Terrorist Financing is Boring

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The New York Times gets wind of a soon-to-be-released GAO report on the Bush administration’s efforts to crack down on terrorist financing:

More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, “the U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy” to train foreign countries and provide them with technical assistance to shore up their financial and law enforcement systems against terrorist financing, according to the report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

That’s comforting. Most of the problems seem to stem from infighting among the State and Treasury departments, who can’t even agree on who’s in charge. But Douglas Farah suggests there’s a larger problem here:

While the report focuses on the U.S. efforts to train other countries in ways to combat terror finance, it confirms a larger problem within the administration, as described to me by people in government and those who served there for many years. There is simply little interest on following up on issues raised on terror finance, and almost no leadership provided by those who sit in the principals’ meeting in funding, attacking or seriously focusing on the issue. The CIA, according to one source, still has noone dedicated to tracing terror finance issues, never mind a special unit.

And the Bush administration isn’t the only one getting bored by the issue:

This lack of interest in the administration is dangerously coupled with a steep drop in the quality and quantity of the work of the UN committee tasked with following the finances of al Qaeda and the Taliban. The panel has been downgraded, the staff cut and the quality of the work is considerably diminished, as is the importance it is given within the UN Secretary General’s office.


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