Summary: On rare occasions speeches by public officials deserve attention. This is one, describing the growing danger of international criminal organizations. For more on the geopolitical implications of this, see John Robb’s Global Guerillas website, or read his book Brave New War. Hat tip on this to Simon Hunt Strategic Services.
“Combating the Growing Threat of International Organized Crime“, speech by United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey, given at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Excerpt:
Perhaps we are victims of our own success because it seems that there is a widespread belief around the country that organized crime is no longer a serious threat. Most Americans think of organized crime only as a part of America’s past, its modern role merely the subject of popular movies or television dramas. I can assure you that organized crime is different in source and different in scope, but unfortunately this phenomenon, in a different institutional costume, is alive and well.
That is why, earlier this year, the Organized Crime Council met for the first time in 15 years. It did so because the United States faces a new and more modern threat, from international organized crime. We can’t ignore criminal syndicates in other countries on the naïve assumption that they are a danger only in their homeland, whether it is located in Eurasia, Africa, or anywhere else.
International organized crime poses a greater challenge to law enforcement than did the traditional mafia in many respects. And the geographical source of the threat is not the only difference. The degree of sophistication is also markedly different, markedly higher. Some of the most significant international organized criminals are also infiltrating our own strategic industries and those of our allies, are providing logistical support to terrorist organizations and foreign intelligence agencies, and are capable of creating havoc in our economic infrastructure. These international criminals pose real natural security threats to this country.
Here I would like to pause long enough to make explicit an important distinction between this national security threat and others that I and other people involved in law enforcement, intelligence gathering, and national defense have spoken of frequently. International organized criminals are not motivated by ideology; they are motivated by the same thing that has motivated traditional organized criminals over history: money.
International organized crime is a hybrid criminal problem that implicates three of the department’s national priorities: national security, violent crime, and public corruption.
… In the past, we understood the basics of international organized crime and some of the ways it threatens the United States, but we lacked an overall perspective on how the pieces fit together. Therefore, the department and other federal agencies recently conducted a comprehensive review and assessment of international organized crime.
- First, we learned that organized crime, in addition to being as varied and as dangerous as ever, has a remarkable ability to adapt to changing conditions. As a result, the challenge we face with the new breed of organized criminals is quite different from the one we faced a generation or two ago. They are more sophisticated; they are richer; they have greater influence over government and political institutions worldwide; and they are savvier about using the latest technology first to perpetrate and then to cover up their crimes. …
- A second threat we identified was the logistical and other support that organized crime provides to terrorists, foreign intelligence services, and foreign governments that may be targeting the United States or otherwise acting against our interests. …
- Another set of recent cases highlights yet a third threat – from international organized criminals who smuggle and traffic people and contraband into the country. …
- Another threat involves the ways organized crime exploits the U.S. and international financial systems to move illegal funds. …
- Yet another threat is the way international organized criminals use cyberspace to target U.S. victims and infrastructure. …
- Other threats identified in our assessment include manipulation of securities markets, corrupting public officials globally, using violence as a basis for power.
… So what are we doing about it?
The remainder of the speech answers that question. The transcript is worth reading.
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