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 You are in: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice > Former Secretaries of State > Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell > Speeches and Remarks > 2003 > November

Remarks at the Overseas Security Advisory Council

Secretary Colin L. Powell
Dean Acheson Auditorium
Washington, DC
November 13, 2003

(8:45 a.m. EST)

Well, thank you very much, Frank, for that non-introduction. (Laughter.) You could have said something. (Laughter.) Guy grows a goatee and he kind of goes native on me. I don't know. (Laughter.)

Thank you, Frank, for your welcome, and especially thank you for the outstanding work that you and the members of your team continue to do every day in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security. Frank has been given one of the toughest jobs in the Department, one of the toughest jobs in government, and he and the hundreds of dedicated members of the Bureau do a great job taking care of security around the world, not only for personalities but especially for the individuals who are out there on the firing line in our embassies. And they are on the firing line. They are on the frontlines of freedom, frontlines of diplomacy. And we believe strongly that we have an obligation to protect them to the best of our ability, and Frank and his team do a great job of that.

I would also like to congratulate Joe Morton and Bob Littlejohn for the dedication that they have shown as co-chairmen of the Overseas Security Advisory Council. And Michael Evanoff is doing a tremendous job as OSAC's executive director, and I want to thank you, Michael, for the terrific job that you have done.

And I am pleased to welcome each and every one of you to the Department this morning for the 18th [Annual Briefing]. Your presence not only shows your steadfast commitment to OSAC, but also to the public-private partnerships that are helping us promote peace, prosperity and security around the world. If we have learned anything at the dawn of our new century, it is that gathering threats in distant places can pose very real dangers, not only at home but wherever our homes may be overseas.

Like the men and women of the State Department, you are working and living on every continent. That makes each of you a potential target of terrorist activities. But each of you also has the ability to do something about it. You have the ability to fight back against terrorism. You possess the power to create economic growth, and growth is one of our most effective weapons against terrorism. Because growth, economic growth, promotes peace. It gives people hope. It rebuilds their economies. It gives them the promise of a better life.

And if they have the promise of a better life, they will not be as vulnerable to the false sirens of terrorism. Growth puts roofs over their heads and food on their tables and gives them a chance to educate their children, now that they have jobs through economic growth. It gives them hope and leads them in the right direction, and not in the wrong direction.

Growth ensures that one less cry of despair is another victory for hope. That is why it is vital that you continue to invest, you continue to take risks, and trade. Because when you do, you are inoculating the world, through those activities, against evil.

But as powerful as growth and prosperity are, they cannot thrive without security. We see that in Iraq today -- there is growth taking place.

There are a lot of good things going on in Iraq: Reconstruction is taking place; the power grid is up; the export of petroleum - up; revenues from petroleum higher than we thought; kids going to school; town councils being formed. So many things are going well in Iraq, but because of the security situation, there is unease and there is concern.

And what we have to do is work through those security issues -- make sure we get it under control. And once we do, people will see all of the good things that are going on, and it demonstrates once again that you must have security in order for growth to take place and prosperity to take root.

Security in an age of terrorism is a tall task -- too tall for anyone -- government or any one business or any one nonprofit organization to manage it alone. And that is why OSAC is more important than ever.

From its earliest days in 1985 when my predecessor and good friend Secretary Schultz met with a handful of chief executives, OSAC has grown to a constituency of over 2300 organizations and 64 country councils. And OSAC continues to deliver.

Let's look at a sample of this past year's activities. When the housing compound in Riyadh was attacked and the Marriot Hotel in Jakarta was bombed, OSAC's country council network helped us quickly share crucial information between our Embassies and the private sector.

After the dust had settled, Diplomatic Security was able to reach out to the country councils: The American Chamber of Commerce, American business groups and private sector organizations -- to learn from the attacks so that we can better defend against future threats by sharing what we had learned.

Also this year, OSAC effectively served as a security pipeline for the coordination of efforts around major international events such as the Paris Air Show, the European Union Summit in Greece, and the recent World Bank and IMF Fund Summit in Dubai.

And in the run-up to the 2004 Olympic games, a new Athens country council website will serve as a "one-stop-shop" for private sector businesses and organizations as they make their security preparations for attendance at the Olympics.

