Report: A U.S. Treasury Intelligence Department Has Been ‘Spying’ On U.S. Citizens’ Financial Records

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The U.S. Treasury Department, specifically its intelligence division, has been conducting a program of “domestic spying,” including accessing American citizens’ financial records, sometimes for other intelligence agencies, according to reports observed by Buzzfeed News

Reportedly, officials at the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN, a bank regulator that combats crimes like money laundering and tracks information in a regularly updated database) have repeatedly warned (dating back to the Obama administration) of the issue. That is, that officials at the Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) — which is tasked with monitoring suspicious financial activity that occurs outside the U.S. — are “illegally collecting and retaining domestic financial information from the banking database.” Here’s more:

Some sources have also charged that OIA analysts have, in a further legal breach, been calling up financial institutions to make inquiries about individual bank accounts and transactions involving US citizens. Sources said the banks have complied with the requests because they are under the impression they are giving the information to FinCEN, which they are required to do.

Moreover, the OIA has allowed officers from other intelligence agencies, like the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, to temporarily transfer to the OIA for short periods of time and gain “unrestricted access to information on US citizens that they otherwise could not collect without strict oversight.”

Some treasury officials called the OIA’s actions “domestic spying” and “an invasion of privacy.” Under a Reagan-era executive order, for intelligence agencies to operate within the United States and collect information on U.S. citizens, they must set up and follow strict guidelines to protect the civil rights of Americans. These guidelines have to be approved by the Attorney General and director of national intelligence before the agency can conduct operations. The OIA has never completed this process.

After officials at FinCEN pointed out that the OIA was doing this, FinCEN was cut off from various classified networks. As such, FinCEN has been hindered from helping law enforcement during several events, which also prevented it from “fully complying” with the Senate’s Russia probe.

(Via BuzzFeed News)