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Le Monde, France

The United States and
Europe Bury the “Swift Affair”

Translated By Rami Assadi

17 February 2009

Edited by Annie Moulton

France - Le Monde - Original Article (French)

It had begun like any other transatlantic conflict, and ended, officially, with a peaceable reconciliation. The American Terrorist Finance Tracking Program (TFTP) will no longer be a source of tension between Washington and Brussels. It should have served its official purpose, and not quite illegally, been used to observe the movements of thousands of people regardless of laws protecting their privacy.

In June 2006, the American press revealed, despite the protestations of the Republican Administration, that the CIA had developed a clandestine program to control bank dealings done by both Americans and foreigners. Swiftly thereafter, the Treasury Department was forced to admit the existence of the TFTP. It had in its sights the Swift society, based in the Brussels suburb, which maintained a secure network used by some 8,000 banking establishments worldwide to exchange daily 6,000 billion dollars. Insane at the time, Swift voluntarily gave up the desired information. It would be forced to respond to judicial injunctions.

Secret Investigation

The scandal would take such a large scope that the European Union thus took control over obtained information. In March 2008, after many ambiguous statements, the Bush administration admitted that an “eminent European personality” had taken control of the investigation. She refused several candidates, but not the former antiterrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière.

Appointed for two years, Mr. Burguière presented his first report to Civil Liberties Committee of European Parliament on Monday, February 16. The investigation was classified “secret” because it contained information that the Americans deemed essential to several terrorism cases; so understood the Europeans. And it absolved the Treasury Department.

It [they] would extract only what was necessary, destroy what was deemed to be non-pertinent, and respect the maximum delay for conservation of obtained information. Jean-Louis Brugiuère is said to have had access to Washington, to all involved persons, all facts, and all wanted sites. “I was not deceived,” he said. And he was certain that the guarantees offered by the United States were real and “could be unprecedented.” Additionally, that the secret services had not taken the opportunity to engage, in passing, in economic espionage.

“Our partnership with Washington has reached, in the domain of the finance of terror, at least a satisfactory level,” concluded Jacques Barrot, European Commissioner in charge of justice, liberty, and security. In Parliament, however, some continued to question what would have happened if the American press had not revealed the secret practices spanning the four years, unknown to the political powers in the Union.



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