September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement of Paul H O'Neill Secretary of the Treasury Before the House Committee on Financial Services; October 3, 2001

Department of the Treasury

October 3, 2001

Statement of Paul H O'Neill
Secretary of the Treasury
Before the House Committee on Financial Services

Thank you chairman Oxley, Congressman LaFalce and members of the Committee.

Money can be as lethal as a bullet. If we are to deter and prevent future calamities, and if we are to root out terrorist cells that threaten to do violence to our people and our communities, we have to enlist the active help of financial institutions to hunt down the financial benefactors who underwrite murder and mayhem.

We have already made an excellent start with the President's Executive Order and the adoption of a United Nations Security Council resolution. This U.N. Resolution represents a confirmation by the global community that an aggressive hunt for terrorist funds is underway and merits the cooperation of all countries.

The importance of this global campaign cannot be overstated. Building an action-taking coalition for the financial campaign against terrorism is as important as a military campaign.

We have set a deliberate course to prosecute that campaign. First, we are engaged in an effort to identify the potential financial intermediaries of suspected terrorists and their associates. The interagency task force we chair includes the CIA, Departments of State and Justice, the FBI, and the NSC. Second, we are acting on that intelligence with the issuance of domestic blocking orders that freeze accounts and bar all trade with terrorist associates. Third, we are engaged with the FBI in the investigation of the financing of the September 11th attacks and are making significant contributions in ferreting out those who financed those horrendous attacks. Fourth, we are engaged in an outreach to secure the endorsement of our blocking orders by allies in the G7, the EU and throughout the world. Fifth, we have begun to link disparate databases and to analyze the patterns of terrorist financing.

Here at home, you can help arm us with additional legislative tools to enhance Treasury's capability to track, block and seize those assets; to secure our borders; and to freely share information about terrorist activity between law enforcement and U.S. intelligence services.

Our intent is straightforward -- to remove structural limitations that handicap government efforts to eliminate the violence of terrorism.

To date, the President's program has produced meaningful results. As this Committee is aware, we have taken action domestically and, just as importantly, scores of countries have followed suit with bank freezes and pledges to take measures to heighten scrutiny of suspicious transactions.

In our effort, we are partnering with the private U.S. banking industry, which has helped us to interpret and analyze financial data. Finally, international financial regulators have made clear their willingness and commitment to provide us with whatever assistance we may need to track down the assets of international terrorists.

Other countries have been asked to provide assistance under treaties that provide Treasury and the Justice Department with evidence in the current probe and to share leads for the pursuit of new names. In addition, numerous international banks have made plain that they will assist us in any manner lawfully permitted under their respective domestic laws.

Additionally, we have formed the Foreign Terrorist Asset Tracking Center to help identify patterns and terrorist financing practices discoverable only through inter-agency coordination and analysis. The Center joins for the first time disparate databases from law enforcement, the intelligence community, banking regulators and open access data libraries. The data are then linked to build a mosaic of terrorist financing activity. This operation allows us to take a different tack by sustaining a targeted effort at terrorist financing. This approach is not limited to the episodic, targeted and staccato-like pace of a case-specific criminal probe. Instead, we are using intelligence and law enforcement resources to find patterns that will allow us to address the global problem of terrorist financing.

Now, that is admittedly ambitious, but it is at the core of our declared end. This hunt is not about money. It is about money that kills. Our approach is proactive and preventative. Our goal is to drain the financial lifeblood that allows terrorist to finance and accomplish their deadly goals, and in doing do we aim to shackle their ability to strike again.

The Treasury Department is committed to this purpose. It is for that reason that we believe the provisions of the Administration's Anti-Terrorism bill are essential. In particular, the IEEPA amendment that would protect classified data from disclosure would remove barriers to the successful prosecution of our cause. While I understand these provisions are not currently a part of the House Anti-Terrorism package, we are hopeful that they will ultimately be included. In addition, I look forward to working with this Committee on some issues not addressed in the anti-terrorism package, in particular, additional provisions to ensure more effective sharing of information between law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Government should not be handcuffed in this endeavor. More can usefully be done, and Under Secretary Gurulé is prepared to outline potential additional measures.

But my pledge to you is simple. The Treasury Department will use every tool we have at our disposal to shut down terrorist fundraising and dismantle their organizations one dollar at a time. Their moral bankruptcy will be matched by an empty wallet.

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