DHS Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson: 'We Have Not Made Enough Progress'

Senior U.S. Homeland Security official acknowledges lack of progress in boosting U.S. security measures


BRUSSELS, Belgium_A senior U.S. Homeland Security official acknowledged Tuesday that not enough had been done to close gaps in the United States' national security system.

Homeland Security Department Deputy Secretary Michael P. Jackson told academics, diplomats and journalists that the U.S. government would use lessons learned since the Sept. 11 attacks to tighten security and prevent further attacks.

"We have not made enough progress and we will do more, we can do more and we must do more," Jackson said in response to a progress assessment released Monday in Washington.

The report by members of former the Sept. 11 Commission said time, money and still present terror threats have done little remove U.S. security weaknesses.

They cited disjointed airplane passenger screening methods, misuse of security funding and other problems, in saying that the U.S. administration of President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress had not moved quick enough to implement a majority of the panel's 2004 recommendations.

"I am going to say very bluntly, the Department of Homeland Security started down this road to work through the screening issues, they are extremely complex and we drove the truck into a ditch," Jackson said. "We had to pull it out of the ditch, we have cleaned it up, we are putting it back on the road and we are driving it where it needs to go."

Jackson was in Brussels to meet with EU officials, including EU Justice and Home Affairs Commissioner Franco Frattini.

He also met with EU anti-terror coordinator Gijs de Vries and met with NATO officials, to discuss the 26-nation alliance's contribution to the war on terror.

De Vries said tighter EU-U.S. cooperation was needed to battle the root causes of terrorism, including stopping radical or extremist groups from recruiting.

"The EU has just embarked on a first exercise to compare national experience in this field, to see what we can learn from radicalization in prisons, radicalization in mosques ... in the educational sector," said de Vries.

He added that the 25-nation EU and the United States had to increase existing security cooperation in airline and maritime transport, expanding it to road transport.

Brussels and Washington have signed several anti-terror cooperation agreements, including the contentious transfer of passenger name data on trans-Atlantic flights, a deal which the European Court of Justice is expected to nullify because of concerns it could violate EU privacy rules.

Jackson said it was up to the EU and the U.S. to ensure a balance between protection and civil liberties.