What Time Is It? (Terrorism) Tool Time!

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Last month, the SEC put up links on its website to every company filing that mentions business conducted with the U.S. designated "State Sponsors of Terrorism," or Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria. We covered it here. The most common "offenders" were banks, consumer products companies, natural resource companies and Nokia.
There were even five companies linked to business in North Korea: Biotech Holdings Ltd, China Yuchai International Ltd, Credit Suisse Group Ltd, HSBC Holdings PLC and Siemens Aktiengesellschaft (Gesundheit).
Last week, Barney Frank, Chair of the House Committee on Financial Services dissed the SEC Terror Tool, and SEC Chairman Chris Cox took the thing down on Friday. Here's an overview of the official SEC statement, from the AAO Weblog:

On Friday, the SEC took the tool away from investors [you can take the tool out of the investor, but you can't take the investor out of the tool]. According to a statement by Chairman Christopher Cox, it will return [more powerful than you can ever imagine] with more up-to-date information [and a different colored light saber]. That carries the implication that the tool will corral information [and livestock] from 10-Qs as well as 10-Ks. (The original tool extracted data from only 10-Ks.) Cox also hinted that [he might be going commando] the tool might evolve into an XBRL project [the bonobo of projects] - and that “the Commission staff will also consider whether to recommend a Concept Release on the question of how best to make public company disclosure of activities in terrorist states more accessible [a new thrill ride]. The release would solicit public comment in a formal way [leave a card in the SEC comment box on the way out], so that the Commission could ensure that all legitimate concerns can be met [if Applebees and IHOP merge, do the terrorists win?] while providing better access to company disclosures on these topics [the last three sentences don't mean anything].”

Basically, in a mess of gloriously fuzzy obfuscation, the tool has been shelved. It doesn't make much sense that the existing site had to be completely eliminated on an interim basis. Even if Frank thought that the site was inaccurate, it did point to the actual segments of company filings that mentioned the designated countries. We're thinking maybe a simple disclaimer would have sufficed - "Just because Nokia is the mobile carrier of choice for terrorists doesn't mean that you shouldn't buy a new Nokia N75."
The SEC Pulls Its “Terrorism Tool” [The AAO Weblog]

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