Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dictatertot Bush,Bye-Bye 5th.....

w Financial Tool for Iraq Fight

Tuesday July 17, 2007 9:16 PM


AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration announced a new tool Tuesday aimed at putting a financial squeeze on people who run networks that recruit and send would-be terrorists into Iraq.

President Bush unveiled an executive order that allows the administration to block bank accounts and any other financial assets that might be found in this country belonging to people, companies or groups that the United States deems are working to threaten stability in Iraq.

Bush cited the ``unusual and extraordinary threat'' to national security and foreign policy of the United States ``posed by acts of violence threatening the peace and stability of Iraq and undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq and to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.''

No person, company or group was designated under the order on Tuesday.

The order seeks to fill a gap in U.S. authority to use financial sanctions to go after such offenders.

White House press secretary Tony Snow said the order targets terrorist and insurgent groups, including those assisted by Syria and Iran, that are not covered by existing authorities.

``What this is really aimed at is insurgents and those who come across the border,'' Snow explained.

As many as 80 suicide bombers per month cross into Iraq from Syria, the administration said last week in an interim progress report on the war.

Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department's undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, believes the new authority will be helpful to U.S. efforts to stem violence in Iraq and to curb the flow of money - from both outside and inside Iraq - to support insurgents.

``There are now groups or individuals that we will now be able to target that would have been difficult prior to this executive order,'' Levey said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``For example, Shia militia groups linked to Iran. Sunni insurgent groups that are taking sanctuary in Syria and indigenous Iraqi insurgent groups that are not covered under pre-existing authorities.''

The president's new executive order comes as Republican support for the Iraq war has eroded in recent weeks. The White House's interim progress report found that the U.S.-backed government in Baghdad has made spotty progress in meeting major targets of reform.

The 25-page administration report was issued in the fifth year of a war that has claimed the lives of more than 3,600 U.S. troops and is costing U.S. taxpayers an estimated $10 billion a month.

Against this backdrop, the State Department announced Tuesday that the United States is ready to hold new direct talks with Iran on the deteriorating security situation in Iraq.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, in consultation with secretaries of State and Defense, is authorized to take action under the president's new executive order. Levey wouldn't say how soon the administration would use its new authority.

The administration already has tools to clamp down financially on people, companies and groups that seek to bankroll terrorist activities or help funds specific terror groups, such as al-Qaida and Hezbollah. It has sanctions against trade with certain officials of former President Saddam Hussein's regime. The United States also has financial sanctions against countries accused of fostering terrorism, such as Iran and Syria.


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