November 02, 2008
Terrorism Financing Meets Judicial Review
Posted by David Zaring

The Washington Post's big Sunday story is on how badly the American pushed international terrorism financing prevention regime has done in courts in Europe.  That regime is designed to freeze the assets of people associated with terrorism, at least in the view of Treasury bureaucrats, before they can move those assets somewhere sinister.

Who could be against that?  Not me, in theory, but terrorism is something that you want your law enforcement officials to stop.  That's why the FBI and CIA spend considerable time on the issue.  The banking regulators who have also gotten involved have frozen the assets of an exceptionally wide array of people, and they've done it on the administrative quick.  They've been wrong a lot, and it still isn't clear how often they've been right.  The high error rate hasn't apparently bothered the Treasury Department - the upside of the asset freeze is that it is an extremely onerous sanction (imagine if you found yourself suddenly unable to use your credit or debit cards, house, phone, computer, car, or office - it's all freezable property) that can be put in place without any procedural protections.  Listings, both at the UN and the US, have continued apace.

A lot of people think the risk is worth the cost in error.  I've written a piece with Elena Baylis that begs to differ given the civil structure of the regime, and it's here, if you want a look.

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