Assessing the U.S. campaign to choke off Osama bin Laden's finances
THE MONEY TRAIL
PROS: The U.S. and other countries have frozen $56 million allegedly owned by bin Laden, the Taliban, their associates, and businesses or charities that back al Qaeda.
CONS: U.S. and foreign banks are ill-equipped to ferret out small transfers and routine transactions to uncover active terrorists or head off operations underway.
PROS: 120 countries including such privacy havens as Switzerland, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas, and the United Arab Emirates, have blocked assets of suspect groups.
CONS: As the U.S. Treasury's list of suspects grows, foreign banks and some governments are demanding more evidence to support seizures of funds.
PROS: Patriot Act gives Treasury stronger tools to stop cash imports, block assets during investigations, and cut off foreign banks that don't cooperate in probes.
CONS: Banks fear a grab bag of anti-money-laundering proposals will boost costs and erode privacy without stopping terrorists' transactions.