Senators seek coordination in tracking terrorist funding

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and ranking member Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Wednesday joined other lawmakers who have insisted that federal agencies coordinate their energies to track down sources of terrorist funding.

At a hearing, which Baucus promised would be the first of several on terrorist financing networks, he remarked, "Shutting down terrorism depends on having a coherent, strategic plan."

Noting that both the Treasury and Justice departments have established special units to track down terrorist assets, Baucus said he was interested in learning about plans "for improving coordination among the departments and various interagency task forces to make sure we do have an effective task force going forward."

He added, "It is important the federal government have a strategy that makes the best use of our law enforcement resources."

While emphasizing that he was not seeking to minimize the efforts undertaken by the Bush administration to identify those who provided the funds for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Grassley said he hoped to hear "what steps being taken to move beyond targeting individual terrorists... to shut down funding mechanisms that make terrorism possible before they strike again."

Grassley said he has observed "signs of bureaucratic infighting, one-upmanship and duplication of effort that too often plagued laws enforcement in past." He added, "Two task forces, with predominantly the same mission, working the same type of cases, asking for the same type information from identical sources of information demonstrates an old school of thought."

Grassley noted he and Baucus introduced legislation Tuesday to suspend tax-exempt status of designated terrorist organizations. Jimmy Gurule, the Treasury undersecretary for enforcement, said today the administration "fully supports the intent" of the proposal.

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