Treasury Designates Individuals Furthering Syrian Regime’s Efforts to Undermine Lebanese Democracy

U.S. Treasury Department Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release November 5, 2007
Contact Candice Pratsch, (202) 622-2960

        Treasury Designates Individuals Furthering Syrian Regime’s Efforts to Undermine Lebanese Democracy

The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated four individuals affiliated with the Syrian regime’s efforts to reassert Syrian control over the Lebanese political system.

“Syria has used all means at its disposal – from bribery to intimidation to violence – to undermine the legitimate political process in Lebanon,” said Stuart Levey, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  “Today’s action exposes four individuals involved in such activities and serves as a warning to others who would do likewise.”

Syrian troops formally withdrew from Lebanon in April 2005 after a 29-year military presence. The Syrian regime is working through Lebanese proxies to exert control over the Lebanese political system; to weaken the majority pro-government March 14 Coalition; and to undermine Lebanese sovereignty and security.  The regime has used a range of tools to further these objectives, including bribing politicians, intimidation, interference in the selection of a new president, support for violence, and providing arms to militias and terrorist groups.  The four individuals designated today have worked to undermine Lebanese sovereignty and support the Syrian regime’s efforts to interfere in Lebanon’s internal affairs.

Syrian intelligence has assisted Hizballah and other oppositionists in Lebanon to orchestrate protests and demonstrations demanding the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora's cabinet, which it deems illegitimate.  The protests began in December 2006 in Beirut and continue today.  Additionally, the Syrian regime has provided arms to illicit Lebanese militias and Palestinian terrorist groups.  In addition, the Syrian regime is believed to be intimidating Lebanese who call for the establishment of an international tribunal to try the killers of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. 

Assaad Halim Hardan, Wi’am Wahhab and Hafiz Makhluf were designated pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13441, signed by President George W. Bush on August 1, 2007.  E.O. 13441 blocks the property of persons undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes and institutions.

Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik was designated pursuant to E.O. 13338, which is aimed at individuals and entities contributing to the Government of Syria's problematic behavior.  President Bush signed E.O. 13338 on May 11, 2004 in response to the Syrian government's continued support of international terrorism, sustained occupation of Lebanon, pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining of U.S. and international efforts in Iraq. 

Today's designations freeze any assets the designees may have located in the United States, and prohibit U.S. persons from engaging in transactions with these individuals.

Identifying Information

Assaad Halim Hardan
AKAs:                   Assad Hardan

          As'ad Hardan

DOB:                    July 31, 1951
POB:                    Rashayya al-Fakhar, Lebanon
Profession:             Member of Parliament, Lebanon
Political Affiliation:  Chief of the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) Central

          Political Bureau

Assaad Hardan is a senior official in the SSNP.  During 2007, the SSNP received arms and military training from Syria and Hizballah.  Hardan works with senior Syrian officials to significantly influence Lebanese politics in furtherance of Syria's efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty.

Wi'am Wahhab
AKAs:                   Wi'am Wihab

          Wiam Wahhab
          Wiyam Wihab
          Wiyam Wahab

DOB:                    1964
POB:                    Al-Jahiliya, Shouf Mountains, Lebanon

Wi'am Wahhab, a former member of the Lebanese Parliament, works with senior Syrian officials to significantly influence Lebanese politics in furtherance of Syria's efforts to undermine Lebanese sovereignty.

Hafiz Makhluf
AKA: Hafez Makhlouf
Position: General Intelligence Directorate senior official
Military Rank: Colonel
DOB: Circa 1975
POB: Damascus, Syria

Colonel Hafiz Makhluf, a senior official in the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, has supported the reassertion of Syrian control or otherwise contributed to Syrian interference in Lebanon.

Makhluf is a maternal cousin to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. He is also the brother of Rami Makhluf, Syria’s leading businessman, who has been the subject of persistent allegations of corruption and cronyism.

Muhammad Nasif Khayrbik
AKAs:                   Muhammad Nasif Khayr-Bayk

          Mohammed Nassif Khairbek
          Mohammad Nasif Kheirbek

Address:                Damascus, Syria
Position:               Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs
Military Rank:         Major General
DOB:                    April 5, 1937

As of early 2007, Khayrbik was one of several key advisors to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. In early 2006, Khayrbik was named Deputy Vice President for Security Affairs.  In this position, Khayrbik has played a central role in Syria's continuing policy of destabilizing Lebanon and Syria's relationship with known designated terrorist organizations, including Hizballah.  In early 2006, Khayrbik coordinated Syrian and Hizballah positions during regular meetings with Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of the Lebanese Hizballah.

