CNN LIVE ON LOCATION
Interview with British Home Secretary David Blunkett
Aired April 3, 2003 - 15:38 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Well the United States and Great Britain have agreed to increase cooperation to prevent and to prepare for potential terrorist attacks, including the threat of simultaneous strikes against both countries. U.S. Homeland Secretary Security Secretary Tom Ridge made the announcement yesterday, alongside Britain's Home Secretary David Blunkett.
Secretary Blunkett joins me now from our New York studios. Secretary Blunkett, first of all, to what extent do you believe your citizens, as well as U.S. citizens, right now are at risk of a potential terror attack?
DAVID BLUNKETT, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: Judy, we think that since the 11th of September, 2001, we've faced a similar heightened threat level. And we've been enhancing both the exchange of intelligence and security information and the assessment of that information, because that's the crucial element. And now we're suggesting that we go forward with joint exercises, that we join together into a taskforce to make sure that the information we have is swiftly transferred, communicated between the two countries. And that we learn the lessons of what we're doing and what you're doing on homeland security.
WOODRUFF: Why do you think it is important to do this, to have this joint effort? Is it because there are risks -- I'm sorry, is it because there are threats that are directed to both countries?
BLUNKETT: We think there's potential for that. And we think that our citizens and yours would be very angry if they thought that we hadn't taken every possible step for prevention and then for joint action in the likelihood of those who threaten our lives and our well- being, taking action at the same time.
We've known all along that the cells that are placed across the world, those who fund those cells believe that we are the enemy. The United States and Great Britain are the prime enemy, and therefore they are quite likely to want to develop modes of attack and particular timings for attack coterminously in both countries.
WOODRUFF: We in the United States, as you know, use a color- coded security threat level alert system. What do you use in Great Britain to alert your citizens?
BLUNKETT: We have internally seven different layers of threat level. We announce the heightened threat level only when we believe that the public themselves are at risk, or when we have to take obvious action, as we did six weeks ago to ensure that there wasn't a threat to Heathrow Airport. In other words, we're pronouncing publicly at a moment when we believe either that we should engage the public in their own surveillance or at a moment when the threat level has heightened to a position where, either in heightened policing or in terms of using military hardware, as we did six weeks ago, it would be obvious to the public that we're taking action.
WOODRUFF: Are you expecting -- let me put it this way, is there a greater likelihood do you believe of some sort of terror attack because of this war that's under way, or the aftermath of the war?
BLUNKETT: Well, I think we've all been very vigilant to ensure that those who are likely to use this as an opportunity were kept under surveillance and that we had a heightened level of intelligence and security between our two countries and other friendly countries as well who have been working with us. I don't believe, and neither do my colleagues in the United States, that the conflict in Iraq has put us at greater risk.
In fact, we think that once we've obtained a free and democratic and prosperous Iraq, we can stabilize the region. We can move to finding a solution in the Middle East in relation to Israel and a sustainable and viable Palestine, and that that will lessen the threat and lessen the attractiveness of the terrorists to young men and women, in particular, who at the moment are obviously drawn in to this terrible syndrome of attack on the West, and in particular, the United States and Great Britain.
WOODRUFF: Home Secretary David Blunkett, home secretary in Great Britain, we thank you very much for talking with us today. He's visiting in the United States.
BLUNKETT: Thank you Judy.
WOODRUFF: We appreciate it. He's visiting after announcing greater cooperation with the United States homeland security effort. Thank you very much. Now back to Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Judy.
Still ahead, an update from the northern front. Coming up, the bombing and the reports of looting. Details straight ahead.
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