CIA, NSA could soon have unfettered access to Americans’ financial info

By   /   March 14, 2013  /   No Comments

By Eric Boehm |

HARRISBURG – The Obama Administration is preparing new policies that would give the Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency broad new powers to access Americans’ financial records, according to Reuters.

THE NEXT FRONT: In the ever-growing War on Terror.

THE NEXT FRONT: In the ever-growing War on Terror.

The FBI already has access to a national database where banks list “suspicious financial transactions” that could include money laundering and counterfeiting, but the so-called “intelligence agencies” like the CIA and NSA have to make case-by-case requests for data from banks and other financial institutions.

That could soon change, according to the U.K.-based news agency, which reviewed a draft of new rules from the Treasury Department:

The proposed plan represents a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence. The plan, which legal experts say is permissible under U.S. law, is nonetheless likely to trigger intense criticism from privacy advocates….

…The Treasury plan would give spy agencies the ability to analyze more raw financial data than they have ever had before, helping them look for patterns that could reveal attack plots or criminal schemes…

…A Treasury spokesperson said U.S. law permits FinCEN to share information with intelligence agencies to help detect and thwart threats to national security, provided they adhere to safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act. “Law enforcement and intelligence community members with access to this information are bound by these safeguards,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Remember, the CIA and NSA – in theory at least – are supposed to operate outside the United States and not turn their prying, spying eyes on U.S. citizens.  Since law enforcement, which is supposed to operate in the country, already has access to this data, why do these agencies have to have it too?

The answer, of course, is national security – the catch-all excuse for nearly every expansion of governmental powers in the last decade.

Rick Moran, at The American Thinker, comes to the same conclusion and says this sounds like it’s going a bit too far.

Boehm is a civil liberties reporter for and bureau chief for PA Independent.  He can be reached at


Eric is a reporter for and former bureau chief for Pennsylvania Independent. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he enjoys great weather and low taxes while writing about state governments, pensions, labor issues and economic/civil liberty. Previously, he worked for more than three years in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, covering Pennsylvania state politics and occasionally sneaking across the border to Delaware to buy six-packs of beer. He has also lived (in order of desirability) in Brussels, Belgium, Pennsburg, Pa., Fairfield, Conn., and Rochester, N.Y. His work has appeared in Reason Magazine, National Review Online, The Freeman Magazine, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Examiner and elsewhere. He received a bachelor's degree from Fairfield University in 2009, but he refuses to hang on his wall until his student loans are fully paid off sometime in the mid-2020s. When he steps away from the computer, he enjoys drinking craft beers in classy bars, cheering for an eclectic mix of favorite sports teams (mostly based in Philadelphia) and traveling to new places.


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