Khayrbik has long served the Syrian regime, having served as a close advisor to former President Hafiz al-Asad.  In mid-1999, President Hafiz al-Asad appointed Khayrbik as the deputy director of the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate (GID), a position he served in until February 2006.

Comments (32)


1. EHSANI2 said:

“Makhluf is a maternal cousin to Syrian President Bashar al-Asad. He is also the brother of Rami Makhluf, Syria’s leading businessman, who has been the subject of persistent allegations of corruption and cronyism.”

Things are getting a little more serious and nasty.

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November 6th, 2007, 12:22 am

 

2. Majhool said:

So Now they no longer can get green cards in the US and Canada? lol. I am all for it, let them stay in Syria and contribute without the luxury of a potential escape to north America…These Bios seems to be supplied by the Lebanese.

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November 6th, 2007, 1:08 am

 

3. Nur al-Cubicle said:

I would like to remind everyone that the Prime Minister of Spain (NATO member), Mr. Zapatero, is prohibited from entering the United States for withdrawing his contingent from Iraq.

Haw, this is a good one:
All-points bulletin for criminal mastermind Assaad Halim Hardan, Member of Parliament! Puh-leese. Now who is interfering with the Lebanese presidential election, hmm?

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November 6th, 2007, 1:13 am

 

4. norman said:

I wonder when the war in Lebanon is going to start.

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November 6th, 2007, 1:52 am

 

5. Joshua said:

These treasury department sanctions have nuisance value, but not much else.

Rami Makhlouf spent his honeymoon in the US. I guess his 32 year oldish brother will have to steer clear of the 50 States.

I like that the USG cannot even find out when he was born, writing “circa 1975.”

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November 6th, 2007, 4:18 am

 

6. why-discuss said:

What is the US treasury hoping to achieve with that? please Siniora and Hariri? it looks pointless and childish..

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November 6th, 2007, 4:57 am

 

7. AnotherIsraeliGuy said:

It is a warning that no one is immune.

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November 6th, 2007, 5:51 am

 

8. fadal said:

though the sanctions are more of a warning rather than an action, the people there will be terrified as they put their escape plans in case anything happened as a priority.

that is better. they will lose confidence in sending their monies abroad. they will enjoy living in syria.

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November 6th, 2007, 8:43 am

 

9. EHSANI2 said:

Once such sanctions are imposed, the pattern has been to ask other countries to do the same. German and Swiss banks were pressured to stop doing business with Iranian entities after they were sanctioned by the US. Following some delay at first, these institutions obliged. I suspect the same thing will happen here. A person’s assets and those of next of kin will therefore not be safe anywhere in the banking system. This is not as insignificant as many seem to think.

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November 6th, 2007, 12:32 pm

 

10. SimoHurtta said:

These US sanctions get more amusing day after day. Bin Laden’s brothers are allowed to continue to do business with the Bush family and USA. And without doubt the bin Ladens pay the dividends to their “lost” brother.

In Finland there was just in news that a Finnish company was pressured by USA (as some interviewed experts say) not to sell to China research equipment which could be used by the military. The device had something to do with making ultra thin layers in fast circuit boards. Well the Chinese have to create the technology themselves. In a couple of years they will sell these equipments to Europe and USA. 🙂

The more USA creates the rather amusing sanctions against certain individuals working to their government in official positions and parts of a nations army the more laughable the US foreign policy comes. What if China, lets say after 10 years, would put sanction to all who make business with US Marines and G. Bush’s daughter who is then the pro-consul of Lebanon? If European banks and companies then have to choose between China and her allies or USA, what will be the result?

US foreign policy resembles much teenager girls social games. “We and our allies do not speak with you, we do not like you”. The funny thing that the one counted to the WE do not agree with the prima donna.

A perfect example of US foreign policy skills is Rice’s comment in AFP news:

The joint statement was “going to be delivered to the Syrians on behalf of all of us,” she said. “We had hoped that the Syrian was still around. We would have liked to deliver it in person.”

