The European Parliament has agreed to a new deal giving U.S. agencies access to bank data about Europeans' international transactions in order to combat terrorism. An earlier version of the accord between the U.S. and the European Commission had been blocked by the Parliament exercising its new authority under the Lisbon treaty. So the resolution now reaffirms a broader institutional accord on transatlantic cooperation to fight terrorist networking.
For at least a decade, “cyberspace” – with its potential for exposing digital networks to eavesdropping and crippling attack – has been highlighted by strategists as a new “fifth dimension” of warfare. The most vulnerable global power in this regard is the United States and its European allies, analysts say, because these nations rely so heavy on electronic networks for their military operations as well as their civilian infrastructure from communications and road traffic to banking and hospitals. All of these can potentially be taken down by massive attacks by hackers, especially those with backing from a government.
A curious notion has emerged about how the United States has tried to navigate the seas of global security since the September 11 terrorist attacks. It depicts Washington as charting a solitary course characterized by premises, principles, and policies which diverge dramatically from those of other nations – notably its European allies.
Transatlantic cooperation in combating terrorism sometimes raises doctrinal quarrels about what intellectual framework is appropriate in policy-making and what agencies should have the lead role in implementing preventive actions and, if necessary, coordinating the response to a catastrophe. In practice, great strides have been made toward common practices on both sides of the Atlantic in areas of police work ranging from information-sharing on travelers and joint customs work to less public areas such as intelligence-sharing. Some new suggestions are circulating about possible ways to tap into NATO’s resources and capabilities to improve measures of homeland defense in the United States and in Europe. A specific proposition has been floated from an expert group at two research centers at the National Defense University in Washington, which trains military and civilian leaders from the United States and other countries. No official proposal of this sort is on the table, much less on NATO’s agenda. But the authors' idea of harnessing NATO’s capabilities to more tasks consolidating homeland defense has received some attention in official Washington. Meanwhile, ideas about consolidating homeland security in allied nations are being widely discussed in national capitals.
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