We are committed to working with you to ensure that your facilities are safe, that investments keep flowing, and that your people can do their jobs without having to look over their shoulders every moment in fear.

At its core, OSAC, as you all know, is about information exchange. By the end of the month, every country council -- not just Greece -- will have its own website. Until now the central OSAC Web page was the primary online watering hole for all of you. Soon, with the click of a mouse, the councils will be able to access each other's websites and share meeting notes, share contacts, and above all, share best practices with one another.

The new websites are part of our push to strengthen existing country councils and create more of them. OSAC's goal is to have 100 country councils by the end of September of next year. We want to work with you to ensure that a country council is in reach of every private sector business and organization.

In order for that to happen, we need you to make sure that someone from your organization is always represented on the councils. We also need to hear from you more often -- not just on the issue of terrorism -- but also about intellectual property violations, transnational crime and foreign government corruption.

Remember, OSAC is an exchange. Sharing information must be a two-way street. Let us know what you're thinking, not just at these annual briefings, but throughout the year. And I mean that. I mean that very, very strongly and from the bottom of my heart.

I'm a great believer of information exchange. Over the last -- an almost, now, three years of our stewardship of the Department, we have done a lot to improve information exchange throughout the Department. In the last two years, alone, we have put in place a brand new information system that connects every single individual and every single Embassy by the Internet, at the speed of light, in a secure manner, with everyone else in the Department.

In the next year or so, we will be going away from all of the old systems of sending cables to one another. It will all be by Internet -- electronic, absolutely secure. 44,250 computers have been distributed throughout the Department over the last two years to make this happen. And only when you have made it happen in the form of putting it out there in the form of computers and all the other infrastructure that goes with it, then you have to change your procedures. Then you have to generate a culture of talking at the speed of light and sending data at the speed of light so that we can make maximum use of the investment we have made in information technology.

The culture has to change. Information exchange must become an understandable, two-way street between all of our offices, all of our Embassies and the home office, here. And I hope that same spirit of moving information quickly -- ideas quickly will penetrate your work and everything you do within OSAC. Use the websites to report back to us on concerns, on incidents that have occurred, on threats you have received. The more we share, the safer we become. My colleagues, my friends, we live in a time of heightened security risk, but we must not let that risk stop us from seizing the boundless opportunities available to us at home and abroad. Working together, we can ensure that the terrorists fail to make fear a fact of every day life.

Working together, we won't let terrorists make peace and prosperity appear risky or out of reach to people across the globe. We must be vigilant. We must be vigilant in securing our facilities, protecting our people, dismantling the threats and showing terrorists for what they are: enemies of freedom. Above all, we simply must not allow the threat of terrorism to cause us to withdraw from the global stage. Otherwise, they will have won.

By working together in the spirit of a partnership, we can send a powerful message to a world so eager for leadership -- a message of courage, a message of commitment, a message of hope. And I'm counting on each and every one of you to help us write that message and deliver it forcefully around the world.

I want to thank you for the work that you have been doing with OSAC, and I want to thank you again for coming to this annual meeting.

Thank you very much.

(Applause.)

If you will indulge me for one more moment, I'd like to invite Bob Littlejohn back up here, if he would please come up. As you all know, the theme of this year's annual briefing is leadership, and anyone who has worked with Bob will tell you that he is a born leader, and I would expect nothing [less] from a kid from the Bronx, a mensch from the Bronx, one of mine, and I watched how Bob helped transform OSAC in his time here. He came on board just after 9/11, did a tremendous job getting the organization ready to meet the new challenges of the new world that we were entering at that time.

Like any true leader, Bob has not only inspired his people to go take the next hill, he has been there with them as they went up that hill. He has devoted enormous amount of time and energy to ensuring that OSAC accomplished its mission. Because of Bob, OSAC is smarter, more nimble, more prepared for the security threats that come our way, and for that we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude, and I'd like to give him this plaque as a modest symbol of our respect and admiration for all that he has done. Bob, thank you so much.

(Applause.)

Thank you all very much. Thank you.

2003/1156 (REVISED)


Released on November 13, 2003

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