Our responsibility is to break apart those points within the terrorist network â€“ cut off their communication, isolate their financial resources, eliminate their transportation capabilities â€“ and in doing so dismantle the network entirely. However, to do so, to challenge the kind of interdependence a terrorist network thrives upon, we must be able to confront the network everywhere it operates. And that means we have to be able to function internationally and work together seamlessly. We have to build up and refine our own network if we are going to compete with and combat the terrorist network.
This is not necessarily a new insight. We've certainly had movement in this direction over the past couple of years. The Department of Homeland Security, along with our European and international allies, has been working on issues such as container security, biometrics and secure travel documents, as well as aviation security. In my previous job as head of the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice, we put people overseas to work with prosecutors and investigators in Europe precisely because we needed to build up a network of law enforcement that could rival the network of terror.
So this is not a new concept, but two years after the Department was formed, we have a good opportunity to start thinking about how we can build on what has already been accomplished. How do we move beyond simply partnering on an occasional, episodic basis to building a true partnership that will operate with a mission-oriented focus?
Allow me to share with you where I would like to see us move â€“ toward a world that is banded together by security envelopes, meaning secure environments through which people and cargo can move rapidly, efficiently, and safely without sacrificing security or privacy. A world where, with the proper security vetting, the proper technology, the proper travel documents, and the proper tracking of cargo, it would be possible to move relatively freely from point to point all across the globe.
For those within the security envelope, we will have a high degree of confidence and trust, so that trusted travelers and shippers don't have to be stopped at every point along the way to be re-vetted and rechecked. And that would enable us to focus more of our resources for those outside the security envelope â€“ for the kind of in-depth analysis and the kind of in-depth vetting that is necessary to make sure those who seek to harm us do not slip through the cracks.
The vision of a technologically-based system of security envelopes would happily not require a sacrifice of liberty or privacy in order to promote security. Rather, it is a vision that would actually maximize these values, that would preserve our lives, but also to foster our way of life, and uphold the civil liberties both Europeans and Americans cherish. In large part, the purpose of my trip this week is to open a dialogue on issues such as these and discuss with our European partners the way ahead. While Iâ€™m here mostly to listen and learn, there are specifically three areas in which I think we can start to move forward concretely as we try to develop this worldwide security envelope.
First, the area of screening. We have to develop a systematic approach to screening that is compatible on both sides of the Atlantic. One that takes advantage of modern technology, provides maximum protection of sensitive traveler information, and gives a real sense of confidence that we are screening out those with evil intent. Right now, in many ways we are using the most primitive kind of screening -- meaning we screen for names that match lists of terrorists and criminals. And of course, names are not the best way to identify people. Theyâ€™re certainly not as good as biometrics.
Names can be changed, identification documents can be forged. But biometric identifiers can help reduce that type of fraud and protect the identity of the visa holder by making it much more difficult to impersonate someone. In the area of cargo, we inspect with technology and by hand searching for certain kinds of harmful materials. And, we are starting to move forward using somewhat more technologically advanced devices at our ports that now allow us to look inside cargo containers without actually breaking bulk. So we are making progress, but we must press forward.
Our ability to inspect efficiently and swiftly depends on accurate screening and targeting high-risk cargo. That boils down to the overarching issues of information-sharing and tracking. The more we know about what is moving in containers, the more readily we can speed the majority of benign cargo through our ports, reserving the delay of inspection for those shipments that pose potential risks.