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The 9/11 decade: address to the United States Studies Centre, Sydney



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL

HON ROBERT McCLELLAND MP

ADDRESS TO THE UNITED STATES STUDIES CENTRE

‘THE 9/11 DECADE’

SYDNEY

TUESDAY, 7 JUNE 2011

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First, may I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we meet on - and pay my

respects to their elders, both past and present.

 Professor Geoffrey Garrett, CEO of The United States Studies Centre;

 Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.

The United States Studies Centre has become a significant leader in its field and I

sincerely appreciate the opportunity to speak with you today. The Centre‘s existence

within the University of Sydney reflects both the importance of our close friendship and

partnership with the United States, and indeed our shared values and goals.

Today, I will speak about the 9/11 decade - reflecting on our national security policy

response and outline what we intend to achieve in the coming years.

As we approach 10 years since 9/11, I recall the New York Times editorial of September

12, 2001 which defined the moment accurately. The Times wrote:

―It was one of those moments in which history splits, and we define the world as

―before‖ and ―after‖.‖

Let me speak to the ―world after‖ and firstly turn to the demise of the perpetrator, Usama

Bin Laden. Bin Laden‘s death has attracted much interest and speculation on both the

implications for our national security policy response, and for the future of Al Qa‘ida.

Bin Laden‘s death is an important milestone in the international fight against anti-Western

transnational terrorism, and a blow to the morale of Al Qa‘ida and those it inspires.

But as President Obama reminded us, ―...his death does not mark the end of our effort‖.

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Al Qa‘ida continues to receive ideological support from terrorist groups throughout the

world, including in South Asia, the Middle East, Afghanistan and parts of Africa. Al Qa‘ida‘s

ideology remains, and its ability to morph and change its leadership and character to

accommodate extremist sympathisers cannot be underestimated.

While terrorists have a relatively narrow global appeal, their brutality has lost them some

supporters. Furthermore, recent developments in the Middle East and North Africa have

demonstrated that people power - not violence - has produced political change,

democracy and reform. Many of us hope that these events will serve as a catalyst to bring

an end to extremism in the longer term, though it is obviously still too early to tell.

Australia has not been immune to the planning and activities of violent extremists. We

have been directly impacted by the most dramatic attacks of the past decade, including

9/11, the attacks in Bali, Jakarta, and in London.

Since 9/11, our law enforcement and national security agencies have worked tirelessly

together to detect and disrupt several threats to our national security. Since 2000, there

have been four major terrorist plots disrupted in Australia. To date, 38 individuals have

been prosecuted as a result of counter-terrorism operations and 23 have been convicted.

Significantly, 37 of the 38 people prosecuted are Australian citizens and 21 of the 38 were

born in Australia.

For this reason, the Government has focussed on the risk of vulnerable individuals in

Australia becoming radicalised to the point of being willing to use violence.

Countering Violent Extremism

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Immediately after 9/11 there was much focus on an armed response, tough terrorism

laws, and physical security measures, all of which have brought results through the

detection and deterrence of terrorist activity.

What was less appreciated, however, was that a comprehensive counter-terrorism

response needed to include broader strategies to lessen the appeal of extremist ideologies

that fuel terrorism in the first place. The need to not only be tough on terrorism, but

tough on the causes of terrorism. In essence, the old adage of prevention being better

than cure.

President Obama spoke to this in his landmark 2009 speech at Al-Azhar University in

Cairo, stating that, ―the first issue that we have to confront is violent extremism in all of its

forms‖, going on to say that:

―Violent extremists have exploited tensions in a small but potent minority of

Muslims. The attacks of September 11, 2001 and the continued efforts of these

extremists to engage in violence against civilians has led some in my country to view

Islam as inevitably hostile not only to America and Western countries, but also to

human rights. All this has bred more fear and more mistrust.‖

I was very interested in a recent speech by United States Deputy National Security

Advisor, Denis McDonough, where he candidly admitted that for a long time, the United

States thought that their unique ‗melting pot‘ culture meant they were immune to the

recruiters trying to radicalise US citizens.

