Treasury gaffe: Official admits no new legislation needed

June 7, 2010
Daniel Glaser photo

Deputy Asst. Secretary Daniel Glaser

A gaffe in Washington, D.C., is when a public official accidentally tells the truth.  As a political favor to Sen. Carl Levin, the Obama administration became a forceful advocate for S. 569, an incorporation transparency bill that would supposedly help expose and prevent terrorist financial activity in the U.S. through shell corporations.

Last November, Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing David S. Cohen told Congress that the administration believes S. 569 would be “an important step in the right direction on this issue.”

But in recent testimony, Deputy Assistant Secretary Daniel Glaser (who actually reports to Cohen!) had a surprising exchange with Rep. John Adler (D-New Jersey).

Rep. Adler:  Thank you Mr. Chairman, I want to follow up with Mr. Paulsen’s [R-Minnesota] question about resources, maybe shift it a little bit to whether there’s legislative needs you would seek from us to empower you to do a better job with your limited role—I understand your point that it’s a limited role—are there things you need from us to give you more power or more direction to achieve our national security interests as it’s been laid out in this discussion this morning?

Mr. Glaser:  Thank you for the question, Mr. Adler—no.  I think what we need from Congress is what we’re getting from Congress, which is close attention to this problem.  Hearings like this I think are important and helpful in bringing out these issues and in stimulating public discussion, stimulating debate.  I think it’s all very important and healthy, and I think Congress is playing an absolutely vital role in its oversight function. But I don’t—there’s no particular piece of legislation that I would have to offer to be able to do our role better.  I think we have what we need right now.

Rep. Adler:  Is that a consensus opinion of the Department?  I want to make sure it’s beyond just your opinion, as much as I respect your opinion, but I want to have the comfort that we’re doing what we should to empower you to do what you need to do to keep our country safe.

Mr. Glaser:  Yes, I’m speaking for the Department.

Rep. Dennis Moore (D-Kansas), chairman of the subcommittee conducting the hearing, pressed Glaser on this point in follow-up questioning, but Glaser stuck to his guns insisting that Treasury doesn’t need more resources.

Tougher rules on incorporation might help Sen. Levin collect more taxes and rat out foreign-owned corporations to foreign tax authorities, but it would not help Treasury prevent or expose terrorist financing in any way, shape, or form.  Glad to see that Treasury hasn’t been completely bewitched by Levin-Obama-Cohen style thinking.

One comment

  1. Now that I’ve figured out how to capture video online, here’s the exchange:

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