Tracking terrorist finances: The SWIFT program and the American Anti-Terrorist Finance Regime

David Bruce Bulloch


This article examines the political and legislative history of a formerly classified anti-terrorist finance program initiated in the days after 9/11 that subpoenaed millions of financial records from the Belgian-based Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT) without the knowledge of European authorities.  The European outrage in response to its public disclosure in 2006 — and the subsequent struggle to generate support for the continuation of the program — has been interpreted by many as further evidence of a strategic divide concerning American and European efforts to thwart terrorism.  This research will investigate the dramatic changes to the American anti-terrorist finance regime after 9/11, and will demonstrate that the European reluctance to cooperate with this program represents a fundamental disagreement concerning the prioritization of privacy rights rather than an unwillingness to take the steps necessary to combat the financing of terror.


War on Terror; Surveillance; Financial Regulation; Privacy; Transatlantic Cooperation

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Copyright (c) 2011 David Bruce Bulloch

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