Ron Paul
2006 Ron Paul Chapter 49

Ron Paul Society For Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications

29 June 2006

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Society For Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications
29 June 2006

2006 Ron Paul 49:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that the federal government’s program examine records of international financial transactions collected by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) is worth all the sound and fury that has surrounded the program since its existence was revealed last week. For one thing, this program appears to threaten civil liberties less than the already widely known “Know Your Customer” program or the requirement that American financial institutions file suspicious activity reports whenever a transaction’s value exceeds $10,000. However, the program’s defenders should consider the likelihood that having federal bureaucrats wade through mountains of SWIFT-generated data will prove as ineffective in protecting the American people as other government programs that rely on sifting through mountains of financial data in hopes of identifying “suspicious transactions.”

2006 Ron Paul 49:2
According to investigative journalist James Bovard, writing in the Baltimore Sun on June 28, “[a] U.N. report on terrorist financing released in May 2002 noted that a ‘suspicious transaction report’ had been filed with the U.S. government over a $69,985 wire transfer that Mohamed Atta, leader of the hijackers, received from the United Arab Emirates. The report noted that ‘this particular transaction was not noticed quickly enough because the report was just one of a very large number and was not distinguishable from those related to other financial crimes.’ ” Congress should be skeptical, to say the least, that giving federal bureaucrats even more data to sift through will make the American people safer.

2006 Ron Paul 49:3
Congress should examine all government programs that monitor the financial transactions of American citizens to ensure they are effective and they do not violate the rights of Americans. Unfortunately, many of my colleagues are attacking newspapers that inform the American people about government surveillance on the grounds that revealing that the federal government is monitoring financial transactions somehow damages national security. It is odd to claim that, until last Friday, neither the American people nor America’s enemies had any idea that the government is engaging in massive surveillance of financial transactions, since the government has been openly operating major financial surveillance programs since the 1970s and both the administration and Congress have repeatedly discussed increasing the government’s power to monitor financial transactions. In fact, such an expansion of the government’s ability to spy on Americans’ banking activites was a major part of the PATRIOT Act.

2006 Ron Paul 49:4
Congress should be leery of criticizing media reporting on government activity. Attacking the media for revealing information about government surveillance of American citizens may make reporters reluctant to aggressively pursue stories that may embarrass the government. A reluctance by the media to “embarrass the state” will make it easier for the federal government to get away with violating the people’s rights. Media reports on government surveillance and other security programs can help Congress and the Americans people ensure the government’s actions effectively protect Americans’ security without infringing on basic constitutional liberties. I therefore urge my colleagues to reject this resolution.

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