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Richard Clarke: How Gullible Does Bush Take Americans to Be?

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Posted on Jun 30, 2006
Times Bashing
Dwayne Powell

The president’s former counter-terrorism chief says the White House wants “the public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny.”

Richard A. Clarke and Roger W. Cressey in the N.Y. Times:

... The International Economic Emergency Powers Act, passed in 1977, provides the president with enormous authority over financial transactions by America’s enemies. International initiatives against money laundering have been under way for a decade, and have been aimed not only at terrorists but also at drug cartels, corrupt foreign officials and a host of criminal organizations.

These initiatives, combined with treaties and international agreements, should leave no one with any presumption of privacy when moving money electronically between countries. Indeed, since 2001, banks have been obliged to report even transactions entirely within the United States if there is reason to believe illegal activity is involved. Thus we find the privacy and illegality arguments wildly overblown.

So, too, however, are the Bush administration’s protests that the press revelations about the financial monitoring program may tip off the terrorists. Administration officials made the same kinds of complaints about news media accounts of electronic surveillance. They want the public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny. How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?

Terrorists have for many years employed nontraditional communications and money transfers ? including the ancient Middle Eastern hawala system, involving couriers and a loosely linked network of money brokers ? precisely because they assume that international calls, e-mail and banking are monitored not only by the United States but by Britain, France, Israel, Russia and even many third-world countries.


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By Terry Anderson, July 3, 2006 at 10:46 pm Link to this comment
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Mr. Lenner writes “I am so tired of the Republicans’ posturing and their desire for control of the press.” Seems to me this is about the only thing they don’t control…which I’m sure pisses them off something fierce and is obviously a big threat to our system of leftover democracy. Pretty sad that Americans have to read foreign news to get the truth because their own free press is stifled and gagged by a paranoid dictatorial government.

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By William, July 2, 2006 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

R.A. Earl 12801

Excellent point.  Your observation exemplifies the difficulty faced by our citizens to learn what is acutally going on in the world.  To get to the truth.  Fox is, in my opinion, the primary tool of the Bush administration using “perception management” to brainwash the viewers and to deepen the divisions the “uniter” and his sociopathic henchman Rove have plagued us with.  He is also using as you discribed “religion” to push his agenda.  Look at Falwell, Robertson, Dobson and of course “I am against gambling” Ralph Reed. These people work in close coordination with the White House, specifically Rove to brainwash their membership and to tell them how to vote.
Sort of reminds one of what transpired in the 30’s and 40’s in Germany.  Hmmmmmm!

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By R. A. Earl, July 1, 2006 at 5:50 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

To William in #12779…

You posted, in part “Yes, the American public is gullible.  Many crossing the threshold to stupidy.”

Ostensibly this is because they watch FOX news.

I submit that when people are being FED propaganda being passed off as truth, what else are they supposed to believe. It’s been going on for millennia… look at religions!

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By William, July 1, 2006 at 8:43 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Most of the people in the U.S. are not only gullible, I believe in a lot of cases people are pushovers’.  Take as the rule viewers of Fox News (again, News Ha!!!). Not too many months ago, polls of individuals that watch Fox evinced something like 70% of Fox viewers still believe Saddam was responsible for the twin towers.  That may not be exactly the % but I recall it being well over 50%.  Also, where around 57% of viewers from all other major news sources think Bush is doing a poor job in Iraq. Fox viewers that disaproved of Bush’s handling of the war was…... this is what it revealed…2%.  I shit you not. 
Anyone who reads this comment please google “Perception Management”.  This is synomynous with “Brain Washing.” This is synomynous with “Rove”. Yes, the American public is gullible.  Many crossing the threshold to stupidy.

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By Bill Lenner, June 30, 2006 at 10:24 pm Link to this comment
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Good research, Jim.

And felicity, there actually was a new information.  In fact, the LA Times and Wall Street Journal tried to get the same report out before the Times did.  Didn’t you know that there were 3 similar reports published the same day?

But the Bush administration is just fronting about this ‘leak’.  In fact, we were told immediately after 9/11 that they would be watching banking transactions closely (as I noted on my blog in a post I put up yesterday morning).

And as Clarke wrote as excerpted above the terrorists knew all about bank transactions being checked even before the attack on NYC and DC.

This brouhaha about the Times report sure shows the anti democratic nature of the Bush administration.

They tell us about banking surveillance, but when a newspaper tells us about it, then they go on full scale attack of that paper (and by extension the freedom of the press).

I am so tired of the Republicans’ posturing and their desire for control of the press.

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By Jim, June 30, 2006 at 8:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This has nothing to do with national security and everything to do with “rallying the base”—to be expected from an outfit that knows everything about campaigning but nothing about governing.

To back up what Mr. Clarke’s saying, here’s what a cursory Google search revealed:

•  Activities of the TTF Project (Targeting Terrorist Finances; Brown University)
October 2004:  The TTF Project has released a bibliography of sources on terrorist financing. The bibliography lists scholarly, government, IGO and NGO documents, providing hyperlinks to primary sources where they are available on the internet. The bibliography will be updated regularly and aspires to be comprehensive. Readers are invited to submit comments and suggestions for addition, by sending an email here.

•  Through the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Treasury “gathers, analyzes, and produces financial intelligence about these threats and wields its economic authorities and influence to undermine these threats at home and abroad.”

•  Among proposed measures are more police powers to track suspicious bank accounts even without evidence of a terrorist link - as already happens in Northern Ireland.  (From the BBC on UK programs)

•  The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) “helps to safeguard the United States’ financial system from the abuses of financial crime, including terrorist financing, money laundering, and other illicit activity,” according to OMB.
      Its primary tool is the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires financial institutions to report on transactions that may indicate financial crimes.  FinCEN also supports law enforcement, intelligence, and regulatory agencies through sharing and analysis of financial intelligence, and building global cooperation with financial intelligence units in other countries, says OMB.

•  Equipped with federal search warrants and OFAC blocking orders, the agents finalized plans to raid several U.S. businesses tied to a global money transfer network known as “Al Barakaat.” This network, headquartered in Dubai and operating in 40 nations around the globe, was reportedly skimming millions of dollars off legitimate transfers by Somali emigres worldwide and providing the funds to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization and other terrorist groups.
    Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill had just added Al Barakaat and its affiliated companies to OFAC’s   list of “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” (see OFAC’s Web site for more information).  (“U.S.    Customs Today,” 11/01)

•  Making the UK a hostile environment for terrorists
    The Police and security services work closely with financial industries, banks and the private sector   to ensure that it is as difficult as possible for terrorists to use the financial infrastructure to their advantage. We work jointly to track, freeze and disrupt terrorist finances, and we use intelligence gained from these investigations to gain more understanding of terrorist operations and methods.
(UK Home Office website)

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By felicity smith, June 30, 2006 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Finally all this hoopla has been exposed for what it really is - a sound and fury signifying nothing. One has to give credit to the Times, however, for bambooziling the media, the public, the Republicans into believing that what is actually old news is a scoop, an eye-opener, a revelation. You can be sure the Time’s article showed up the day after it was printed on every major, and minor, daily in America. Lots of free ink for at least a few days. The Times should change its “all the news that’s fit to print” to there’s a sucker born every minute.

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