Session Chair-Birgit Matthiesen
Canadian Speaker-Warren Coons
United States Speaker-Todd C. Owen
Canadian Speaker-Joy Aldous
MS. MATTHIESEN: My name is Birgit Matthiesen. I work at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C. I am in the Economic and Trade Policy section of that embassy.
This panel is going to be the border guys. These are going to be spokespersons and representatives from the Canadian Border Service Agency, the Customs and Border Protection, and the RCMP, and they are here to talk to you about not only their programs but the alphabet soup of CSI, FAST, C-TPAT, AMS, AMI, (1) et cetera, et cetera.
We are going to start with Warren Coons. He is with the RCMP-and I did not realize you are a Superintendent-and he is the Director of the Integrated Border Enforcement Team which Ambassador Wilson made reference to.
We will move to his left, Mr. Todd Owens. He is the Executive Director at U.S. Customs and Border Protection for cargo and conveyance security.
And we will end up with Joy Aldous, Director of Commercial Policy, Admissibility Branch of the Canada Border Services Agency. And, hopefully after her presentation we will have some dynamic Q and A.
And so I would like to hand the mike over to Warren.
Warren Coons *
MR. COONS: Thank you very much, Birgit. First of all, it is a pleasure to be here today to speak about something that is certainly very important to the RCMP and I believe very important to all law enforcement agencies that have a nexus to the border in both of our countries.
There was a question asked at Ambassador Wilson's luncheon this afternoon about how we secure the border between Minnesota and Washington, (2) and hopefully during this presentation, you will get a better idea of how exactly we intend to do that.
As everybody here is aware, we have a very long and unique border. (3) It is characterized by remote, sparsely populated areas in some parts of the countries, our two countries, and as well, urban centers in other parts of the country. (4) This geography and the demographics of the borders pose certain challenges to law enforcement and also opportunities for criminality. (5)
Since 9/11 in particular, there has been a change in the attitude towards the perception of the border, in some quarters the border is perceived as a threat. (6) The level of that threat is certainly debatable; (7) however, there are a couple of givens that we definitely accept. And they are first of all, that it is virtually impossible to eliminate 100 percent of threats along the border. (8) And the second is that organized crime has and will continue to exploit any vulnerabilities or gaps along that border. (9) So for these reasons, it is imperative that law enforcement remain ever-vigilant and innovative and most importantly, intelligence-led, (10) something I will touch upon a little bit later as we confront the challenges at the border.
So, just to give you a brief history of the Integrated Border Enforcement Teams: in December of 2001, our two governments signed the Smart Border Declaration. (11) The four pillars of that Smart Border Declaration are the secure flow of goods, people, and secure infrastructure, and as well, the coordination of intelligence sharing and information sharing in the pursuit of those initiatives. (12)
The Smart Border Declaration also had a 30-point action plan included in it. (13) One of those points was the establishment of Integrated Border Enforcement Teams across our two countries. (14) Initially IBETs were a local initiative in Washington State and British Columbia, and highly successful in that area. (15) As a result of 9/11, as they looked around for opportunities to improve border security, it was determined that IBET would be an appropriate response for our two countries. (16)
The five core agencies in the IBETs as it stands today are the Canada Border Services Agency, RCMP, U.S. Customs Border Protection Office of Border Patrol, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, and U.S. Coast Guard. (17)
There are 15 IBET regions and 24 IBET units across Canada. (18) I say Canada because in Canada we have dedicated-the RCMP and CBSA have dedicated-resources to the
Integrated Border Enforcement Teams while in the United States (19) they work under the IBET philosophy, that we can call upon our U.S partners in those core agencies and work closely and collaboratively with them on a regular basis; (20) however, they do not have dedicated resources attached to the IBET program. (21) There are a lot of good reasons to expect that that could change in the near future, but I certainly do not want to let anything out of the bag here especially considering some of the people in the room here today. But we would hope that the IBET program is something that is embraced, and that dedicated resources will be put into this initiative on both sides of the border in the near future.
I should also, as we move forward, clear up any misunderstandings there may be about how we might operate. Even though we talk about integrated teams, from a law enforcement perspective, there is no gun-toting police officers from Canada working in the United States or vice-versa. (22) When we are talking about actual enforcement work, there are still barriers in places that prevent us from crossing the border with our firearms. (23) That does not happen, but we work were closely together exchanging intelligence and information on a regular basis. (24)
However, from the intelligence side, there is integration where we are working in each other's countries. (25) There are five co-locations Integrated Border Intelligence Teams (IBIT) across both of our countries, three in the United States, two in Canada. (26) And these have representatives from all the agencies who are working together, exchanging intelligence, and working through problems in the same office in each of our countries. (27)
So the IBET model: I touched upon the intelligence-led policing, which we believe is so important. IBETs are intelligence-led enforcement teams comprised of federal, state, provincial, and local law enforcement personnel working together to enhance our border security. (28)
So what exactly is intelligence-led? Essentially what it means is that our border is so long and diverse that it is impossible and ineffective to string law enforcement officers on each side, every mile along our border. (29) It simply will not work.
We must collaborate and, yes, integrate our operations to the greatest extent possible and rely on the intelligence to direct our operations to where we believe we will have the greatest opportunity for success. (30)
And we must also ensure that there is a seamless and fluid exchange of information between our border investigative units and our inland investigative units because organized crime does not reside at the border. (31) Organized crime is in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York, other places as well. (32) The primary places are the large centers where it resides. (33)
Now, the IBET model. The way that it is structured in the IBET world is that there is an International Joint Management Team. (34) There is a senior representative from each of the five core agencies that meet quarterly along with U.S. attorneys and Canadian Department of Justice and a smattering of other local officials depending on where the meetings are held. This group is responsible essentially for the management of and oversees the IBET program. (35)
At the next level there is an International Coordination Team, which is housed at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, (36) which consists of representatives from all of the core agencies; (37) at least one representative from all the core agencies, some have more. This is the group that essentially administers the IBET program and deals with policy issues on a daily basis. (38)
But the most critical aspect of the IBET program is its local Joint Management Teams. (39) These are groups of not only the five core agencies in each of the local areas, but the all of the other law enforcement agencies in that particular area recruited to participate in the JMT. (40) The joint management team meets on a monthly basis to assess-to bring the intelligence from its agencies, assess that intelligence, and prioritize targeting. (41) In some of our most productive IBET units-just to give you an example-there are 13 law enforcement agencies that sit around the table. (42) They discuss what the threats are in their areas, and they decide at that table what investigations the IBET will work on. (43) There is actually a secret vote that is held once they pare it down to three investigations. (44)
That is the level of collaboration and cooperation that we have within some joint management teams. Now it does not mean that every agency that sits around the table is going to participate in each investigation, but rather those that can, those that have the resources, those that have the interest in that particular investigation will participate. (45) But even those that do not have an understanding of what the threats are in that area and what the local JMT is working on. This serves to simplify so that we are not running over each other as we move through criminal investigations. The JMT serves a very important function, and is really at the heart of the IBET program.
Our IBET priorities are national security, organized crime, and other border criminality. (46) National security is the number one priority of all law enforcement agencies in each of our countries. (47) But the reality is that the vast majority of what we work on in the IBET program is organized crime files. (48) And of those organized crime files, primarily smuggling organizations with drugs being the second most common investigation in which we are engaged. (49)
So the case for IBET and why it is the most appropriate model. First of all, like all entities, law...