02 August 2004
U.S. Financial Sector Running Normally Despite Threat, Snow Says
Treasury secretary applauds industry's resiliency
The United States' financial system opened for business August
2 and continued to operate normally despite a terror alert issued
the previous day, Treasury Secretary John Snow says.
"I applaud the financial services industry for remaining open
for business in the face of yesterday's reporting," he said in
an August 2 statement.
The Department of Homeland Security raised the threat alert for
the New York Stock Exchange and private banks in New York and New
Jersey as well as for the International Monetary Fund and the World
Bank in Washington. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said August
1 that the action was prompted by "very specific" intelligence
reports indicating that al-Qaeda terrorist network had planned
attacks on high-profile buildings in the United States housing
international and private banks.
Snow said the Department of the Treasury has been working closely
with law enforcement and security officials as well as international
organizations and the private sector to protect the financial infrastructure
from terrorist attack.
"While we must always remain vigilant against terror, we will
not be intimidated and prevented from enjoying our lives and exercising
our freedoms," Snow said.
Following is the text of his statement:
U.S. Department of the Treasury
Office of Public Affairs
Statement by Treasury Secretary John Snow
August 2, 2004
Our nation's financial markets, financial institutions and financial
sector continue to operate normally. I applaud the financial services
industry for remaining open for business in the face of yesterday's
reporting. The extraordinary commitment of the men and women who
make our financial systems work is invaluable; their work demonstrates
the resiliency and strength of our financial system.
The Treasury Department has been in close, continual and ongoing
cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, other federal,
state and local financial regulators, the international financial
institutions, and the private sector to strengthen and protect
our critical financial infrastructure.
Working together we have taken numerous steps including: improved
communications systems and protocols between and among financial
regulators and critical financial institutions, coordinated identification
of potential vulnerabilities in the financial services sector and
efforts to mitigate these vulnerabilities, joined with financial
regulators and private sector financial services groups to present
security seminars to financial business leaders in major cities
all across the nation, issued guidance on business continuity planning,
and conducted numerous drills and exercises to test backup systems
and prepare financial professionals.
People around the world rightly have confidence in the U.S. financial
markets. While we must always remain vigilant against terror, we
will not be intimidated and prevented from enjoying our lives and
exercising our freedoms. Our resolve is indivisible -- and unyielding.
In the war on terrorist financing we have successfully disrupted
and, in some cases, dismantled the financial infrastructure of
terrorist operations. Working in cooperation with the international
community, we have frozen more than $140 million in terrorist-related
assets, designated 383 individuals and entities as terrorist supporters,
apprehended or disrupted key terrorist facilitators and deterred
donors from supporting al-Qaeda and other like-minded terrorist
groups. In addition, the Administration has collaborated with Congress
to develop a new Treasury Department structure -- the Office of
Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI) -- to strengthen our
efforts to fight terrorist financing. America is safer today because
we have made it harder and costlier for al-Qaeda and other terrorist
groups to raise and move money around the world.
The international financial institutions -- the International
Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group in particular -- have also
taken extraordinary measures to protect against the threat of a
terrorist attack. The U.S. Treasury has worked closely with these
institutions to help ensure that they will continue to make their
vital contributions to the global economy. We applaud their dedication
as they continue to operate during the raised threat level.
Federal regulators and law enforcement officials will continue
to work closely with financial market participants to quickly respond
to any potential market disruptions. The key financial coordinating
groups which work with the financial markets in our efforts to
secure the financial infrastructure will continue their activity.
Among those are the President's Working Group on Financial Markets
(PWGFM) chaired by Treasury whose members include the heads of
four agencies: Treasury, Federal Reserve Board, SEC [Securities
and Exchange Commission] and CFTC [Commodity Futures Trading Commission];
the Financial and Banking Information Infrastructure Committee
(FBIIC) which is chaired by the Treasury and comprised of federal
and state financial regulators; the Financial Services Sector Coordinating
Council (FSSCC) -- the chairman of which is appointed by the Treasury
Secretary; and the Financial Services Information and Analysis
Center (FS-ISAC). All are in close cooperation and coordination
with each other, the Department of Homeland Security, other key
agencies and the private sector.