Well and these kind of people are leading the superpower…

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November 6th, 2007, 2:15 pm

 

11. majedkhaldoun said:

this is a message to Bashar and his entourage,and at the same time it is steeling the money

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November 6th, 2007, 2:30 pm

 

12. Ford Prefect said:

This administration never fails to amaze me with its inept and unrepentant policies. And of course, this latest designation of these four bozos as undermining Lebanon’s stability is the crowing achievement of last month’s visits of high-ranking Lebanese officials to pay tribute to Washington’s neocons. (P.S. These Lebanese officials have actually taken some serious time off from their busy shopping schedule to discuss Lebanon’s democracy! Did anyone run into the entourage of Hariri shopping at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan? That was quite a scene!)

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November 6th, 2007, 3:28 pm

 

13. why-discuss said:

Ehsani

German and Swiss banks were pressured to stop doing business with Iranian entities after they were sanctioned by the US. Following some delay at first, these institutions obliged.

People and businesses are just moving their money in euro ( that is making the dollar even less attactive) and are already making use of the numerous swiss banks and financial institutions that are still doing business with Iran.
“A Swiss bank has said it is willing to take on Iranian clients, discarded by larger rivals because of concerns about security and other business risks.”

There will always be other alternatives and it may end up by being detrimental to the US economy with the running loss of confidence in the US dollar as the most used business currency.

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November 6th, 2007, 3:47 pm

 

14. Observer said:

From atimes.com
Air strikes first, questions later
By Khody Akhavi

WASHINGTON – More than two months after Israeli warplanes conducted a mysterious raid in northeast Syria, there is a growing consensus among US government and independent analysts that the suspicious target was a nuclear facility.

But the evidence they are relying on – a series of satellite photos showing a building and an adjacent pumping station near the Euphrates River – is anything but definitive, given how closely guarded US-Israeli discussions have been. With the exception of

several highly classified one-on-one briefings about the incident to a handful of US congressional leaders, the George W Bush administration has kept mum.

Western analysts say a tall, boxy building on the site may have contained a nuclear reactor under construction similar to a North Korean design, but the structure itself was razed after the September 6 air raid. They say that the secret nuclear reactor may be several years old.

Whether or not the facility was nuclear, the episode – and Israeli, Syrian and US silence over the issue – raises even more questions as to the actual threat posed by the facility, the timing of the raid, and what the unilateral action portends for the nuclear ambitions of Israel’s regional neighbors.

A United Nations watchdog inquiry into the suspected Syrian covert nuclear site may end inconclusively without more information than the satellite pictures that are already available. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has asked to see the intelligence that prompted the attack, and is also seeking information from Damascus about its alleged program.

Syria is required to inform the IAEA of any activities relating to nuclear activities.

“At the IAEA, we have zero, and I stress ‘zero’, information on the attack,” IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei told the French newspaper Le Monde last week. “Frankly, I venture to hope that before people decide to bombard and use force, they will come and see us to convey their concerns. We would have gone to there to check.”

The air strike unequivocally shows that the US and Israel have decided to circumvent the UN’s monitoring of nuclear proliferation situations in the Middle East, according to analysts.

“The Bush administration’s decision not to share its intelligence on the Syrian site with the IAEA and thereby encourage and support the international agency’s aggressive inspection and evaluation of this alleged threat to peace, was another demonstration of the contempt in which the present US administration holds the UN organization,” wrote former CIA analyst Ray Close in an e-mail to Inter Press Service (IPS).

“It suggests, in effect, that the United States intends to manage the international nuclear proliferation issue all by itself, independent of the rest of the international community – except for deputizing Israel to be the nuclear policeman of the Middle East,” he wrote.

Close also told IPS that the US’s decision not to publicize the intelligence that presumably justified the Israeli attack suggests that Washington did not find the Israeli evidence altogether persuasive. Another photo, taken on September 13, 2003, by a US commercial satellite, suggests that US officials may have known about the facility long before the Israeli mission, but did not consider it an immediate threat. During that time, the White House officials were sounding the alarm on the reconstitution of Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program, but, ironically, never discussed the presumed effort in neighboring Syria.

The White House’s complicity in Israel’s action also points to the rift within the administration, between right leaning hawks such as former UN ambassador John Bolton and the pragmatism favored by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Bolton’s role cannot be overstated.

Bolton, now a fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute, repeatedly clashed with the intelligence community over Syria’s intentions when he was undersecretary for arms control. In the summer of 2003, Bolton’s testimony on Capitol Hill was delayed because some intelligence officers felt that Bolton overstated the Syrian threat. As former CIA officer Philip Girardi wrote in the pages of the American Conservative, “At one point, Bolton was forced to strike from a speech language suggesting that Syria had a nuclear program.”

