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Organized Crime and Transnational Threats

Introductory Speaker: James M. Lindsay, Senior Vice President, Director of Studies, and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair
Speakers: David Holiday, Program Officer, Latin America Program, Open Society Institute
William F. Wechsler, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global Threats, U.S. Department of Defense
Lee S. Wolosky, Partner, Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP; Former Director, Transnational Threats, National Security Council
Presider: Stanley S. Arkin, Chairman, The Arkin Group, LLC
November 18, 2009

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The speakers identify the circumstances under which organized criminal activities constitute a threat to national security. Lee Wolosky, former director for transnational threats at the National Security Council, argues that such activities rise beyond a law enforcement problem and require broader components of the U.S. government to have a role in resolving it.

Wolosky and William Wechsler, deputy assistant secretary of defense for counternarcotics and global threats at the U.S. Department of Defense, say that there exists a "nexus" between various illicit organizations and that these organizations have a unique ability to find each other. They argue that similar connections also develop between organized crime and terrorism. Specifically addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation in the context of organized crime, Wolosky cites the A.Q. Khan network as an example of an international criminal network with nuclear proliferation aspirations.

This session was part of the CFR symposium, Organized Crime in the Western Hemisphere: An Overlooked Threat?, undertaken in collaboration with the Latin American Program and Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and made possible by the generous support of the Hauser Foundation, Tinker Foundation, and a grant from the Robina Foundation for CFR's International Institutions and Global Governance program.


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