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Financial Front in the War on Terrorism

April 23, 2002

"Crackdown on Terror Funding Is Questioned" (April 7) contained several mischaracterizations about the administration's efforts to disrupt terrorist financing worldwide. It cites unidentified sources as saying that "the Justice Department has expressed concerns to senior Treasury officials about the strength of the asset-freezing cases" and that other unnamed sources claim "the Treasury Department's rush to action last fall may have been 'politically driven' and premature."

These comments are misleading, given the fact that no agency can unilaterally designate an individual or organization as a terrorist financier without the unanimous approval of every participant in the interagency task force made up of the departments of the Treasury, State, Justice, the FBI and the CIA. Treasury and Justice Department lawyers assess the sufficiency of the evidence before we move forward on any name.

The article claims that the two U.S. Customs Service agents (part of the Treasury Department) who were detailed to the FBI's Financial Review Group "left and never came back." This is untrue--one agent was recently promoted and another is working off-site as per his duties within the Financial Review Group.

Finally, it is illegal for Treasury agents to turn documents over to the FBI until the FBI obtains either consent or a search warrant. It is crucial that all our efforts remain well within the law to protect the privacy of individual citizens and the integrity of investigations.

The Treasury and Justice departments have worked closely together with the State Department, the CIA and others to track and block terrorist funding. As a result of our cooperative and collaborative effort, Treasury has blocked the accounts of 191 terrorist financiers, we have frozen nearly $104 million in terrorist assets worldwide, and 155 countries have followed our lead and issued complementary blocking orders within their own borders. The financial front in the war on terrorism, while quite different from the military or humanitarian fronts, has continued to enjoy successes.

Kenneth Dam

Deputy Secretary

U.S. Treasury Department


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