Girardi continues: “On another occasion, Bolton’s judgments on Syria were challenged by Robert Hutchings, director of the National Intelligence Council, who charged that Bolton ‘took isolated facts and made much more of them … cherry picking … to present the starkest possible case’.”

Fast forward to 2007. Writing in the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal more than a week before the Israeli strike, Bolton asserted, “We know that both Iran and Syria have long cooperated with North Korea on ballistic missile programs, and the prospect of cooperation on nuclear matters is not far-fetched.

“Whether and to what extent Iran, Syria or other might be ‘safe havens’ for North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, or may have already benefited from it, must be made clear,” he wrote.

The focus on North Korea comes as the US prepares to implement a deal to end the country’s nuclear weapons program, a diplomatic approach that has drawn the ire of neo-cons like Bolton.

“Bolton represents the crowd that is very distressed that the US has declared defeat in North Korea by trusting the North Koreans. They would like to scuttle that agreement,” wrote Syria expert Josh Landis, on his widely-read blog, http://www.syriacomment.org.

At the Korea Economic Institute Forum last week, executive director of the Arms Control Association Daryl G Kimball said, “If Syria was indeed building a reactor and if North Korea was involved, there are other steps the United States could – and should – take to hold the DPRK accountable and ensure that Pyongyang provides no further nuclear assistance to other states without derailing the prospects of verifiably dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program and risking the possibility of further North Korean proliferation transgressions.”

Israel’s action also came as Rice shuttled about the Middle East in preparation for substantive peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, presumably the first time “final status” issues would be discussed between the two sides in seven years. It remains to be seen what impact Israel’s foray will have on the peace process.

“By its attack on Syria, the Israeli leadership has demonstrated that it attaches a higher priority to restoring the credibility of its military dominance over its neighbors than it does to supporting American diplomatic efforts to advance the peace process – on which Israel’s real security ultimately depends,” Close told IPS.

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November 6th, 2007, 4:00 pm

 

15. Observer said:

This is absolutely of no consequence whatsoever as there are huge loopholes available through an ever expanding banking system. It is of no consequence to the people targeted or to the regimes. It will actually make several of the targeted people opt for a more secure banking system that does not trade within the Western system of banking. I can assure EHSANI 2 that there are thousands of European bankers who will bow and smile and give you the carpet treatment if you let them know that money is being deposited into the European financial system. You can have a safe deposit box where you keep the diamonds and the gold and no one is the wiser. As a matter of fact, the true national sport in Europe is how to hide your money from taxation.

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November 6th, 2007, 4:21 pm

 

16. EHSANI2 said:

OBSERVER,

You don’t need to assure me. I am a banker and I know that there are hundreds of financial institutions that would take your money.

The U.S. wields enormous influence through its private monitoring of SWIFT. This does not mean that you cannot hand over your Swiss francs to your friendly private banker at your office in Damascus.

The top tier institutions of course would give you a pass. But others may not.

This does not mean either you or the institution which has your money can relax and fall soundly asleep. These sanction are very hard to undo once they fo in effect.

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November 6th, 2007, 5:42 pm

 

17. Nur al-Cubicle said:

L’Orient Le Jour is reporting that the Presidential election is likely to be delayed again. Also, UNIFIL says Hezbollah is not training along the border with Israel.

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November 6th, 2007, 6:58 pm

 

18. Jamal said:

This is as much about naming and shaming as interfering with their shopping rights.

It’s proved a grubby lifelong label for others in various rogue regimes. They’ve found it very hard to go anywhere or do anything much after their patron/family lost power.

I agree with Ehsani2 about other banks following through. European banks that dealt with some African dictators subsequently copped a lot of embarrassing government-level inquiries and negative publicity that had inter-bank fallout.

And it’s good to see special pressue on individual Syrians who actually deserve it. There are already a hundred little ways the pinch is on innocent Syrians. Try to order a book from Amazon to Syria for example.

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November 6th, 2007, 7:44 pm

 

19. Ford Prefect said:

Jamal,
The question is whether such actions are ever going to hurt the named crooks or not. I doubt it and in fact, it might even be counter productive – Syrian people usually end up being the real victim. The focus should be on the real issue of peace; not political vendettas.

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November 6th, 2007, 8:47 pm

 

20. SimoHurtta said:

The U.S. wields enormous influence through its private monitoring of SWIFT.

