June 9th, 2014
12:28 PM ET

How the market can undermine terrorism

By Jay Cohen and Barry Blechman, Special to CNN

Editor’s note: Jay Cohen (RADM, USN, Ret.) is a principal at Chertoff Group. Barry Blechman is a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center. They are chair and vice chair, respectively, of Stimson’s Partners in Prevention Task Force, which released its final recommendations on May 29. The views expressed are their own.

On October 29, 2010, airplanes carrying two unremarkable packages left Yemen. Were it not for an eleventh-hour intelligence tip, the bomb inside each parcel, disguised by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as a printer cartridge, likely would have continued to evade standard security checks and detonated over the eastern United States.

Despite its frantic search for a quick fix to prevent similar incidents in the future, the U.S. government surprised many by foregoing immediate regulatory action. Instead, it collaborated with the major express air delivery companies to enhance sharing of security information without hampering legitimate trade.

The result of those discussions – the Air Cargo Advance Screening regime – highlights one of the many ways government and industry can work together to create a successful solution to the challenge of maintaining security in a global economy. At once, globalization has opened opportunities for billions of people, but it has also empowered criminals and terrorists on a worldwide scale. Unfortunately, nearly four years after the cargo plane plot, many critical security gaps that take root in modern global trade remain.

Public and private interests alike face a genuine threat from criminals taking advantage of supply chains for illicit activities. Drugs, nuclear materials and many other forms of contraband are smuggled through the same infrastructure that powers legitimate, modern global trade. Not even the most well-resourced law enforcement and intelligence efforts can keep pace in this environment. Instead, government and industry must work together to develop a range of mutually beneficial approaches to confront the different ways market dynamics affect security challenges today. Correctly applied, these measures will create a marketplace of action that undermines terrorism and related transnational crimes.

And fixing current security gaps won’t require a legislative overhaul or rolls of government red tape – well-coordinated industry measures and modest regulatory changes can go far in advancing the security goals of government as well as U.S. economic competitiveness.

Now is an opportune moment to act, and the intersection of security concerns with the interests of leading U.S. exporters is the place to start. This would build on the momentum of several of the Obama administration’s priorities that industry is watching closely. These include major reforms to U.S. exports of “dual-use” goods and technologies – those with both commercial and military applications. It also includes the National Export Initiative, a distinct effort to promote U.S. exports generally that recently entered a new phase dubbed “NEI/NEXT.”

So how might a new marketplace of action support important initiatives like these?

Government and industry should work together toward a system in which U.S. exporters following a checklist of government-recognized best practices become eligible for broader export and trade opportunities. This would allow government to focus its limited attention and resources on exports that pose the highest security risk, while incentivizing enhanced due diligence practices throughout industry to vet questionable clients. The result would be a system that reduces the likelihood that potentially dangerous technologies fall into the wrong hands.

Information sharing is another area ripe for improvement. Multiple layers of export controls and sanctions often leave even the best-intentioned company wondering whether it is living up to the letter of the law. In many cases, such ambivalence causes companies to pass on business opportunities they would have acted on in a less ambiguous regulatory environment. As such, a better two-way flow of information on issues related to trade and technology transfer could clarify ambiguities in current regulations and help firms avoid risky transactions that may harm their bottom line – either directly or through damage to their brands.

Congress can play a role in these efforts by extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program. The program realigns government and industry incentives to enhance both national security and economic competitiveness. Extending the program in the short-term and studying ways to improve it in the long-term will be a major step forward in anti-trafficking efforts.

Let there be no mistake: traditional law and regulation will remain vital to our security for the foreseeable future, but on their own they won’t suffice. Detecting and disrupting illicit trade today demands the concerted effort of government and the private sector. Government must not wait for a tragedy – or a near-miss – to adopt more pragmatic policy that closes existing security gaps. Working with industry, it has within its reach new tools to detect, reduce and prevent incidents of terrorism and illicit global trade.

Post by:
Topics: Economy • Terrorism

soundoff (92 Responses)
  1. sandstorm

    only when USA Britain Ireland Dublin Norway Oslo Ghana Accra Israel and all there allies are nuked then will Allahs will be manifested even your children will be cut down like n i g g e r pigs only when you all burn up in an ocean of boiling electro magnetic energy will this earth be cleaned of your s c u m kind only islam is superior people should spit in obamas n i g g e r eyes.

    June 9, 2014 at 5:38 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ sandstorm,
      Your concept of Islam is based on the perversion of respect for your fellow man and submission to the will of God.
      You should learn about peace.

      June 9, 2014 at 6:55 pm | Reply
    • My picture

      My picture of your holy muhammad (from the Koran. Not the millions of other muhammads):


      June 10, 2014 at 9:57 am | Reply
    • banasy©

      Silence, infidel.

      June 10, 2014 at 2:38 pm | Reply
    • rupert

      jihad to u. May your next born have the face of your camel's behind. May all your children get fat as us americans.

