is critical to remember that to terrorists: We are one target.

With our network of operations spread literally over the globe, a good, connected base level of security everywhere is better than a few fortresses isolated from each other. The events of recent days prove that none of us is alone in the mission to secure our local, our national, or indeed our global, systems.

We are interdependent and we must be interconnected.

Our goal for partnership with the law enforcement and security community is the concept of a balanced network with each airport and world port, linked to the expertise and information that we need.

I mentioned earlier that security solutions don’t always have to be complicated, high-tech pieces of equipment, and that layered security can in some ways be very simple.

An investment this fiscal year of millions of dollars in sophisticated scanning technology can be effective in addressing certain threats.

An investment of a few minutes, in which we share information and decide on a common game plan, can pay off beyond calculation.

In conclusion, I join with Ralph Basham in acknowledging the vital role that you play in our common mission. We recognize that if we and our colleagues at DHS are to be successful, it will be because we figured out how to engage, connect, and share with you and the men and women you represent.

Each of us can do our jobs by ourselves. If we are to achieve our mission, we can only do it together.

Thank you very much for the opportunity to join you and the floor is open for comment.