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Obama Administration To Allow All Spy Agencies To Scour Americans' Finances 405

New submitter KrisJon writes "The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters. Financial institutions that operate in the United States are required by law to file reports of 'suspicious customer activity.' A move like the FinCEN proposal 'raises concerns as to whether people could find their information in a file as a potential terrorist suspect without having the appropriate predicate for that and find themselves potentially falsely accused,' said Sharon Bradford Franklin, senior counsel for the Rule of Law Program at the Constitution Project, a non-profit watchdog group."
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Obama Administration To Allow All Spy Agencies To Scour Americans' Finances

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  • by Sparticus789 ( 2625955 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:45PM (#43163585) Journal

    Hope and "look at all that change left in your bank account"

    I'm Barack Obama, and I approve this message.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:38PM (#43164277)

      We really need some sane opposition to the Democrats. With the Republicans completely bonkers on superstition and bigotry, we accept too many negatives from the Democrats.

  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:47PM (#43163609)

    and some duct-tape at your local Home Depot, and I guarantee you you'll be flagged as a terrorist. Thinking of paying for things in cash to avoid that? That looks suspicious too these days.

    Welcome to the Vater^H^H^H^H^HHomeland Americans. Enjoy your civil liberties while you can...

    • by Sloppy ( 14984 )

      That would be awesome to do just for the fun of adding a false positive, but then I realized I have no damn use for the propane. I grill with charcoal (tastes better; sorry, Hank Hill). I hate the police state as much as anyone, but you're talking about wasting money! Let's not get carried away.

  • And you said... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    ..."not like it can get any worse".

  • by pecosdave ( 536896 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:48PM (#43163619) Homepage Journal

    somewhere, and he wants it!

    Obama administration - making sure you're broke and enforcing it in every way possible!
    (unless you're a campaign contributor of course, then you get "stimulus")

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 )

      Careful dude, every time I mention Obama treating private property like communal property, I get down-modded.

      Besides, all this communism can't pay for itself!

      • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo ( 1000167 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:27PM (#43164139)
        You keep using that word. [Communism] I do not think it means what you think it means.
        • or perhaps (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @06:59PM (#43165107)

          you have such a short attention span that you do not see trends if they advance slowly enough.

          This nation is already NOTHING like what it was in the 1960's.

          • There was no such thing as "hate speech"... you were free to speak your mind and others were free to dislike what you said. In Communist nations, people are generally intimidated into self-regulating their speech; this is a related behavior.
          • "Politically correct" speech only existed in Communist countries. People would tell you something false (like "there's plenty of toilet paper at the store") and quietly say that this was obviously false but that it was "politically correct" (i.e. the people in power said it was so, so naturally it was important to parrot the line). Americans used to laugh at this tragic irrationality imposed upon people in totalitarian nations. Now we have it here. It is a necessity in communist systems.
          • You used to be able to run into an airport on a whim, buy a one-way ticket for cash, run to the gate and board the plane carrying nearly anything that would fit in the overhead bin. No Microwaves, no X-Rays, no grope-fests, no metal detectors, etc. Planes were not falling from the skies. Now a visit to an airport looks like a visit to a 1960's Moscow train station; you stand in line like cattle ... you cannot shake the feeling that there's a Progressive "Political Officer" somewhere nearby keeping an eye on everything....
          • Americans used to live in a "free market" system... you could use any amount of water or energy you wanted as long as you paid for it. If you used larger amounts, you got a volume discount. Now, because luddites have intimidated government and business entities into not building enough power plants and water plants political considerations have infected everything (as happens in communist nations) and so we no longer have all the power and water we need... so big brother keeps propagandizing us to use LESS and the rates for use go UP with volume (the opposite of what happens in free markets). Our children are propagandized to view business as evil and businessmen as selfish and greedy
          • Americans used to get excellent and affordable healthcare; doctors used to make house calls. As government has become more-involved, access has become more difficult and costs have spiraled. When govt gives "free" healthcare to illegal aliens, and promises to give seniors X care (and claims credit for providing it) but only pays hospitals and doctors 0.5X, those costs get added to the bills of the people with private insurance, which must then raise rates. The people get mad at the private insurers for the rate increases, and Obama has played this masterfully to get the dumbest slice of the public to vote for communist healthcare... which is what they'll get after the interim step of Obamacare (which is not designed to be a sustainable permanent solution, but rather to destroy private healthcare and leave people with healthcare needs but no private infrastructure)
          • Americans used to be able to take a couple thousand dollars and start a business in a garage that could grow into an empire (think HP, or Apple). Now, with all the thousands of regulations and all the bureaucracies (run by czars, no less) this is becoming very difficult; it's easier to get a government job, and the pay and benefits are now better in government than in the private sector (this was never true before in the U.S.)
          • Americans used to have full constitutional rights, including with guns. Lots of kids took guns to school (some because they had shooting clubs there, some because they were going hunting after school, some because they had been hunting before school, and some simply because the guns were with their other stuff or in their cars/trucks and it simply would not occur to them that the presence of a gun was any issue to anybody. Now our government-run schools are kicking kids out or having their mental health checked if they draw a picture of a gun or use their fingers and thumbs like a
    • by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:22PM (#43164085)

