60 minutes is interviewing the Secretary General of Interpol – an international police agency. Astoundingly, prior to September 11, 2001, the Interpol offices were not even open on the weekends. That has changed.
Their mission is to give international assistance to police agencies around the world. The staff is made up of police officers on loan from other agencies. Interpol was reinvented after September 11. They recognize that the world has changed, “When someone used to commit a crime in Chicago, they stayed in Chicago.” That is no longer the case.
Interpol has developed a sophisticated cyber-crime unit. They have become specialists in criminal forensics. The thing that strikes me is the inter agency cooperation that exists today that did not exist even ten years ago. They are talking about a big part of cyber crime being in the domain of sex, particularly of pedophiles. They are able to track down counterfeit drugs – like drugs to treat malaria and other epidemic dangers.
The command center is a clearing house for international crime. This is a central tool in fighting international terrorism. Interpol has the only centralized data base on stolen passports and other sources of international identification. The system has been operational for over two years – but the U.S. Homeland Security Department is just beginning to cooperate. There are no representatives of Homeland Security stationed at Interpol “They don’t get it.”
There is a perception out there among police agencies that the information might be compromised because of the very nature of being a clearing house. Not only is Interpol underutilized but it is underfunded. The U. S. provides only 5 million a year in monetary support. The 50 million dollar budget is less than many major city police departments.
Interpol is working to get the U. S. and other governments to understand the value and necessity of Interpol. On the surface this seems like a practical operation – but I suppose we are not privy to some of the sordid details. It just seems to me that we should be pursuing every avenue to stop and capture terrorists. It would only seem logical that this would be an international effort.