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March 12, 2007

Under Patriot Act, Treasury casts a wide net

Under a little-noticed provision in the USA Patriot Act, the Treasury Department has ordered severe restrictions against foreign banks or countries for reasons beyond the stated purpose of the law and without producing evidence. Section 311 of the 2001 Patriot Act was drafted to halt terrorist financing and money laundering, but the Bush administration has used it against an alleged source of terrorist financing a bank in Syria only once. The Treasury has invoked it more often to punish alleged human-rights abuses or offshore banking havens.

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