      You can always call up Romney and ask him which Island Bank he's keeping his money in. That way it'll be safe from prying eyes, including the worlds largest and most vicious collection agency the IRS.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Obama Treasury dude Jack Lew [] knows where to hide his cash

        DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz [] knows where to hide hers

        Obama's pal and advisor Valerie Jarrett [] seems to like Bermuda for her cash

        Nancy Pelosi [] Seems to like hiding her money in asia (see: Matthews International Capital Management LLC)

        And then Obama himself [] seems to like parking cash in the Cayman Islands

        The truth is that the political class lives by a very different set of rules than the rest of us and if you think Democrats are any more "for the

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:49PM (#43163641) Journal

    I better see them shine!

  • by Forever Wondering ( 2506940 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:50PM (#43163653)

    Just asking ...

    • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:18PM (#43164037)

      Classic 4th amendment, but the 4th has been raped for about 30 years now in the name of the War on Drugs with no complaints. NYC allows stop-and-frisk which is by the letter a violation of the 4th as are most unwarranted searches by law enforcement. It's simple, you can't search me, my house, my car, or my records without a warrant. But, every time a big bad drug dealer gets away "on a technicality" people agree to turn the other way and allow laws to encroach just a bit further on our rights.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Just asking ...

      Your question implies the invalid assumption that the constitution is still followed.

    • by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <> on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:38PM (#43164273) Homepage Journal

      When Obama ran for President the first time around, he promised repeatedly to end warantless wiretapping and protect our privacy. During the same campaign, he actually voted as a senator to extend warantless wiretapping. When called out on this outright lie, he said he no choice, because the bill would pass either way. Frankly, this is a stupid excuse. If it would pass either way, what harm would there be in being honest and voting against it like he said he would?

      Then once in the White House, one of his first Executive Orders was actually to extend the power of the program. We also know have warrantless GPS tracking and spy drones over US soil.

      The argument for voting for Obama was in theory that we couldn't afford a Republican candidate because they would do these things. The reality is that blinding voting either party often turns out bad.

      Look at the records of the past three Presidents and you'll see that they don't fall into traditional party stereotypes:

      George W. Bush
      * He spent like mad and created new government bureacracy (Homeland Security). A Republican spent more and supported Bigger Government.
      * Created a tax credit for solar panels and hybrid cars. A Republican was anti-oil and pro-environment.
      * Increased stem cell research. Pro-science (and Republicans are supposed to be anti-stem-cells!)
      * Increased NASA budget. Pro-science!
      * Passed clean air and water acts in his first 100 days (after Clinton promised to for 8 years and didn't)
      * Penalized US automakers who didn't make hybrids
      * Pushed for higher fuel economy standards (Democrats pushed a much weaker version that Bush called for and oddly enough Obama fully supported Bush as a senator on this)
      * Helped prevent a war in Liberia and negotiated for a dictator to step down without bullets being fired
      * Argued immediately after 9/11 that we not blame Iraq and argued that people who were calling for war in Iraq should wait for facts to come out
      * Supported an open/transparent commission to study 9/11 with the full report being released to the public

