Schäuble addesses internal security challenges on NPR
GMF and NPR Worldwide are pleased to bring you German Interior Minister Schäuble's keynote address from a September 24, 2007, event entitled "Internal security challenges in the transatlantic relationship - How can we reconcile personal freedoms and security?"
The hourlong program aired on Saturday and Monday, October 20 and 22, at 8 a.m. on all NPR Worldwide channels. The entire program, which concludes with a GMF Podcast with Dr. Schaeuble following his keynote address, is available here on the GMF website by clicking on the link below:
Security Challenges in the Transatlantic Relationship - Wolfgang Schäuble
Schäuble: Intelligence most important instrument against terrorism
On September 24, GMF hosted German Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble for a discussion entitled "Internal Security Challenges in the Transatlantic Relationship -- How Can We Reconcile Personal Freedoms and Security?" He spoke to an audience of approximately 75 influential leaders, thinkers, diplomats, and journalists from the Washington policy community.
Schäuble began by discussing the recent arrests of three suspected terrorists in Germany who had amassed a large amount of chemicals and related explosive materials. He then praised the work of authorities who prevented this potential attack thanks to the cooperation and communication between separate security services. Schäuble stressed the state's role regarding security and its mandate to protect its citizens, noting that "it is important to maintain the balance between what is necessary in terms of security and what can be justified under the rule of law." He continued, "there is no categorical trade-off between liberty and security. In fact, these goals mutually complement one another in a way that cannot be understood in terms of opposites."
He emphasized the new types of security threats in a globalizing era, including international terrorism and global crime, and pointed out that there has been a blurring of lines between external and internal security. The new asymmetric nature of conflicts in the 21st century and the importance of media dominance in this new struggle.
Schäuble asserted that international cooperation must be at the forefront of efforts to counter these new types of threats given the permeability, or even the abolition, of borders. As terrorists and criminals have adapted to this new openness with their networks, so too must states, stating that, "the most important instrument in the fight against terrorism is intelligence. Information is our only chance to avert threats before damage is caused."
He pointed to the agreement between the United States and the European Union on the transfer of passenger name records as an example of the type of cooperation he sees as vital to ensuring security. He placed special emphasis upon the importance of the role of the internet in both terrorism and countering it, explaining that, "the internet's decentralized and unregulated structure offers a huge resource for terrorists: It is at once a communication platform, an advertising medium, a distance university, a training camp, a think tank and an instrument for recruiting new terrorists."
He made a case for greater control of information technology, arguing that the state must confront terrorists and criminals wherever they operate. Here there is a delicate balance between civil liberties, security concerns and data protection that, "require the state to establish transparent rules defining who collects which data for what purpose, which data may be linked, how long they may be stored and so on."
Schäuble stressed that the international cooperation can be further developed by continuing to build the U.S.-EU High-Level Contact Group on data protection issues. He warned against unilateral approaches in this new globalized context, and stressed the need for a common understanding of international security policy. He proposed thinking about a transatlantic security area resting on a solid legal basis, similar to the EU's area of freedom, security and justice. He also urged a new discussion on international law. Given that the boundaries between internal and external security are blurred, the distinction between international law in peacetime and international law in war is no longer helpful due to the vagaries between combatant and non combatant. The time is clearly ripe for a new and wide ranging discussion on these issues.
In the discussion that followed, a number of questions were raised on the new immigration regulations in Germany, his view of the visit of the Iranian president to the UN, and his proposals for transatlantic cooperation. The entire event audio will be available soon on this page.
The full transcript of Minister Schäuble's speech is available below:
Internal Security Challenges in the Transatlantic Relationship (PDF-545KB)