The Australian Government, like our allies in the United States and the United Kingdom,

recognise that addressing the causes of radicalisation leading to violent extremism must

be a priority.

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As part of the 2010 Budget, the Government allocated $9.7 million to addressing these

issues. To lead this work, a dedicated unit has been established in the Attorney-General‘s

Department to provide national direction and coordinate activities across Governments.

Effective community engagement is a key component of the Government‘s approach.

As Daniel Benjamin, from the Office of the Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism, commented

in his testimony to the US Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non-proliferation and Trade in

April this year:

―To be effective, CVE work needs to be driven by local needs, informed by local

knowledge and responsive to the immediate concerns of the community.‖

Communities have an important role in identifying and diverting vulnerable individuals

before they come to the attention of security and law enforcement agencies.

To support communities in this role, the Government is meeting with community leaders

around the country from a range of religious, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to listen

and engage on these issues.

The inaugural ‗Youth Mentoring Grants‘ program has provided over $1 million for

programs that directly support young people away from intolerant and radical ideologies

and encourage positive participation in the community.

The Government is also working to address the role of the internet in radicalisation. We

are particularly concerned about the impact of the internet on individual or ‗stand-alone‘

extremists.

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To date, the focus has been on early prevention to resist the development of violent

extremism and terrorism on the home front. Our strategy involves working closely with

traditional law enforcement and intelligence agencies and leveraging off existing social

policy agency programs to contribute to CVE outcomes.

While our focus in this area is on the domestic front, we are also actively engaging

internationally, so that we can learn from the experiences of other countries and

contribute to the collective understanding of this complex issue.

Forward Agenda

The policy challenges for our nation in the areas of national security and counter-terrorism

are not static. We continually examine and review our legislation and practices to ensure

we adequately equip our security and intelligence agencies with the ability to meet

ongoing challenges and threats.

During 2011 the Parliament has amended national security legislation to ensure our

security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are better able to cooperate, assist

each other and share information. The amendments have been identified through a

targeted review and practical experience with the legislation relating to security and

intelligence agencies.

The amendments implemented the recommendations of four extensive inquiries and of

our national security laws and were introduced after a period of extensive public

consultation.

As a Government, we are firmly of the view that national security laws need to be

appropriately calibrated to provide oversight and access to judicial review.

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There is no question that respect for the rule of law is a tremendous asset in the fight

against the brutality of terrorism.

In addition, the Independent Review of Australia‘s Intelligence Community aims to ensure

that our intelligence agencies are working effectively together and are well positioned for

challenges in this constantly changing security environment.

Recent developments in communications technology, as well as increased competition and

globalisation of the telecommunications industry, have fundamentally changed the way we

do business and communicate with each other. The last ten years has also seen a

dramatic increase in the use of these modern technologies to commit criminal offences

and engage in activities which present a direct risk to national security.

Cybersecurity

Malicious cyber activity is increasingly attracting considerable interest within the

community.

Since 9/11, espionage and foreign interference, while less visible than terrorism, continue

to pose serious threats to our national security. Whilst the past decade has also seen the

advent of ‗cyber-espionage‘, the next 10 years will undoubtedly see a marked

intensification of this activity.

Recent prominent attacks such as ‗Ghostnet‘ which infected computers belonging to

Tibetan non-governmental organisations and the private office of the Dalai Lama, ‗Stuxnet‘

which worked by changing code in systems that control critical infrastructure and events in

Estonia where an entire nation state was virtually brought to a stand-still by a denial of

service attack give an insight into the extent and capabilities of some hacking efforts.

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These attacks and the threat to critical infrastructure such as banking, telecommunications

and government systems is not something we can be complacent about.

The Australian Government has made cyber security a top national security priority and is

investing to significantly enhance Australia‘s cyber security capabilities.

