Dailey: Information sharing is the essence of counterterrorism activities
On May 30, GMF hosted a luncheon discussion entitled, "U.S. and European approaches in the fight against terrorism." The event featured Dell L. Dailey, coordinator for counterterrorism at the U.S. Department of State, and Jeremy Shapiro of The Brookings Institute's Center on the United States and Europe, GMF Senior Transatlantic fellow Ambassador Michael Polt moderated the discussion, which was held under the Chatham House rule.
The presentations began by exploring whether or how European and American threat perceptions differ and shape their approaches to counterterrorism. It was confirmed that the threat was almost identical on both sides of the Atlantic, but that the U.S. approach of labeling counterterrorism efforts a "war" was rooted in cultural differences. The U.S. approach is primarily focused on an external threat, while the European response is largely focused on an internal threat. Counterterrorism policies do not have to be identical, the participants suggested, as long as there is sufficient communication and understanding among policymakers as to their differences. Discussants also agreed that U.S. and European counterterrorism cooperation, despite occasional tensions at the senior political level, has been consistently strong at the working level. Intelligence sharing and working together with other contributing countries in NATO's Afghanistan mission were cited as practical examples of cooperation.
Despite close cooperation, extraordinary renditions and curtailing civil liberties continue to be politically highly sensitive for European governments that need to explain better to their publics the nature of the threat and the impact of their own counterterrorism efforts. French counterterrorism policies were cited as an example of counter-terrorism policies with strong implications for civil liberties but ones that have been integrated into the French legal system. In order to wage a more effective fight against terrorism it is critical to convince U.S. and European publics of the legitimacy of counterterrorism measures. This includes stronger transatlantic cooperation on the "soft side" through organizations such as the G8 and the United Nations, whose counterterrorism efforts were praised. While the United Nations is unlikely to become an operational actor, the UN has value in setting a baseline in how to deal with the threat of terrorism and in coordinating various counterterrorism efforts among member states. In conclusion, participants agreed that continued counterterrorism cooperation between the U.S. and Europe was critical, but the transatlantic partners are unlikely to always agree on all aspects of counterterrorism policies.