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WilliamPitt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jun-24-06 07:56 AM
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Dick Cheney is 100% right...
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Edited on Sat Jun-24-06 07:58 AM by WilliamPitt
...sort of...and oh dear God, the distance between where he's right and where we're all screwed is the difference between the devil and the deep blue sea.

Bear with me. A snip from the top story on the New York Times website:


Cheney Assails Press on Report on Bank Data

Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and "absolutely essential" to fighting terrorism.




I had a funny moment today. I was channel-surfing and accidentally staggered across a vat of bad noise called the Abrams Report (I think that was the name, not completely sure) on MSNBC. The discussion was about this new revelation that the government is digging into bank records, and whether that's OK, etc. I didn't recognize the spokestool that was on to defend the administration, but he had that well-scrubbed blue-blazer blow-dried look one usually attaches to the Tucker Carson/white man with money/defend the status quo/GOP infighter set.

Anyway, the host of the show deftly sidestepped the issue of whether this financial spelunking was legal and/or ethical (by saying, simply, "Let's move on to...") and asked, "Can you tell me if this whole process has been around for a while, or did you all just think of this?" The spokestook replied, with his bare earnest face hanging out, "Yes, we just came up with this, it's brand new, bla bla bla..."

...and the lady hosting the show let him get away with which point I nearly terminated my television. Why? Because unlike the nice talking head lady running the show, I remember fairly recent history. Let's take a walk though history...oh, about exactly ten years back...

William Jefferson Clinton's landmark 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September 11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the right; Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats Clinton spoke of, some of which we now accept as a matter of course, like blue sky and wet water.

Most germaine to this discussion is the fact that Clinton wanted to use this legislation specifically to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with foreign banks and financial institutions that al Qaeda was using for its money-laundering operations. Note well: he wanted to do this in 1996.

This involved, among other things, the kind of financial bird-dogging that has been "exposed" by these recent reports. That's an essential part of the deal, and there's no avoiding it; if you're going to wither their financial networks, you have to dig into financial records, and you're not going to defang them until you kill their funding.

Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the Banking Committee and a card-carrying Republican, was instrumental in the killing of Clinton's original and super-sharp version of the anti-terror bill, specifically because Gramm objected to the eyes-on attack on the terrorism money trail. Gramm actually called the bill, and the financial aspects specifically, "totalitarian."

But here's the funny part.

In point of fact, Gramm was compelled to kill the bill because his most devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders. If the government had eyeballed the terrorism money-laundering all the way to those offshore clearinghouses, the poor sacks at Enron would have had their stolen-money-made-clean clearinghouses in the Caymans shut off for good.

They just thought of this whole financial tracking thing, said the shiny MSNBC spokestool today. Hmmm...well, I suppose that could fly...sure. These Bush folks aren't too scholastic, for the most part, and proudly so, for the most part. Maybe they never heard of Clinton's Omnibus Anti-Terrorism Bill of 1996...

...or maybe they never bothered to read the original bill with its provisions that legislated exactly this kind of financial hunting...

...and maybe they never saw or read the final revised and redacted and watered-down bill...

...and didn't notice the smouldering hole in the middle of the watered-down bill, the hole that used to have these financial-hunting provisions intact before Gramm called them "totalitarian" and burned them out so he could protect his Enron donors in Houston...

...and maybe some of them even today will make noises about how 9/11 was Clinton's fault, even though they were instrumental in killing his anti-terror bill that would have gone a long way towards making sure 9/11 didn't happen...

...yeah...I can see that...anyway...

There are too many layers of hypocrisy on this onion to peel in one sitting, so let's just finish here:

Cheney is right, on the surface: hunting terrorists and terrorism networks, and their state sponsors, and their private sponsors, and where they are and where they go, etc., is best done by FOLLOWING THE MONEY. At the end of the day, the smartest way to attack this phenomenon is by treating it as a criminal enterprise like the Mafia...and all RICO was in the end was a way to FOLLOW THE MONEY, and attack/destroy/imprison whatever came at the end of FOLLOWING THE MONEY.

Terrorism costs money, just like anything else. Terrorism (real, organized, large-scale terrorism) does not happen without money. The American military can bomb everything wearing a turban, and all they'll do is justify the terrorism on the Arab street by creating stacks of innocent dead.

But if you cut off the money, if you shut down the gray-area clearinghouses where money flows with no names attached, if you make it impossible for (oh, let's say) some pissed-off Saudi prince with a billion dollars to play with to pay a bunch of Wahabbists on the sly to conduct a suicide attack...if you FOLLOW THE MONEY and CUT OFF THE MONEY, you're 90% of the way towards winning a real, serious, effective, legitimate War on Terror.

Cheney was right. This whole scheme to follow the money, on the surface, is (literally) the first really smart thing these bozos have done in this fight. Natterheads on MSNBC pretending they invented this idea notwithstanding, following the money and then cutting it off is pretty much the first, best way to thwart this stuff. Had they done this starting, mmmmm, five years ago, the planet would be in far better shape. File this under "Duh."

Of course, that's all on the surface. Of course, if following the money leads them to some friends of George (in, say, Saudi Arabia), or some friends of friends of George, or some political donors of George, or some allies of convenience of George, you can rest assured "exceptions" will be made. (---> BANG HEAD HERE <---)

And, of course, it's also funny that these Bush guys have broken so many laws and steamrolled so much of the constitution and generally treated the whole concept of rules as just a bunch of crap to be ignored, that when they finally do something SMART, they get blasted for it.

Poor Cheney. He can't understand why nobody trusts him. That's the irony, though. He's right. Attacking the money is, in fact, absolutely essential to winning a "War on Terror"...and if they'd started doing this five years ago (or ten, thank you Mr. Gramm) instead of invading and occupying and killing and plundering and profiteering and lying oh so very much...

...if they had attacked this thing like it was a criminal enterprise (which it is) and sought international cooperation (which was there) and paralyzed the financial networks that are the lifeblood of international terrorism (which was eminently possible)...

...well...there it is, I guess.

No, I'm not bitter.
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