What means private monitoring? Amusing term private monitoring for what it really means = illegal spying. Funny. One thing is certain that USA uses the data mostly for governmental and industrial spying, more than “terrorist hunting”.

SWIFT to open second centre in Switzerland to avoid EU data going to US data centre.

EU’s decision what will be done with SWIFT is still in the wheels of EU bureaucracy. Seems to be a very “hot potato”. Revealing that “private monitoring” has been a great humiliation for USA and EU. The more USA uses that “private monitoring” the more European countries loose their trust in the system.

An amusing turn was when EU announced a plan that it is beginning to demand same data as USA demands from EU citizens. Fingerprints from US citizens visiting EU etc. fair isn’t it?

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November 6th, 2007, 9:34 pm

 

21. EHSANI2 said:

SIMO,

Once the U.S freezes someone’s Dollar based account, it is trouble whether you can monitor SWIFT or not. Accounts held in other currencies are different. if you ask any banker, they will tell that it is highly unlikely that they will open an account for any individuals who have been sanctioned by the US Treasury (in any currency). The senior management of these banks will not take the risk-reward that comes with opening such accounts. You don’t have to take my word. Ask your friendly banker yourself/

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November 6th, 2007, 9:46 pm

 

22. Youssef Hanna said:

The Bush last presidential decree in this respect dates of the midst of the Maten partial elections; i suspect Aoun and his financial sponsors r the indirect targets of this campaign already hitting Wahhab and co. Notice that Aoun cooled down since.

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November 6th, 2007, 11:25 pm

 

23. SimoHurtta said:

Eshani2 what means “private monitoring”. Can you give an answer to the asked question as a banker or are you also a layer?

Eshani2 have bin Ladens, the friends and the foes, dollar accounts? By the way Eshani2 how about the Cayman accounts US citizens widely use? Are the privately monitored?

There are numerous other relevant options nowadays than dollars. People in the third world and unstable countries nowadays favour Euros and other currencies than USD. The era of USD domination is nearing its sun set. Now EUR/USD 1,4558 +0,57% and the trend seems to continue. Doesn’t look good for “private monitoring”.

We in in Europe do not have dollar based accounts. We have in our accounts Euros and use rarely dollars. I must tomorrow to go to my bank and check can I open a new account or has the mighty U.S. forbidden me to do that. 🙂

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November 6th, 2007, 11:29 pm

 

24. EHSANI2 said:

SIMO,

You are getting too excited. Calm down buddy. Take a deep breath and start making some sense. You are mixing apples and oranges.

Did you call me a lier or a lyar (is that Finnish?)

What I meant by private monitoring is access to data. Hopefully that would help sooth your nerves.

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November 6th, 2007, 11:42 pm

 

25. Jamal said:

Simohurtta, take Ehsani’s word for it. Technology, globalization, tactics in tracking terrorist funding (and even banks’ governance and shareholder issues) in recent years have made financial transactions much, much trickier for named foes of the USA.

Ford Prefect, I agree with you in some ways. But I think it’s better than doing nothing to bother those guys. And as I said, it can sour their circumstances in ways they don’t anticipate in years to come.

And tell me, is there anything/anyone that can match by even 1% what these guys and their thug bosses are doing to nurture problems and strangle the prospects of normal Syrian people?

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November 7th, 2007, 12:09 am

 

26. Observer said:

The individuals can have their accounts placed in other names. They can even have the accounts opened in the names of some of the prisoners if they want to to make sure the owner does not flee with the cash. Austria seems to have been a favored spot and many of the cash is now in assets buried in various projects.
On a different note, the op ed by David Brooks that I copy below has gone into a previous analysis that I posted before although I disagree with Brooks about how effective the “moderates” are. I think they are completely paralyzed as they have had no strategic thinking at all for at least the last 35 years. They have all followed in the dictates and advice of the US and now they see incompetence at best and malicious chaos promotion at worst. Here it is
Present at the Creation

DAVID BROOKS

Amman, Jordan

What is Condi doing?

This is the question that’s been floating around foreign policy circles over the past few months. It is then followed by more specific questions: Why is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spending her remaining time in office banging her head against the Israeli-Palestinian problem? Why has she bothered to make eight trips to the region this year? What can possibly be accomplished when the Israeli government is weak and the Palestinian society is divided?

It took a trip to the region for me to finally understand that this peace process is unlike any other. It’s not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it’s about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the “moderate” states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.

