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Public Statements

Panel II of a Hearing of the House Committee on Financial Services - Identifying and Preventing Terrorist Financing

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service August 23, 2004 Monday

HEADLINE: PANEL II OF A HEARING OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON FINANCIAL SERVICES

SUBJECT: IDENTIFYING AND PREVENTING TERRORIST FINANCING

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL OXLEY (R-OH))

WITNESSES: STUART LEVEY, UNDERSECRETARY FOR OFFICE OF TERRORISM AND FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE, DEPARTMENT OF TREASURY; FRANK LIBUTTI, UNDERSECRETARY FOR INFORMATION ANALYSIS AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROTECTION, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY; BARRY SABIN, CHIEF OF COUNTERTERRORISM SECTION, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

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REP. RON PAUL (R-TX)(?) : Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Earlier I spoke about the Fourth Amendment and privacy issues, but I'm afraid that's a moot point these days. And I won't bring that up and I won't ask you about that, because it seems like we've sort of conceded it that privacy for the average American citizen is no longer of much concern.

But I am concerned about the practicality. It sounds like, you know, the more laws we have on the books, the more criminals you're going to catch, and it's been just working great. And I'm not convinced of that. I've taken some advice from a John Yoder, who was the director of the asset forfeiture office under Reagan, and he was describing the atmosphere before 9/11.

Of course, this is what brings this all about, the 9/11 report. And in reference to that, he says, "We already have so much information that we weren't really focusing on the right stuff. What good does it do to gather more paperwork when you're already so awash in paperwork that you're not paying attention to your own currently- existing intelligence-gathering system?"

And I think that's unfortunately what we're facing.

The terrorists used $500,000, and I don't believe anybody proved that they broke our financial laws. So all this activity is directed at law-abiding American citizens, and hopefully we pick up a criminal here and there.

On a daily basis, the U.S. financial system transfers $1.7 trillion. So we're looking for a needle in the haystack, and yet all we do is we add more and more bureaucracy, more cost. It's costing $12 billion a year for our banks and our companies to fill out these reports. And it just seems that we give up our liberties too casually and that even with the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970, we were filling out 12 million currency transaction reports every year and it didn't help us. And so all we're going to do is we're going to ask for a lot more of these reports to be sent in.

And also, you've mentioned that "Oh, yes, but we're having success. We're finding criminals. We're doing this." But one thing that we never address and that we always assume is that those individuals may well have been caught by following the rules, following the laws, following the Fourth Amendment, and getting an honest-to-goodness legitimate search warrant. You're assuming that none of these people could possibly be caught unless we throw the Fourth Amendment out. And that I think is-it doesn't necessarily follow. My question for the three of you is-has to do with the national ID card, because in the post-9/11 atmosphere the ease with which the Patriot Act was passed, legislation which had been proposed for years just got stuck in and sailed right through. This post-9/11 atmosphere now has set the stage for the national ID card. So there are a lot of people concerned about it. But once again since security or the pretense of gaining security is far superior to the burning desire for liberty. I think the national ID card is on the agenda, and I think the report certainly has indicated that. So I'd like to know what you think about the national ID card and how would-how necessary is the national ID card for you to pursue your responsibilities.

MR. SABIN: (?) Well, I'll start. With respect to the Fourth Amendment, both in word and in deed, we are respectful and sensitive to using it appropriately, making sure that we execute Rule 41, criminal search warrants, going to a United States district court judge, and making sure that we have probable cause in order to obtain limited amounts of material that are appropriate in order to pursue that particular investigation. Whether that is through a search warrant or through electronic interceptions, we make sure that we satisfy the appropriate legal standard and don't abuse that authority, or circumvent in any way, shape or form the strictures in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

In terms of information overload, your point about the volume of information that is provided to the federal government, it is a lot, and we need to make sure that we establish both in terms of short-term and long-term mechanisms, as was discussed this morning, the ability to exploit and use that information appropriately, by getting the experts both within the government and outside the government to educate us about how to use that information, and how to make it most meaningful to us in an action format, whether that is providing guidance to intelligence or law enforcement folks to make sure that it's not just paperwork stacking up, but it's materials that can be used, and used effectively and timely.

In terms of the thorny privacy issues and the national identification card, I don't believe the Justice Department has a specific position. I'd stay in lane as opposed to reaching out and advocating one position or another. I can tell you that we are seeking to understand who the individuals are and using our tools that Congress has provided us to understand the movement of monies, the movement of individuals, the travel that occurs, and understand where they have traversed either in terms of the persons or their materials.

REP. OXLEY: The gentleman's time has expired. The gentleman from California, Mr. Sherman.

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