      Before him, Clinton:

      * Bombed 4 countries without asking Congress for approval
      * Compromised with Newt Gingrinch to cut government spending to balance the budget. Yep, a Democrat worked towards smaller government.
      * Refused to push through clean air/water acts that were written and just waiting for a push despite promising to do so
      * Declared "banks were too big to fail" and pushed for what was then considered an illegal merger with Citbank and Travellers Insurance (by getting rid of the Glass-Steagall law thusly now making it legal). After this, Citigroup hired a bunch of politicians as lobbyists, and Clinton appointed Citigroup employees to government positions. Seriously.
      * Was accused of undisclosed massive donations not only from corporations that he hid, but also from the Chinese government. Hillary Clinton was then later also caught taking donations from the Chinese government. Seriously.


      * Refused to release the White House emails he promised to release when in office (despite all these claims of transparency)
      * Filled his cabinet with lobbyists after promising no Washington old-guard and no lobbyists
      * Screams about paying taxes when half his cabinet has been busted for not paying taxes
      * Supported an additional bail out with no real controls on how the money was handled by big banks, allowing CEOs who created the crisis to steal tax payer dollars
      * Refused to disclose where his big online campaign donations came from and won't support campaign transparency
      * Created warrantless GPS tracking and has spy drones on US soil
      * Promised to close Gitmo
      * His means of ending detainee torture was to order prisoners to be killed rather than kept in war. Real humane there.
      * Sent troops to Libya and Yemen when both Congress and the public opposed it
      * Cut NASA funding and cancelled missions

      If you dig deeper into other politicians, you'll see this all the time. Harry Reid is one

    • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:42PM (#43164323) Journal

      Fourth Admentment Anyone? Just asking ...

      Which of *YOUR* papers and effects are being searched, hmm...? What's being searched is the *GOVERNMENT'S* papers and effects, or possibly the banks'. This is not a Fourth Amendment issue.

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @06:35PM (#43164881) Homepage

      Oh come on, you think the government is paying any attention to that old piece of paper? For reference, here's the status of the Bill of Rights:

      • First Amendment - Completely gone. Protesters are beaten and maced by police, people are investigated and harassed for what they say on the Internet, political organizations are routinely infiltrated by government agents, people have been spied on and rounded up solely for practicing a particular religion, some religions receive special government funding,
      • Second Amendment - Severely restricted.
      • Third Amendment - Well, they haven't tried to quarter troops in people's homes in a long time. It's kinda quaint anyways: Why bother doing that when you can spy or blow up people's homes from far away.
      • Fourth Amendment - Gone. This latest article is just publicizing what they're already doing, namely electronically spying on everyone in the United States (Hello, NSA, by the way). And you can toss in the TSA searches, the border searches, the searches of people less than 100 miles from a border, and the recent complaints from police in Oregon and Colorado that they can no longer pull someone over on a slight pretext and search the vehicle by claiming to smell pot.
      • Fifth Amendment - Gone. Anwar al-Awlaki being the most obvious example, but you can also look at the routine harassment and even criminal prosecution of lawyers who defend certain people in court.
      • Sixth Amendment - Gone. Bradley Manning, enough said.
      • Seventh Amendment - Gone. In contracts between corporations and individuals, the courts have repeatedly ruled that the corporations can insist upon binding arbitration, with the arbitrator determined by the corporation. In other words, there's a second parallel legal system for anything important where one side gets to pick the judge.
      • Eighth Amendment - Gone. In addition to the aforementioned Bradley Manning, you can also look at Yaser Hamdi and Jose Padilla, both US citizens thrown into Gitmo for many years without trial, where they were apparently tortured.
      • Ninth Amendment - Are you kidding me?
      • Tenth Amendment - Are you kidding me?
  • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:50PM (#43163655)

    Total surveillance is the road to hell. Once the people have reached a suitable level of fear, those in power can do anything and everything. It does not take long to start killing off those deemed "undesired". Or better, lock them up and have the other pay for that. Already happening? Maybe the US voters are asleep at the wheel?

