Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 8, 2008

Rice Leads International Talks on Terrorism, But Where is DHS?

Filed under: International HLS,Organizational Issues — by Jonah Czerwinski on September 8, 2008

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met over the weekend with the leaders of Libya and Tunisia to seek better cooperation on counterterrorism. This is exactly the geography that needs our attention. There is fertile ground for the U.S. to articulate shared interests with the countries of northern Africa.

Yet, while Algeria recently has endured a surge in terrorism-related violence, with more than 100 people killed last month, it will be difficult to gain the cooperation we seek. We need them more than they need us in this effort.

The Post reported how Rice noted that “Our counterterrorism people think that cooperation here is good. But there is always more that you can do to tighten sharing of information, to make sure you have all the right channels to give technical support in terms of the terrorism threat.”

Indeed, we have a lot to give and a lot to gain. But providing the “technical support” and “information sharing” Secretary Rice offers requires Departments other than hers. While this may be a discussion brokered by diplomats, the Secretary of Homeland Security should have a seat at the table.

This is why this blog and its readers have repeatedly outlined options for unifying efforts overseas by the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security. Granted, the kind of assistance these countries seek in return for cooperation with the U.S. may be well beyond that which is necessary for combating terrorist threats, but we have an interest in limiting the vulnerability of populations everywhere to the threats of terrorist violence. If that means training up border officials in Egypt, outfitting maritime security guards in Morrocco, or installing detection equipment along the Mediterranean, this is a job best led – or at least supported – by the Department of Homeland Security.

For more on policy options that can help elevate such cooperation on the international level, see these posts and other resources:

Europe Steps In to Bridge Mediterranean. But Where’s the U.S.?

DHS International Programs Under Scrutiny

Middle East Eyes Homeland Security

Int’l Security Summit Misses HLS Opportunity

As I understand, DHS did serve a role in these talks with Algeria and Tunisia. Its unclear if it was advance/prep or actual conduct of the meetings. I’ll update this post if I get details about the role DHS served.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Google Bookmarks
  • email
  • Print
  • LinkedIn


Comment by William R. Cumming

September 8, 2008 @ 3:27 pm

Well Jonah you keep trying. Just remember State’s budget competes with DHS and DOD and DOJ! Until someone figures out cooperation and collaboration is rewarded on the HILL don’t expect DHS at the table.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 9, 2008 @ 6:04 am

Could the reason the Director of Homeland Security was not seated at the table in anticipation of a new administration whether the maverick John McCain’s administration and his own views or that of Barack Hussein Obama’s administration, thus the decison was made to have only Rice alone at the helm?

As – “Joe Citizen” – (we) entrust both sides of the aisle to do its utmost to safeguard our great nation from those seeking our demise, so stop the politicizing and let’s hope whomever the American voter chooses, our safety is their priority!

Christopher Tingus
Harwich, MA USA

Comment by Jonah Czerwinski

September 9, 2008 @ 6:22 am

WRC — You’re right, but DHS competes with everyone for budget given the massive scope of its mission. Do you really think that “cooperation and collaboration is rewarded on the HILL?” I can’t say one way or the other, but getting DHS to serve a more central role on the international front will certainly require Presidential leadership.

Comment by Dan Philpott

September 11, 2008 @ 9:55 pm

The conduct of foreign policy falls within the remit of the Department of State. Involving as few agents speaking on behalf of the United States when communicating with other countries is the only way to do so effectively. The Department of Homeland Security emphatically does not need to have a seat at the table. It’s hard enough for State to manage our international relations with the Department of Defense conducting de facto foreign policy.

Our foreign partners certainly don’t mind this state of affairs. If the professionals at State don’t give them the answer they want then they can ask the less experienced staff in some other agency.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>