The Government has moved to establish the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC) in

the Defence Signals Directorate, the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) and a

dedicated Cyber Investigations Unit within the Australian Security Intelligence

Organisation (ASIO).

The CSOC provides the Government with the complete picture of the online security

landscape and the capability to respond to cyber incidents. CERT Australia works closely

with the CSOC to improve cyber security for all Australian internet users and businesses. It

places a special emphasis on assisting the owners and operators of systems of national

interest — that is, those that, if compromised, could result in significant impacts on

Australia‘s economic prosperity, international competitiveness, public safety, social

wellbeing or national defence and security. Finally, ASIO‘s Cyber Investigations Unit works

to guard against those using the internet as a modern espionage tool with the potential to

facilitate access to large volumes of sensitive government and commercial information.

The cyber threat, however, is not simply an issue for Government alone.

The global and interconnected nature of the internet means that the cyber threat extends

within and between nations, companies and individuals both here and overseas.

The very nature of the internet makes it easy for malicious actors to operate from abroad,

especially from those countries where regulations and enforcement arrangements are

weak. For this reason, it is critical that laws designed to combat cyber threats are

harmonised, or at least compatible to allow for international cooperation.

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In this respect, the Government is taking active steps to strengthen international

arrangements by moving to accede to the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime -

the only binding international treaty on this significant threat.

The Convention establishes procedures to make cyber investigations more efficient and

provides systems to facilitate international co-operation, including:

 empowering authorities to request the preservation of specific communications;

 helping authorities from one country to collect data in another country;

 establishing a 24/7 network to provide immediate help to investigators; and

 facilitating the exchange of information.

Accession to the Convention is a critical step as it facilitates international co-operation

between signatory countries and establishes procedures to make investigations more

efficient. As such, it will help Australian agencies to better prevent, detect and prosecute

cyber intrusions.

Maintaining and Expanding Capability

The first priority of the Australian Government is the protection of the safety and security

of its citizens and its interests. In this respect, having the resources and capability to

respond to a rapidly changing threat environment is critical.

In his book, ‗The Defence of the Realm: The Authorised History of MI5‘, Christopher

Andrew, noted that the ‗peace dividend‘ that followed the end of the Cold War led to

budget cuts within the Security Service.

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―Whitehall failed to grasp that, even though the threat of thermonuclear war was far

lower than it had been for forty years, the increased diversity of potential threats to

national security, especially from terrorism, pointed to a need for more, rather than

less, intelligence.‖

Lost capability in any area can take many years to re-establish and has direct implications

on our ability to meet national security threats. It is important therefore, that we do not

make the same mistake.

Since 9/11, resourcing and expenditure on national security has increased significantly in

response to this immediate challenge. Since 2001, expenditure on national security

(including defence) has increased from approximately $18 billion to over $33 billion in

2011-12.

In my portfolio alone, since coming to office, the Government has invested approximately

$12 billion on national security measures. Over the period 2008-09 to 2014-15, investment

in national security in the Attorney-General‘s Department is forecast to remain relatively

steady at historically high levels of around $2.9 billion per annum.

The Government remains committed to protecting Australia‘s national security and

ensuring that funding provided to agencies with national security responsibilities is both

appropriate and well utilised.

Conclusion

I am proud of the Government‘s national security achievements to date and of the

direction we have charted for the future.

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Australia remains particularly proud of our deep and long-standing friendship and alliance

with the United States of America.

In my own portfolio, and indeed across Government, the level of interaction between our

respective agencies is extensive and deepening across a number of fronts including

operational and analytical engagement as well as the development of broader cooperative

capabilities.

In concluding today, let me say that it is in the shared experiences and history of the

United States and Australia, in the shared sacrifices, the shared values, and the shared

commitment, that cause me to believe that together we can defeat the scourge of

terrorism.

I take great pride in today recommitting the Australian Government to this most important

endeavour and to our partnership with the United States of America.

Thank you.