Schumer: Restore terrorist program funding

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The U.S. Treasury Department should save a program that tracks the financial transactions of suspected terrorists -- like would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad -- and drug dealers, elected officials said Thursday.

"One of the ways to track crime, whether they be drug crimes or terrorism, is to follow the money," U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said at a news conference at Nassau Police Department's Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Center in Massapequa Park.

Flanked by Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, Nassau Police Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder and Matthew Rosen, deputy director of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's financial crime task force, Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged the federal government to continue to allow local police departments nationwide access to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

To cut costs, the Treasury Department has proposed trimming the $1.35-million program from its next budget.

"We're calling on Treasury to reverse themselves," he said.

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Officials said the program gives local law enforcement a powerful database to see how suspected criminals move money to fund -- and hide -- their activities. The database was tapped in the case of Shahzad, who Schumer said received money in Ronkonkoma from an overseas account before the May 1 attempted attack.

Local law enforcement was able to track that transaction and nab Shahzad, who was sentenced to life in prison last October for trying to set off explosives in an sport utility vehicle.

Spota said eliminating the network "is an absolute blow to law enforcement," adding that he relies on the database in every major investigation.

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