Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak this morning on an interest that we all share. This committee and this Congress passed important legislation last year to deal with terrorist money laundering. Our interest now is about getting down to brass tacks. It's about finding the means and employing those means to go after bad guys. To put out of business now and forever those willfully evil men who have targeted the US and its citizens. Whether they are terrorists or drug traffickers, what we intend is to ensure no more holidays, no free rides.
I understand that the Administration, this Congress, the public, the business community, and other countries are committed to doing what must be done in shutting down Terrorism Incorporated. It is gratifying to see the spirit, here and abroad, that prevails in this regard. I want to applaud those efforts and to commend those engaged on behalf of good in this fight. There is no easy or royal road that lies before us. Much is expected and much is required of us. Our history speaks of our willingness and ability to rise to challenge. We have our work cut out for us, but we are up to it.
While it is a bit early to expect much in the way of specific implementation of the measures that we passed in the Patriot Act, it is not too soon to check on how things are going. In this regard, I have a few observations.
The first of these concerns the need for a fully integrated national money laundering strategy. I felt strongly enough about this issue to have worked to pass legislation in the 106th Congress to establish a requirement that our money laundering efforts be coherent, coordinated, and integrated. That was an important goal before September 11, and, in my view, is now more important that ever. That is a law of some standing and we are now getting ready to see the third strategy required under the law.
I am concerned, however, that in the rush to do the many important things that must be done to combat terrorism and drug trafficking, we're missing something. That something is the integrated, coherent, sustained strategic thinking and coordinated responses that must be an essential component of what we are about. We expect what we do to make a difference. And in my humble opinion, part of what we need to be doing is thinking. This does not mean a paper exercise in which we publish a strategy and then forget the need for strategic thinking and coordinated responses. I intend to pay close attention to where things stand in regard to the need for such integrated strategic thinking, and I hope that this committee will also join me to ensure that this is the case.
As we look ahead, I also think that it is important to pay attention to a couple of on-going issues. In particular, I think we need to do some creative thinking on how we and others can address the problem of informal banking networks. Systems such as the hawala system and Black Market Peso Exchange activities. I also think we need a more sustained look at precious metals markets and the role that they play in money laundering. And we need to improve our efforts in the broader range of financial services, including money orders, stocks and bonds, and money exchange houses.
We need to think about tax haven regulations to ensure that we remain competitive internationally but do not permit money
launderers the opportunity to shelter their money at the same time. These efforts that I have noted will require us to be diligent
and prudent. We need to be sure that we do not regulate ourselves out of our rights; and to ensure our rights do not become
the means to take us for a ride. Government and the financial sector need to explore more and better means to cooperate. We
need a spirit of cooperation and reasonableness. The challenges ahead have no easy solutions. They inevitably will involve
frustration. They require our best thinking, our honest efforts, and a spirit of working to common purpose.
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