20th Anniversary Briefing of the OSAC - Rice
20th Anniversary Briefing of the Secretary's Overseas Security Advisory Council
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Dean Acheson Auditorium
November 9, 2005
(11:15 a.m. EST)
Well, thank you, Griff, for that kind introduction and I'd also like to thank the co-chairmen of OSAC, Joe Petro and Joe Morton, as well as the OSAC Council and the Executive Working Group for helping to lead this great organization as it celebrates its 20th anniversary.
I am delighted that all of you are here to help celebrate and to share best practices. This is an extraordinary organization and thank you, each and every one of you, for your support of it.
One of the most difficult challenges for all leaders, both in and out of government, is to identify long-term trends, those threats or opportunities that may lack definition at present, but will gather momentum over time and then fundamentally reshape our world.
In 1985, my good friend and my mentor, Secretary of State George Shultz, recognized the growing threat that international terrorism posed to our government and to Americans living and working abroad. Secretary Shultz thought that our nation needed a dynamic forum for sharing ideas and information on security among our public and private sectors, so he created the Overseas Security Advisory Council, or, as we know it, OSAC, which was initially composed of only 15 American companies and the Departments of State and Commerce.
Today, after 20 years in business, the OSAC partnership encompasses 12 federal agencies and nearly 3,100 private groups, from the business and academic communities to nongovernmental and faith-based organizations.
With 106 Country Councils attached to U.S. embassies and consulates in over 90 nations, OSAC is the very ideal of a successful public-private partnership and it is helping to keep Americans safe all across the globe.
Still, the threat of terrorism in today's world is far worse than anyone could have imagined in 1985. Back then, no one really thought that 19 fanatics, armed only with box cutters and boarding passes, would one day be able to attack our country with the destructive power of an enemy state. These terrorists have now attacked our citizens and our allies on nearly every continent. They, unfortunately, only have to be right once. We have to be right all of the time.
In the past four years, our global partnership for security has taken the shape of fighting a global war on terrorism, and all around the world OSAC is doing its part. At the Olympic Games in Athens, for example, OSAC provided a nonstop stream of real-time threat assessments that helped protect our athletes and our citizens. And after the London terrorist bombings this summer, it took OSAC a mere four hours to distribute essential security information across its vast global network.
These and other OSAC successes are essential to our security, but ultimately our actions on the field of battle are not sufficient by themselves to defeat the ideology of hatred that feeds terrorism. We must also work to replace hatred with hope, despair with dignity, and oppression with opportunity.
As President Bush has said, "We fight the war on terror with our power, but we will win the war on terror with freedom and justice and hope."
America is working toward victory under the tents of nongovernmental organizations in Pakistan, where members of both our public and private sectors are partnering to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless and ease human suffering. We are working toward victory in diverse houses of worship all around the world, where Americans of different faiths are reaching out to their fellow believers and sharing a message of peace and tolerance.
And we are working toward victory wherever American students engage their peers while studying abroad and wherever and whenever American businesses overseas give back to local communities that enable them to thrive.
Ladies and gentlemen, every day these men and women are safe to do their good work, America moves one step closer to the peace we desire and the security we deserve. This progress, this progress towards safety, would not be possible without the dedication and hard work of all of you in OSAC.
So, after 20 years, OSAC is stronger than ever, it is bigger than ever, and your mission is more important and more central than ever. So, on behalf of all the men and women of the State Department -- in fact, on behalf of all Americans -- I want to thank you for your commitment to our global security and to our diplomatic mission and to our essential work abroad.
Thank you very much and I hope you enjoy the rest of today's celebration. (Applause.) 2005/1063
Released on November 9, 2005