April 07,2011

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Scott Mulhauser/Erin Shields
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Baucus Hearing Statement Regarding the Nominations of David S. Cohen and Jenni R. LeCompte to the U.S. Treasury

President Dwight D. Eisenhower once said:

“We seek peace, knowing that peace is the climate of freedom.”

Our country is founded on the principles of freedom and liberty.  In fact, our Constitution makes clear that we strive to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.”

And throughout American history, we have dedicated ourselves to upholding these principles.  We strive to ensure liberty at home and support freedom abroad.  

As our world changes, we face new challenges in meeting this goal.  Today, it is not enough to fight the dangers we can see.  We need to address those we cannot see as well. 

Mr. Cohen, as the Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Crimes, much of this task falls on your shoulders. 

You must fight terrorism where it often starts – at the beginning of the money trail.  You must find and eliminate the funding that terrorists rely upon.  You must fight financial crimes and impose economic sanctions.

The Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, or TFI, has a track record of success in carrying out this task.  Your predecessor, Stuart Levey, guided TFI from its creation seven years ago to its status today as a powerful tool in the fight against terrorism.

This office has been active on many fronts, combating financial support networks for al Qaeda, Iran, North Korea and the Taliban in Afghanistan.

In fact, I was able to visit the Afghan Threat Finance Cell team in Afghanistan last year and was impressed by their efforts to cut off funding for the Taliban and al Qaeda in that region.

And TFI has proven agile in facing new threats as they emerge.  The office has taken aggressive steps in recent weeks to freeze assets totaling over $30 billion associated with the regime of Muammar el-Qaddafi, further isolating the regime.

But issues remain with our U.S. anti-terrorism funding efforts.  To ensure the effectiveness of our efforts, we need to maximize our resources without duplicating them. 

We need to coordinate the 19 federal offices that work on terrorism financing.  We need to work seamlessly with the Justice Department, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies that oversee this issue.  And we need to make sure we have the training and resources to anticipate – not just react to – the next generation of issues we will face.

This is a huge challenge for you Mr. Cohen.  I would remind you of the words of British terrorism expert Paul Wilkinson, who once said: 

“Fighting terrorism is like being a goalkeeper.  You can make a hundred brilliant saves, but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.”  

Ms. LeCompte, you have been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary of Treasury for Public Affairs.  In this capacity, you must ensure the American people are aware of the enormous tasks that the Treasury Department undertakes. 

From printing our money, to collecting our taxes, to overseeing our banking system, to stamping out terrorist financing, the Treasury Department is responsible for much of what makes this country function. 

Your role will be to inform the American people of all that you do, in an objective and transparent manner.  I urge to fulfill this role with clarity of purpose and precision.

You both bring experience and vigor to your jobs.  Should you be confirmed, you will be required to maximize both in your new roles.  I urge you to do so to the best of your ability.  And I urge my colleagues to confirm you without delay.