Baucus OFAC Amendment Passes with Intel Reform Bill
Cuba Travel Ban Opponent Calls for Threat-based Allocation of Treasury Resources
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) U.S. Senator Max Baucus' amendment directing the Treasury Department to abide by new criteria for allocating resources in the war on terrorism passed the Senate today along with an intelligence reform bill.
Baucus, (D-Mont.) and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, joined withIntelligence Committee chairman, Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Senator Larry Craig (RIdaho)in successfully attaching an amendment to the National Intelligence Reform Act callingon the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, to abide by newcriteria for allocating resources and report to Congress on its progress every year.
"OFAC is one of our most powerful weapons in the War on Terrorism because it ischarged with tracking down and identifying the international sources of terrorist financing,"Baucus stated in a speech on the Senate floor.
However, Baucus noted, the Cuba travel ban also falls under OFAC’s jurisdiction, whichincludes monitoring of U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba.
"OFAC diverts more of its personnel resources to imposition of the Cuba travel ban thanto any other country or project-specific issue," said Baucus. "If we hope to defeat the disparatethreats arrayed against U.S. interests – both here at home and abroad – we must dedicate ourattention to the real dangers confronting us around the world."
Earlier this year, Baucus and Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) teamed up to investigate OFAC’s overall effectiveness. The Finance Committee investigationrevealed OFAC dedicates more resources to enforcing the Cuba travel ban that it does squeezingoff terrorists financial networks.
Currently, OFAC dedicates the equivalent of 21 full-time OFAC employees are allocated to the Cuba travel ban, while only 16 people are assigned to the search for Al-Qaeda’s financialsources of support.
Baucus said his amendment outlines threat-based criteria that ought to be used whenallocating OFAC resources to different countries and groups including:
* Planning or sponsoring a direct attack on U.S. interests* Participating in a nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons development program;* Financing or allowing the financing of terrorists;* Providing a safe haven to terrorists
"My amendment simply asks for common sense in the allocation of our limitedresources," said Baucus. "We cannot expect to win the War on Terrorism if we refuse to dedicateour full and focused efforts to fighting it. As we all know, U.S. policy toward Cuba is a highlyemotional and divisive issue," Baucus said. "Still, I would doubt that anyone seriously thinks thattravel by Americans to Cuba poses a larger or more serious threat to U.S. interests than Al-Qaedaor the insurgents in Iraq, or Syria, Iran or North Korea."
S. 2845, the National Intelligence Reform Act, overwhelmingly passed the Senate todayand will now proceed to conference where differences between the House and Senate versionwill be reconciled.
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