Killing liberty: Government wants more power to spy on bank accounts

Government power to spy on bank accounts

When it comes to killing liberty and advancing tyranny, the tragic events of 9/11 gave government the excuse it needed to launch a countless number of Orwellian programs, including programs to spy on Americans in the name of “safety and security.” From our cell phones to our bank accounts, nothing has been off limits when it comes to Washington’s unquenchable thirst for more power over our daily lives.

In response to 9/11, government gave us the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Patriot Act, the Patriot Act II, spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), and fake cell towers to tap your cell phone. These and many other attacks on liberty began under George W. Bush, grew under Barack Obama, and expanded under Donald Trump.

In a piece I wrote in 2017 commemorating 9/11, I documented the host of ways that Trump kept Bush’s and Obama’s terrorism policies in place. Under Trump’s “leadership,” the US Cyber Command was created within the NSA — an idea originally proposed by Obama — to give the agency greater power to spy on Americans. Trump and the GOP are also responsible for the reauthorization of FISA-702, giving the NSA authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on Americans.

A little known and often overlooked provision in the PATRIOT Act was a change made to the 1970 Bank Secrecy Act. Under the change, new standards were established for banks to identify customers, maintain records, requiring them to report cash transactions over $10,000.

Allegedly, this change was intended to prevent the funding of terrorist activities. In reality, it has resulted in a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure and the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of due process.

But the government isn’t just after power, it’s after absolute power.

Recently, I documented how coronavirus hysteria has been used by tyrants in government to expand 9/11 powers, and now we’re learning of a proposal that would give the Federal Government more power to spy on bank accounts.

In an article for by Andrea O’Sullivan (Director of the Center for Technology and Innovation at the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, FL), we get all the liberty-killing details.

If you give an agent a surveillance program, he will try to expand it. This is the case with the many legally questionable financial reporting requirements sprung forth from the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (BSA), which is kind of like the PATRIOT Act for money.

Most recently, the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department have proposed expanding what is called the “travel rule” to capture international funds transfers above $250.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say someone wants to send $5,000 to someone else in the U.S. or abroad. That person goes to their bank and tells them where they’d like to send the money. The bank, by law, must collect, store, and send certain identifying data to the receiving financial institution, including the name, address, and account information for the sender and receiver. This data must be passed along intermediary financial institutions and stored for at least five years. It isn’t immediately shared with the government unless it is determined to be “suspicious” enough to trigger Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) requirements under the BSA. In other words: banks must keep this data on hand in case the government needs it.

These surveilled people are suspected of no crime, nor are they given any opportunity to opt out of this data collection. Still, the government preemptively requires that their transactions be tagged and tracked as if they had done something wrong.

The threat of government involvement is apparent. It has effectively deputized banks to keep treasure troves of transaction data on hand in case it should become useful. (emphasis mine)

O’Sullivan explains how, in addition to killing liberty, there are practical problems with giving government more power to spy on bank accounts.

The many problems with America’s financial surveillance system are apparent, setting aside these grave threats to our personal privacy. It creates compliance and hacking risks for institutions that must store this data. And it doesn’t even work very well. Criminals are routinely able to get the finance they need despite this web of data tracking. Meanwhile, innocent people may have trouble making transactions or get caught in the hassle of some overzealous agent. It’s a big mess.

O’Sullivan concludes that perhaps it’s time for the Supreme Court to once again examine the legality of these post-9/11 surveillance programs, and I would like to agree with her. However, with the current tyrannical ambitions of the Republican/Democrat duopoly along with a Supreme Court’s recent history of judicial tyranny, I’m not all that certain it will stop government the tyrants in Washington from killing liberty.

In the end, the only hope we have to take back the liberty we’ve lost is to commit ourselves to continue fighting for life, freedom, religious liberty, the UNINFRINGED right of every American to keep and bear arms, our founding principles, limited government, fiscal, social, and constitutional conservatism, family values, traditional marriage, and Judeo-Christian values.

Failure to make this commitment will cost us more than we realize.


David Leach is the owner of the Strident Conservative. He holds people of every political stripe accountable for their failure to uphold conservative values, and he promotes those values instead of political parties.

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