Loopholes in banks' ID policies threaten national security

The Jan. 26 article, "Banks aim to help immigrants send money home," noted that banks made strides in the remittance market when the US Treasury ruled that banks could accept matricula consular cards as legitimate identification.

This may increase revenues for the banks, but national security pays the price.

Congress passed the Patriot Act after 9/11, which directed the Department of Treasury to regulate what identifications customers could use when seeking financial services. The idea was simple - if banks verify the identity of customers, authorities can identify and cut off the money going to terrorists, and thus cut off their ability to terrorize.

However, a loophole in these regulations allows IDs to be used to satisfy the "know your customer" policies that the FBI and Department of Homeland Security say are not secure at all, such as Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers and matricula consular cards.

Anytime we open up the legitimate stream of commerce to funds of unknown origins, we give terrorists, drug dealers, and other organized criminal organizations an entree to launder illicit funds. And make no mistake, we do not know where the funds are coming from if we don't know who is opening bank accounts.
Elton Gallegly
Member of Congress (R)

Accepting Hamas may curb its militancy

I appreciated the Jan. 27 article, "Is democracy empowering Islamists?," where it states, "The US might now seem hypocritical to many Arabs - encouraging democracy in the Middle East, while rejecting the choices that result from its exercise." This Hamas election victory is an opportunity for the Bush administration to "practice what it preaches" by recognizing this party as the legitimate voice of the Palestinians. This administration has pushed for free and fair elections for the Palestinians, and should now live with the results.

The article further states, "Some historians argue that radical groups' entry into mainstream politics has led them to moderate their stances...." The Bush administration should view the Hamas victory as it views the strategy it is pursuing in Iraq: The president has worked to legitimize the Sunni Arabs' participation in their new government to mitigate their insurgency. President Bush needs to make the first move in dealing with Hamas, hoping that they will renounce their militancy. This is the risk of democracy.
Jay Mennenga
Roberts, Mont.

Be aware of the products you purchase

I just came across Sara Bongiorni's Dec. 20 Opinion piece, "A year without 'Made in China.' " I, too, find it disturbing that we consume such vast amounts of what I consider unnecessary goods produced in China. I am tempted to try a month limiting China-made purchases and see how it goes. What I would like to see is consumers using more discretion when making disposable purchases.

When I grew up we had the same dining-room furniture that has since been handed down, and the same set of dishes for years. These things were never boring and were not considered disposable. I think shopping has become a form of entertainment made possible by the abundance of cheap, disposable products - not only from China. Such practice is a habit that can be changed through awareness. I don't want to stop buying Chinese-made products. I would like to purchase them with the same thoughtful awareness as I do other items.
Susan Toews
Janesville, Calif.

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