      June 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  2. chri§§y

    You sure are one freak of nature aint you? Ya know you get what you give in life...so youre in for a real journey to he!!

    June 9, 2014 at 6:21 pm | Reply
  3. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joey, are you being sarcastic?

    June 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy:
      I was not at all sarcastic.
      Islam is based on peace. The derivation of its name is "peace." Muslims who focus on constant, fanatical Jihad pervert Islam with the same stupidity and neurosis that Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church perverted Christianity.
      All USA citizens need to be educated regarding all religions practiced in our country. Atheism should also be understood and respected as a legitimate choice.

      June 10, 2014 at 5:39 am | Reply
  4. chri§§y

    Lol @ Joey i meant when you said i was wise.

    June 10, 2014 at 6:17 am | Reply
  5. rupert

    Hello to all my admirers, fans, and friends.there are going to be some changes in these threads next month.
    I will be changing my name. U will just have to guess who I am then.
    I will be taking over the pizza posts. Kenny never does them anymore cuz he is too bored with them.
    I will might get a new icon with my new name.will the person that stole my previous icon please give it back?
    thank u for reading my post.
    no cutie patootie. Joey was not being sarcastic. U really are wise, usually.

    June 10, 2014 at 8:26 am | Reply
  6. chri§§y

    Lololol @ rupert...so what youre really saying is....business as usual right?

    June 10, 2014 at 10:54 am | Reply
  7. chri§§y

    Lololol @ rupert...so what youre really saying is....business as usual.

    June 10, 2014 at 10:54 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini©

      @ chrissy:
      @ rupert just heard that a label with the words "NEW" or "IMPROVED" boosts sales.
      "SAME ORIGINAL FORMULA" is good, too.

      June 10, 2014 at 1:15 pm | Reply
  8. chri§§y

    Ok that was wierd. Sorry bout the duplicate posts.

    June 10, 2014 at 10:56 am | Reply
  9. rupert..new and improved. .

    @chrissy, right
    @chrissy, right
    @joey, so true.

    June 10, 2014 at 1:52 pm | Reply
  10. chri§§y

    Lmao yup..."same and original" rupert! Good one @ Joey!

    June 10, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      There is nothing original about him.

      June 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Reply
  11. chri§§y

    Lmao actually @ banasy there is. Because no one else is trying to be him lol.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm | Reply
  12. rupert

    Awww banasy baby. U hate my guts? Good. That just turns me on.

    June 10, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Reply
  13. chri§§y

    Wow! @ rupert! Now THAT explains why no one wants to be you! Saying what you just did puts you down to the same level as sandstorm!

    June 10, 2014 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  14. rupert

    Ok. I didnt know . I take it back. I didn't mean it. It's banasy's fault. She suckered me into saying something bad.
    shame on u banasy! Bad Russian. Bad.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:10 pm | Reply
  15. rupert

    Sandstorm u are a mean person. Nobody likes u. Or haven't u noticed. U are going to end up alone with nobody to love u. No wife no friends no real life.only animals by your side because they don't know how u really are. You will just hang out at blogs and post bad stuff all day. And be a troll. And bother other bloggers.I feel sorry for u.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:18 pm | Reply
  16. chri§§y

    Lol you cant take it back! Once its laid out on the internet its there for life! Unless you live in Europe that is lol.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  17. rupert

    Europe. Right I get it.
    I am salivating I wonder if banasy won't mind one innocent pizza post.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:26 pm | Reply
  18. rupert

    Better not. Hell has no fury like banasy.

    June 10, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  19. chri§§y

    FYI: animals dont like mean people either. And they can spot em quicker than we can!

    June 10, 2014 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  20. sandstorm

    I like pepperoni pizza. Sooooo good.
    praise Mohamed. He is great!

    June 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Reply
  21. rupert

    Sounds true chrissy. Gonna google that to expand on your remark. Thank u, cutie patootie

    June 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm | Reply
  22. chri§§y

    It IS true. Animals are a very good judge of character!

    June 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm | Reply
  23. georgeargiriou

    hi, i am a Civil enginear and my math says that there is going 2 b an earthquake about 7 richter at the state of california tonight.i believe 2 my math ,becouse the math is the languege of the GOD.it is not 4 panic.it is just a guess.

    June 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  24. chri§§y

    Lol @ Georgeargirou, you mustve been talking about the earthquake that happened by Eric Cantor losing the primary huh? Lol

    June 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm | Reply
  25. rupert

    I'm speechless

    June 11, 2014 at 12:36 am | Reply
  26. rupert

    Hi RZ.. How ya been buddy.

    June 11, 2014 at 12:38 am | Reply
  27. RZ


    June 11, 2014 at 12:39 am | Reply
  28. rupert

    How's work? You still an economist for the German government?

    June 11, 2014 at 12:43 am | Reply
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