War on the Dollar?

When I saw the headline for Oliver North’s column, “Secret War on the Dollar,” I thought it was about the Bush administration’s fiscal policies. Imagine my surprise when I found it wasn’t.

North writes that America’s enemies abroad have been making remarkably real-looking counterfeit U.S. currency. Here is the top of his article:

The potentates on the Potomac are now pondering the price-tag for saving Wall Street. Unfortunately, corrupt officials in other capitals are also hard at work undermining what’s left of the U.S. dollar – by printing and distributing their own versions of American currency.

Counterfeiting another nation’s legal tender is not only a crime – it is also an act of aggression. During World War II, Adolf Hitler produced British bank notes to destabilize England. Mao Tse Tung used phony money to undermine Chaing Kai Shek’s Nationalist government through inflation. The Soviets created passable replicas of African, European and other monetary instruments to damage local economies. But no one has ever engaged in this kind of economic warfare against the United States on a scale – or as effectively – as is now being waged by the regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran.

For more than five years remarkably accurate duplicates of U.S. $100 bills have been circulating overseas. Called “Supernotes” by our Treasury Department, Secret Service and FBI, they are printed on cotton-fiber paper using intaglio printing presses, the same type used by the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving. The source of these nearly flawless notes is hardly a secret.

On January 26, 2006 in a White House press conference, President Bush asserted that, “We are aggressively saying to the North Koreans…don’t counterfeit our money.” A Congressional Research Service Report two months later concluded that, “at least $45 million in such Supernotes of North Korean origin have been detected in circulation, and estimates are that the country earns from $15 to $25 million per year from counterfeiting.” Later that year, Hezbollah – a wholly owned subsidiary of the repressive regime in Tehran – began flooding Lebanon with Supernotes. Thanks to Iran and North Korea there may be billions in “phony Franklins” floating around the world. The bills have also turned up here at home.

Just how some of them arrived on our shores was revealed a few days ago – when former undercover FBI Agent Bob Hamer took the witness stand in the Las Vegas courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge James Mahan. While the so-called mainstream media were preoccupied with presidential politics, the Wall Street meltdown and the O.J. Simpson trial across the street, Hamer – using audio and video recordings – revealed how two Chinese nationals and others plotted to smuggle anti-aircraft missiles, narcotics and counterfeit Supernotes into the United States. On the tapes, the Chinese conspirators describe how the false bills are manufactured in North Korea and distributed through the Russian embassy in Beijing to Chinese organized crime figures. One of them boasts of his ties to North Korea.

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