Role of US Treasury Intelligence
Under the U.S. Department of Treasury, the Office of Terrorism and Intelligence has been created mainly for the purpose of aiding in the fight of the nation against terrorism. Notably, in carrying out terrorist activities, financial resources are an indispensable factor. Aside from maintaining a workforce or training terrorists, they also need funds for supplies and equipments to fulfill their devilish plans. Furthermore, terrorist groups also need to secure the basic needs of their members. Hence, on the part of the government, the need to paralyze financial support is a good advantage over terrorist groups, and it can largely contribute to curtailing terrorism.
In combating terrorism and extremism in the financial aspect, the U.S. Treasury Intelligence is tasked to safeguard the financial system from illicit use and to “combat rogue nations, terrorist facilitators, weapons of mass destruction proliferators, money laundering, drug kingpins, and other national security threats” (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2009, n.p.). In the War on Terror, the Treasury Department is responsible for making sure that the financial sources of the terrorist groups are frozen and stopped. It is also important to note that terrorist organizations build up affiliates and partners with business owners to increase their source of financial force. Terrorist organizations also engage in illegal activities like drug trafficking, money laundering, and weapon smuggling. In all these kinds of activities, transactions through banks and other financial institutions are necessary. Thus, to destroy terrorist organizations, the government needs to track and disable these transactions (U.S. Department of the Treasury, 2009).
Additionally, the Department is also responsible for analyzing and tracking transactions which may pose a threat to the nation’s financial system. The department is and authorized to follow the flow of money to identify the financiers and operators and eventually freeze it to deter its further illicit use.
However, in carrying out its duties and responsibilities, the Department faces several inherent limitations with regard to the counter-terror and anti-terrorism policies. One of these limitations is that it cannot interfere or access transactions involving legal business. Notably, terrorist groups engage in legitimate businesses to cover their illicit activities and to hide from government hunting (Pillar, 2004). In addition, the Department finds difficulty in trailing money because funds are also commingled with charity funds and terrorists use “multiple channels for storing and moving funds” (Pillar, 2004, p. 95). These complexities limit the capacity and authority of the Department to accomplish its duties and responsibilities for curtailing terrorism.
Furthermore, most of terrorist transactions are done outside the US territory and control (Pillar, 2004). Financial operations done in foreign lands cannot be intercepted and traced by the department. Aside from that, many foreign banking systems uses the physical movement currency that limits the department’s capacity to trace money used in terrorist activities. There are also banks that prioritize the confidentiality of their client’s financial transactions and information, and disclosing such information may cause the bank to lose its credibility and betray the client’s trust. In addition, the Department cannot access one’s account without reasonable cause to believe that it is used for terrorist activities. Hence, the right to privacy is limiting the capability of the Department to fight terrorism (Pillar, 2004).
To sum up, the Department is crucial in the fight against terrorism because it freezes and prevents the financial support of terrorist organizations. It also protects the nation’s financial system from being accessed by terrorists and from being used in illegal activities. However, the Department has to fulfill its duties within its inherent limitations. Some of these limitations include its incapacity to intercept transactions done outside the country and those that involve legal businesses or funds.
Pillar, P. R. (2004). Terrorism and U. S. foreign policy. Washington, D.C.: Brookings
United States Department of the Treasury. (2009). Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Retrieved July 2, 2009, from http://www.treas.gov/offices/enforcement/.