It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.

Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

The Syrians, who have broken with the Sunni nations and attached themselves to Iran, are feeling stronger by the day. At least one-third of Iraq is under Iranian influence. Hezbollah is better armed and more confident now than it was before its war against Israel. Hamas is being drawn closer inside the Iranian orbit and is more likely to take over the West Bank than lose its own base in Gaza.

In short, Iran is taking advantage of the region’s three civil wars and could have its proxy armies on Israel’s northern, western and southern borders.

Arab opinion, even in Sunni nations, is sympathetic to Iran. Egypt, which should serve as a counterbalance to Iran, is sclerotic and largely absent from the scene.

It’s no wonder Rice has acted so forcefully to forge the “moderate” coalition. She seems to sense what leaders in the region say privately: It’s not so much that they have high hopes of peace; it’s that they are terrified they will fail. If they cannot restart the peace process and build an anti-Iran alliance upon it, then the days of the moderates could be numbered. That’s why Ehud Olmert, the prime minister of Israel, pinned what’s left of his career to this Annapolis process at a speech before the Saban Forum Sunday night, and why other leaders are so fervent behind the scenes.

There are a few problems to overcome. The Saudis, as is their nature, are trying to play both sides, making supportive noises about the anti-Iran project without doing much to actually help.

Some “moderate” Arab autocrats have become soul brothers with Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharaff, and are lobbying America to betray its principles and not condemn him.

Finally, there is the peace process itself. There is remarkably little substance to it so far. Even people inside the Israeli and Palestinian governments are not sure what’s actually going to be negotiated and what can realistically be achieved. Moreover, it’s not clear that either of those governments can actually deliver anything. The Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, can sign deals, but it’s not clear that he controls events a block from his headquarters. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert can do the same, but his cabinet is hostile and his people are cynically disengaged.

The whole thing could backfire and leave the anti-Iranian cause in worse shape than ever. If that happens, then life will get really ugly for Rice. America’s friends in the region will try to flip Syria out of the Iranian orbit by offering it the re-conquest of Lebanon. Rice would then face a Faustian bargain — continue the struggle against Iran, but at the cost of her own principles.

Still, despite these perils, Rice is surely right to be trying something. She’s an admirer of former Secretary of State Dean Acheson and is now present at the creation of a containment policy across the Middle East. The Bush administration is not about to bomb Iran (trust me). It’s using diplomacy to build a coalition to balance it, and reverse an ugly tide.

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November 7th, 2007, 2:06 am

 

27. Ford Prefect said:

Being at close proximity to what “data” surveillance means and does, I can ascertain that what Ehsani is talking about is not only true, it is also happening all over the world 24×7 (with and without the stakeholders’ knowledge). Without going into too much technical detail, global network “sniffers” and crawlers – along with data mining and aggregation techniques are at work looking at every electronic transaction regardless of the source and the destination (EU and data privacy issues can deal with it later!) (P.S. Even this blog and these writings are being “sniffed”).

So if Google can crawl the entire WWW through a mass of 300,000 servers, suffice to say that the global network of “sniffers” is there, hard at work, and doing the “Google” searches at many Google multiples.

Further, if there is an electronic transaction in US dollars anywhere in the world (short of US dollars tucked under a mattress), it must go through, hmmm, guess what, the Federal Reserve clearing house in the US.

Now, the sad part is that technology is way ahead of the humans looking over that information and making decisions about it. This is where we have a problem – the politically charged, gun-touting bigots who use this data to settle deeply rooted vendettas.

We will just have to wait another year for a sane., law-abiding government to take office in the US.

SimoHurta, I hear you. I know that you know the US is really a good, well-intentioned, and morally conscious superpower. What we are seeing today does not represent the values of Americans.

Just give us a year and see how America will get to live up to its moral values again. We are tired of being hated around the world and we are correcting the course further comes November 2008.

Jamal, slapping crooks with penalties and indictments is always a welcome event (OMG, I just read that Gulliani’s top model cop, Kerik, is ready to be indicted on corruption charges!!) But done haphazardly and without an overall agenda for achieving just results is, in my humble opinion, a waste of time and a distraction away from the crux of the problem.

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November 7th, 2007, 2:52 am

 

28. Ford Prefect said:

Observer,
Names are traced, tracked, verified, analyzed, linked, correlated, monitored, and categorized via forensic data analytics. Names are assigned certainty factors, statistical weights, and bounced against terabytes of data all in matters of milliseconds. Do you think that an unknown, average John Doe name can deposit $100M in Zürich, Singapore, or Hong Kong without notice? Every rose has its thorns.

