The War on Terrorism
The events of 9/11 have made combating international terrorism the key USG priority. The Department is therefore making a major effort to conform to the new needs of the war on terrorism. Following the strong emphasis of the President and the Secretary, a large number of bureaus, from the Bureau of Counterterrorism to Diplomatic Security to Consular Affairs (CA), the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs (EB), and the regional bureaus, are reorienting their priorities to fit new realities. In Afghanistan, the Bureau of South Asian Affairs has worked with EB, the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs and the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor to help build a new, democratic government committed to opposing terrorism. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, the Bureau of Arms Control and the Bureau of Nonproliferation have worked with the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to focus attention on controlling nuclear material.
On a broader scale, the Department also has cooperated with other agencies to combat terrorism. Coordinating with the Department of Justice and the FBI, CA has worked to strengthen its visa screening to prevent terrorists from entering the United States. The Department also has combined its efforts with those of the military to establish key bases and build essential alliances. The Department will continue to make the necessary internal adjustments required to fight terrorism effectively.
The Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and related bureaus are working to augment the international standing of the United States and its polices. In the wake of the events of 9/11, the need for a unified and positive American message has never been as critical as it is today.
The Department is therefore expanding the scope of public diplomacy by identifying audiences, preparing more appropriate programs, and maximizing resources among the Department's domestic bureaus and overseas posts. The Department is working closely with the White House Office of Global Communications and other agencies to promote American values and interests worldwide. To this end, the Department is engaging a broader and younger audience worldwide to augment America's messages to foreign audiences. In addition, the Department is utilizing more channels of communication to expand the impact of activities and audience reach. The Department's public diplomacy efforts work in conjunction with those of other USG agencies to communicate American beliefs, values, and goals.
The Department is on the frontlines of working to protect homeland security. Since the events of 9/11, the Department has taken steps to coordinate with overall U.S. border security efforts more effectively. Department consular officers at more than 200 overseas posts adjudicate the majority of visa applications of those who seek entry into the United States. Among these applicants are those who wish to harm the United States, as shown by the events of 9/11. The Department strengthened its visa screening system, by vastly increasing the size of its name check database, conducting more visa interviews, and instituting interagency clearances for additional categories of applicants from specific countries. The Department has provided U.S. ports of entry with real-time access to visa issuance data and has worked closely with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, the intelligence community, the FBI, and other USG agencies on other border-security issues.
The Department also works with domestic and international law enforcement organizations to minimize the negative impact of drugs and crime on American citizens. The Bureaus of Consular Affairs and Diplomatic Security play a critical role in homeland security efforts to control visa and passport fraud. The Department is intent upon ensuring that its visa system is strong and secure, while allowing and encouraging qualified applicants to come to the United States.