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Interpol Director weeps at lack of terror war funding
David Edwards and Jason Rhyne
Published: Sunday October 7, 2007

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Ron Noble, the head of the international police coordinating organization known as Interpol, appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes for an emotional discussion about how he believes his agency is being underfunded and underutilized in US efforts to combat terror.

Noble, the first American to run Interpol, says that even though his organization has unique resources valuable to counter-terrorism initiatives -- including the world's largest database of known terrorists -- they are being largely ignored by the US government. Interpol also maintains the only database of stolen passports.

"Every significant international terrorist attack that's occurred has been linked in some way with either a fraudulent passport...or with a counterfeit passport," Nobel said. "So by catching the people with stolen passports, you get yourself closer to catching terrorist."

Acknowledging that many US officials consider Interpol irrelevant, Noble said he is working to help the agency shake its lazy reputation.

"Al Qaeda has said they want to kill four million of us," he said. " So I'm asking myself, what do we need? What does it take, what will it take for government to say forget the past. If Interpol didn't exist today, we'd invent it."

The US contributes only five and a half million dollars a year to Interpol, compared to billions for agencies like the Department of Homeland Security.

"I just feel like they don't get it. They don't get it," said a frustrated Noble, who said that his agency's $50 million total budget is approximately the "same amount the Los Angeles Galaxy is paying for David Beckham to play football."

"I get up every day, you know, and I think about how can I make the US understand this," a clearly emotional Noble continued. "And I just can't. I can't, I can't. "

Later in the interview, with tears in his eyes, the Interpol chief warned of the consequences of marginalizing his organization.

"We know that terrorist activities are being planned, And we know that if we don't respond, people will die," he said. "And I know I'm a smart guy. I know I work hard and I know I can persuade people to do things. I know. But I can't get the U.S. and other governments to understand that the problem's a billion-dollar-a-year problem. You know, not a million-dollar-a-year problem. But I know that it's going to change. It's going to happen one day."

"My neck is out there with this interview," Noble concluded. "And after this interview I'll go back to working like I do every other day, but I'll know that there's nothing that I held back."

60 Minutes reports that Noble recently received a letter from the Department of Homeland Security saying the agency was considering assigning "one of its people to Interpol by the end of the year."

The following video is from CBS's 60 Minutes, broadcast on October 7, 2007: