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Why the tobacco industry feared The Patriot Act.
June 13, 2002 8:39 AM   Subscribe

Why the tobacco industry feared The Patriot Act. Rep. Michael Oxley removed a provision involving money laundering from the bill at the behest of the White House and GOP whip Tom DeLay, under pressure from Big Tobacco.
posted by o2b (6 comments total)

 
newsflash: business owns the government
posted by troybob at 9:06 AM on June 13, 2002


The Nation has a fairly extensive story covering these money laundering and smuggling schemes. It's a pretty good read.
posted by stefanie at 9:26 AM on June 13, 2002


discussed here
posted by machaus at 9:48 AM on June 13, 2002


newsflash: business owns the government

Newsflash: The Patriot Act’s money laundering provisions are very harsh with absolutely no mitigation. In fact, they might have very well have a chilling effect on many businesses. I see where tobacco companies might want to save themselves lots of money, litigation and extremely burdensome legal compliance. What's so wrong with that troybob? Your cynicism and glib comment reveals your complete lack of understanding of the Patriot Act's money laundering provisions and its potential effect on all sorts business.
While "Big Tobacco" (which I hate, but let's be fair for once) gets all of the headlines because of its bad reputation and lobbying power, I'll sure lots of other business lobbied (perhaps successfully) to be exempted for the Patriot Act's money laundering provisions. Just because you and I don't like "Big Tobacco" doesn't mean they don't the right to act in their own self-interest.
posted by Bag Man at 11:04 AM on June 13, 2002


Just because you and I don't like "Big Tobacco" doesn't mean they don't the right to act in their own self-interest.

But Bag Man, do they have the right to engage in "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"? Of course they have a right to defend themselves against the smuggling charges, in court. But by removing Section 107(B), these companies can't even be charged with wrongdoing, and they are effectively being given a green light to engage in the smuggling activities they're accussed of.

Add to that this charge from the article: "Over a decade, this translated into hundreds of millions of dollars in profits for the tobacco companies, while many of Colombia’s own tobacco farmers were forced out of business, and shifted into producing that country’s other famous crop: coca. Nor is that the only link between the drug trade and the cigarette trade: U.S. and Colombian law enforcement officials told me that the cigarette smugglers with whom the tobacco companies did business were actually engaged in the laundering of profits from drug sales in the United States. And that, assert the Colombians and Europeans in their lawsuit, also constitutes money laundering." This while the government is running TV ads claiming that drug money supports terrorism!

Monkeying with the law that is intended to protect our national security, in what is described as a time of war, in order to protect companies that are accussed of smuggling and money laundering, is reprehensible, IMO. And it looks like it was done so Oxley, DeLay and the White House could protect their campaign contributions which may have come from said smuggling and money laundering activities.
posted by homunculus at 1:42 PM on June 13, 2002


Gosh, I didn't realize my brief post conveyed so much about my opinions about the tobacco industry and my (mis)understanding about the proposed money laundering regulations.

My point was a little simpler: when big business wants something from our government, they tend to have little trouble finding someone to give it to them. Citizens aren't so lucky.

The linked article would indicate that while the tobacco companies are acting in their self-interest, which they have a right to do, what they're seeking to protect is sleazy business practice.

Don't we have something in reverse here? The government oversteps its bounds to violate personal freedom to offer the mere illusion that we're safe, yet going after money laundering (which would certainly harm terrorists more than shaking down our citizens) can't be done because of the harm to big business.

Buying gas (and apparently now tobacco) supports terrorism more than buying weed.
posted by troybob at 5:51 PM on June 13, 2002


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