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Chertoff Outlines Risk-Based Approach to Homeland Security

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff spoke on the future direction of the department at a policy forum held March 16 at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., saying, "We must calibrate an approach to security that incorporates prevention and protection into our lives in a way that respects our liberty and our privacy, and fosters our prosperity."

He went on to tell the audience, "A nation as vital and thriving as ours cannot become hermetically sealed. Even less can we afford to be overwhelmed by fear or paralyzed by the existence of threats."

That's why, said Chertoff, we need to adopt a risk-based approach in both our operations and our philosophy. "Risk management is fundamental to managing the threat, while retaining our quality of life and living in freedom," he said. "Risk management must guide our decision-making as we examine how we can best organize to prevent, respond and recover from an attack."

To that end, the Department of Homeland Security is working with state, local and private sector partners on a National Preparedness Plan to target resources where the risk is greatest.

One large element of the plan will be giving people options: If people want the shorter line at the airport or expedited processing at the borders, they can achieve it by agreeing to provide what Chertoff classified as "limited personal information."

"That trade-off will be their choice," he added.

Another element is trust. He said the government will earn public trust when it demonstrates that the information it collects and the measures it implements are tailored to the goals of preserving security and do not creep beyond that mission.

"Our ultimate goal is a time when security measures are a comfortable, convenient part of our routine; a time when people go about their daily lives mindful of risks but not encumbered by fear, unwavering in their resolve and full participants in their own protection," Chertoff noted.

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