WASHINGTON – Security officials worldwide need to make it possible for people and goods to move quickly, safely and easily, the Homeland Security chief said Thursday.
Experts said Michael Chertoff's (search) speech at a think tank marked an important shift in the department's efforts to enlist allies in accomplishing that goal.
"There are obviously domestic characteristics to terrorism, but in terms of what the public is concerned about and certainly what the department was formed in order to address first and foremost, it is global, radical terrorism," Chertoff said.
"Terrorism in the 21st century is really the globalization of the kind of terror acts that we saw in the 20th century," Chertoff said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"And much as globalization has transformed the world of business, it has transformed the world of terror," he said.
Chertoff's comments came in advance of meetings next week in Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands with his security counterparts. It is his first trip to Europe since taking over at the department this year.
He said international standards for passenger and cargo screening (search), information sharing and law enforcement cooperation would foster "security envelopes." This would enable legitimate travelers and goods to move quickly and easily, avoiding delays from repeated identification checks.
Current systems to check passengers and cargo are "the most primitive kind of screening in many respects," Chertoff said, urging the use of more sophisticated technology.
"This is the first step in what has to be ultimately a worldwide effort," Chertoff said.
For the past two years, the department has used fingerprints and other methods to track foreigners who enter the United States and has screened cargo intended for the United States even before it leaves its international port of origin.
David Heyman, homeland security director of the organization where Chertoff spoke, said Chertoff's predecessor, Tom Ridge (search), generally did not focus much on the international aspects of the job.
"Chertoff is out of the box and has conceptualized homeland security as an international issue," Heyman said. "That's something you didn't hear before. Part of that may be a reflection of how little we did over the last couple of years."
Weeks before he stepped down, Ridge created the position of a full-time Homeland Security attache to the European Union. Ridge did meet with his counterparts from Mexico, Canada, Britain, Spain and Germany during his two years as secretary.