Thursday, June 22, 2006

Feds Checking Bank Data Without Warrants Or Subpoenas

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON, June 22 - Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas or into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.


The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of sensitive data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

"The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "The potential for abuse is enormous."

I want to ask one question from my right-wing friends about some of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism pograms: if this were the Clinton administration listening to domestic phone calls without warrants, tracking hundreds of billions of other phone calls and collating the info into one big-ass database, holding "terror suspects" in perpetuity without ever bringing charges against them, and tracking the financial information of Americans without warrants, would you still support these programs?

God, this is driving me nuts...insane even. I can't believe they are doing it..and getting away w/it..under the guise of the war on friggin terror.
What bothers me most is the hypocrisy of some on the right who would be screaming "Black helicopters!" if this had been Janet Reno pulling this shit after, say, McVeigh.
If you read NCLB-Let's Get it Right today, they seem also to be checking blogs, including that one, mine, Edwize, and a few others, in cahoots with some anti-labor group.

You may be next.
In 1976 the Supreme Court in U.S. v. Miller found that bank customers had no legal right to privacy in financial information held by financial institutions. So, no need to invoke the name of God, just stop reading the Times, do some research & the truth will set you free!
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