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. RZ

    Yes I still am rupert. I have so much work that I hardly have time to read or post here. I am so tired.

    June 11, 2014 at 12:45 am | Reply
  2. rupert

    I understand. Can we ever play golf again?

    June 11, 2014 at 12:48 am | Reply
  3. RZ

    Yes rupert of course. This weekend. Ok?

    June 11, 2014 at 12:49 am | Reply
  4. rupert

    Oh great. I will take my mistress dazzle. We will be in Munich by noon. Just have plenty of rum. Dazzle lives to party.
    bye RZ.

    June 11, 2014 at 12:51 am | Reply
  5. RZ

    Ok. But just remember what happened the last time dazzle was your caddy and drank so much.

    June 11, 2014 at 12:53 am | Reply
  6. rupert

    Yea I know. I can control her so don't worry.

    June 11, 2014 at 12:54 am | Reply
  7. RZ

    Gute nacht

    June 11, 2014 at 12:58 am | Reply
  8. rupert

    Gute nacht RZ. Love u dude. In a non-gay way of course.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:00 am | Reply
  9. banasy©

    New icon = old lies.

    June 11, 2014 at 10:43 am | Reply
  10. rupert

    Will the person that stole my icon stop it!
    Whoever you are, u just cost me my friend banasy, whom I love very much like a sister.
    @banasy. Someone hijacked my name and icon.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      Lying like a rug again.

      June 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  11. rupert

    @banasy and dazzle. How dare u slander my name all over these threads and poision the public perception of me by calling me a liar.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      If the shoe fits troll. Speaking of slander, I'll see you in court.

      June 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm | Reply
  12. rupert

    Yes. I have the best lawyer in the nation. If u apologize I might let u walk.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  13. rupert

    BTW. Please don't call me troll. U and me go back three years. Don't become so impersonal sweet pie.

    June 11, 2014 at 1:57 pm | Reply
  14. rupert

    Bye ♥dazzle♥

    June 11, 2014 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  15. dazzle

    You were using the name little mister and Kenny Rogers. I don't forget.

    June 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  16. rupert

    True. Why lie

    June 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      Were you also Mitch?

      June 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm | Reply
    • banasy©


      That's why.

      June 11, 2014 at 2:52 pm | Reply
  17. rupert


    June 11, 2014 at 4:56 pm | Reply
  18. rupert

    Pathological liar yourself banasy. ♡

    June 11, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  19. rupert

    And dazzle. As per your question, I would see someone talk to chrissy as Mitch. It was not me, but then for fun I did mitch a few times. Not as much as the real mitch or mitch troll. I was not the only one.
    also someone said chrissy dropped a duce. It bothered me. I didn't do that. That was a mean troll.
    Any other questions dazzle or banny???
    Dazzle, why did u steal my name and ask RZ if he dispise me in German? That was strange. I miss him. He is really smart like Philip or joey. Do u miss RZ. I wish he came back.

    June 11, 2014 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • dazzle

      No Rupert it wasn't me. I don't speak German.

      June 11, 2014 at 5:21 pm | Reply
  20. rupert

    Ok banny. Nope. I agree. U are not one.

    June 11, 2014 at 5:10 pm | Reply
  21. rupert

    Ok. Sure. If u wanna play it that way. It's just that the icon matched your icon and you know four different languages with German being one of them. But whatever you say, dazzle.

    June 11, 2014 at 5:28 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      That would be you, Rupert.
      She doesn't speak German.
      And as much as you try to pretend to, you know very little about her at all outside of your imagination.

      June 11, 2014 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  22. rupert

    I just scanned the icons. Dazzle is pink then her troll is yellow.
    I don't speak to trolls. Nice try.

    June 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      How bloody dumb are you going to continue to pretend to be? How many devices do YOU use?
      Just leave us alone.
      That isn't too much to ask.

      June 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  23. chri§§y

    Ive heard mine is green.

    June 11, 2014 at 5:56 pm | Reply
  24. rupert


    June 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm | Reply
  25. banasy

    I'm sorry rupert. I didn't mean that. I'm having a bad hair day.

    June 11, 2014 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      Not even clise to a decent imitation. Did you have to wipe the screen of after you typed that little fantasy?

      June 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  26. rupert

    *2nd yawn*

    June 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm | Reply
  27. rupert

    It's ok banasy. I forgive u.

    June 11, 2014 at 8:02 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      ...he says to himself...

      June 11, 2014 at 8:04 pm | Reply
  28. dazzle

    Rupert it was me and not a troll. I dont speak German. You know better than most how these icons work. Depending on the device I am in lavender or yellow. I obviously used two devices today. I'm glad you got rid of the troll icon but I see it is used as the General or Joseph McCarthy.

    June 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  29. chri§§y

    Lol seriously @ dazzle? You KNOW they are all the same person right?

    June 11, 2014 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  30. rupert

    U and crazy banasy will never get rid of me. Never!

    June 11, 2014 at 8:34 pm | Reply
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