Terrorists are more with us than we realize. Not because of their presence. But because of our fear of them. Imagine the leverage? Do something once to a relative few. Have the enemy institute costly defenses for their masses which continue to consume vast amounts of their resources for decades.
I spent about 4 hours today at the bank trying to get the accounts open for our various industry aggregation corporations. Now remember this is at a bank where they know me and I have several personal accounts and accounts for two other of my corporations. By the end of the day, I had answered all of their questions. Proved my identity to people who already knew me. Produced several documents for each corporation, including the Certificates of Incorporation from Delaware and the EIN SS-4's from the Federal government. And, by bank closing time, not one account had been opened.
Now you might think that all that time was required because, after all, I was opening ten corporate bank accounts, right? Well, not exactly. We were only dealing with one account at the time with a simple understanding that when we were finished, all of the other nine accounts would be exactly the same except for the corporate name.
The bad news is, after all of this time, no account had been opened and the bank closed for the day. The good news is that the bank finally acknowledged that they now had all of my requirements in order. And, that tomorrow they would prepare all of the bank documentation in my absence. I could simply reappear tomorrow afternoon, sign their paperwork, give them cash to deposit, and voila, the accounts would be open and active.
What used to take half an hour to an hour at most now took 4 hours with your guess as to how much more time tomorrow. The reason? Well blame it on The Patriot Act and its proliferation of regulation and scrutiny imposed on the rest of us through our bank.
Is it worth a little more time and inconvenience to make us all a little safer? Sure. But at the end of the day, I doubt that is the outcome. Why do I say this? Because nothing they did in that 4 hours would have prevented a terrorist from opening a corporate bank account. Nothing would have flagged the account, had it been opened by a terrorist, for the watchful eyes of Homeland Security. At the end of the day they still have the same copy of the Certificate of Incorporation that they would have had under the old less regulated system. They still have the same Federal EIN that they would have had under the old less regulated system. They still have my same driver’s license number that they would have had under the old less regulated system. So what did they have that took all that time and upon which so much value is placed and upon which so much future paperwork is to be generated? What they have is answers to a mountain of questions that cannot be validated by any means known to humankind. Questions to which any dedicated terrorist could manufacture answers that have no relevance to their intended activities and for which there exists no way to vet.
Terrorists will be caught in the same way they were caught before the imposition of all the new rules, paperwork and scrutiny. After the fact, something else will trigger an investigation. Some investigator will then follow the money trail to a suspect source or destination but only if the terrorist was so inept as to ignore the myriad of the ways there are to disguise the source and destination of funds through the back alleys of the world's money markets and cash bazaars.
Who is terrorized? Only you and me by our own well meaning would be protectors. The world goes on a little less efficient and no more safe.