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November 7th, 2007, 3:00 am

 

29. EHSANI2 said:

Dear FORD PREFECT,

You nailed the issues from a technical perspective (as usual).

I called a couple of Swiss bankers today. Their answer was “no way, we would touch a person who has been sanctioned by the U.S.” What if he had an account with you already, I asked. The answer was that they will recommend closing the account and moving it elsewhere.

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November 7th, 2007, 3:25 am

 
 

31. why-discuss said:

Observer

Refer to the Brooks paper.
It is a brilliant insight.
Rice is smartly using the common fear of Iran that Israel and the ‘obedient’ arab countries share to pull them together in a common goal to counteract Iran. She failed with the threat of nuclear weapon, now she is trying to use the Israel-palestinian issue. If she wins and is able to transform this coalition of the “weak” into a real deal for a palestinian state, everybody will hail Bush as a genius and they will forgive him all the disasters he has created. As a by-product Iran will be weakened, Syria may revise its alliances etc.. It does sound like a fantasy but it is the last poker game for the Bush admnistration to rehabilitate itself and the republican party.
Her chances? In view of the smart foreign policy of Iranians and the strong cards they hold against the US (Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas), it will be a very tough struggle.
If she fails, she can always accuse Iran, a non-arab country, to be the cause of the failure, by hammering in the media that Iran has spoiled the arab unity and destroyed the chance of the arab palestinians to get their own state.

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November 7th, 2007, 4:42 am

 

32. SimoHurtta said:

Did you call me a lier or a lyar (is that Finnish?)

Sorry Eshani2 for the typo, by layer I did mean lawyer (jurist) = people who do not give straight answers or answer different questions as they were asked to answer. 🙂

By the way Eshani2 did you phone to Cayman bankers, who hide the US criminal money?

Simohurtta, take Ehsani’s word for it. Technology, globalization, tactics in tracking terrorist funding (and even banks’ governance and shareholder issues) in recent years have made financial transactions much, much trickier for named foes of the USA.

Do you really Jamal think that USA uses the wast financial transaction data solely for terrorist hunting or for following “sanctioned moves”? Come-on. Most of the this spying is concentrated to friendly governments and industrial spying. The temptation to use this data is simply to big to avoid that. With the bank transaction data USA can figure out much about business contacts, pricing policies etc which have nothing to do with terrorism but give strategic advance to US governmental system and companies. US government is no neutral auditor, knowledge is power. The Echelon project was started long before 911 and the time when bin Laden and boys were still on CIA payroll.

By getting access to EU bank transactions is totally against European laws, it is simply illegal. USA would never allow EU or Russia and China to get the same level of access to US bank traffic even in the name of terrorist hunting. Actually it is a shame that EU did not protest the US SWIFT “move” in a big way and did let US government get away with this very serious crime and violation of trust and civil rights.

Amusingly it is widely known that for example Halliburton uses Cayman accounts to make business with enemy states under sanctions. How can USA blame EU companies for doing what her own companies do US government knowing it? EU companies do not brake any law because many of those sanction states are not under EU sanctions and they do completely legal business. Outrage over SEC terrorism ‘blacklist’.

USA is not buying population register data around the world for fun or to hunt terrorists. Let’s not be naive. The question is about control of the world, not “terrorist hunting”. The terrorist can easily transfer capital outside the banking system for example using carriers, drugs, gemstones and precious metals.

SimoHurta, I hear you. I know that you know the US is really a good, well-intentioned, and morally conscious superpower. What we are seeing today does not represent the values of Americans.

Just give us a year and see how America will get to live up to its moral values again. We are tired of being hated around the world and we are correcting the course further comes November 2008.

The Echelon project etc. which violate non American citizens rights have in practice during democrat and republican presidents. Nothing changes besides the rhetoric. USA wants to control and to be in control.

The problem is not the couple of sanctioned “bosses” and so called terrorists. The problem is USA’s ability to have information of us in EU, but we do not have the same level of information of US. That gives “a competitive edge” for USA.

PS.
The BBC and The Guardian newspaper earlier this month reported that BAE paid more than $2 billion into bank accounts in Washington operated by Prince Bandar bin Sultan. To bank accounts in Washington hmmmmm…

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November 7th, 2007, 6:12 am

 

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