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Politics and Economy:
Tobacco Traffic
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The Patriot Act

Writer Mark Schapiro explains the changes to The Patriot Act (Read the full piece in THE NATION.)

On the one-month anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the tobacco industry took aim at Congress's first effort to respond to the crisis with a major piece of new legislation-what would later become the USA Patriot Act. On the morning of October 11, GOP Representative Michael Oxley of Ohio, Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services, brought what was then called the "Financial Anti-Terrorist Act" before his committee. The bill was intended to strengthen the hand of US law enforcement in going after what the Bush administration called "the financial sources of terrorism." It tightened US restrictions on money laundering, demanded greater transparency in US financial institutions and provided new levers for law enforcement to track international money trails used by terrorist and criminal organizations.

What the bill Oxley presented that day did not contain was Section 107(B), which was part of the act when it was first introduced on October 3, and which would have expanded the definition of money laundering to include "fraud or any scheme to defraud against a foreign government or foreign government entity, if such conduct would constitute a violation of this title if it were committed in interstate commerce in the United States."

"Tobacco Traffic" is the result of a six-month investigation by NOW with Bill Moyers, THE NATION, and the Center for Investigative Reporting.

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