    • Maybe the US voters are asleep at the wheel?

      How you can you accuse them of being asleep at thw wheel when both the parties they can choose do the same sort of shenanigans? The only option they seem to have is the face on the TV that tells them nice stories while at the same time stripping away their civil liberties.

      • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:02PM (#43163833)

        How you can you accuse them of being asleep at thw wheel when both the parties they can choose do the same sort of shenanigans?

        Newsflash: there are more than 2 parties in the US []. Most Americans are too uneducated or too brainwashed by television to realize that though...

        So no, the voting public isn't asleep at the wheel, more like sitting dazed and dribbling in complete stupor in front of it.

      • by gagol ( 583737 )
        Other parties exist. It is the very twisted ideology of voting for the "winner" to "win" your election not unlike reality tv shows instead of voting with your heart. Add to that the medias who only cover the two flavors of corporate dictatorial parties to protect their friends and interest and you have a completely sick and twisted "democracy". Good luck with that, I am moving to sealand!
    • Maybe the US voters are asleep at the wheel?

      You just noticed? How quaint.

      There hasn't been a totally honest or sane US president since Eisenhower...

    • by csumpi ( 2258986 )
      "It does not take long to start killing off those deemed "undesired"."

      Since Eric Holder says that it's legal to use drones to target US citizens on US soil, the roadblocks to accomplish just that seem to have been cleared.
      • by gweihir ( 88907 )

        Indeed. The process of establishing a "Reich" in the US is going far slower than the Germans managed it (after all, the Germans are far more effective at starting things than anybody else, they just have some trouble with finishing things, see, e.g., the two world wars they started), but it is well on its way. All the danger signs are there:
        - Killing of citizens without oversight: Check.
        - Massive secret police and total surveillance: Check
        - Due process suspended whenever those in power feel like it: Check.

    • Wait--back up a minute here. I can understand that this topic in general is a stimulus for conversation about why the US government is a lot like Soviet Russia, but, it isn't like what we're hearing in this article is particularly revolutionary or surprising. What it says is that financial institutions have been required for a long time to report suspicious activity or accounts to the Department of the Treasury. This database has been accessible to the FBI all along. This was set up because the governme

  • Cue the apologists (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lord Kano ( 13027 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:52PM (#43163677) Homepage Journal

    What's it going to take for people to realize that Obama is just as bad as and in many ways worse than Bush?

    I swear, Obama could issue an executive order mandating that they suck a dick and the apologists would just shrug and say "Yeah, but Bush would have made us swallow!"

    It would be grand if people only had to live with the consequences of the policies they support.


    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:12PM (#43163965)

      What's it going to take for people to realize that Obama is just as bad as and in many ways worse than Bush?

      I swear, Obama could issue an executive order mandating that they suck a dick and the apologists would just shrug and say "Yeah, but Bush would have made us swallow!"

      It would be grand if people only had to live with the consequences of the policies they support.


      It would be even nicer if people understood that we have this thing called Congress, and that THEY are the ones who passed the laws which require your bank to report this activity in the first place.

      "legal experts emphasize that this sharing of data is permissible under U.S. law. Specifically, banks' suspicious activity reporting requirements are dictated by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act"

      If you really must bitch, at least bitch about the right people. You retards are busy attacking what is essentially a Straw Man who will be gone forever in a few years, while the goons who actually are trashing your liberties keep getting elected term after term. It's not an especially clever plan, but it works every damn time... Congress gives power to the President to decide to implement an unpopular policy, he takes the blame and all you fucking idiots eat it up like candy.
      It's not the President's fucking budget, it's Congress's budget. It's not the President's Law... it's Congress's law. If you mental midgets can't figure this shit out it's never going to change.

      • Congress votes it yes, they are to blame just as much, but obama COULD veto, yet he wont. Besides the president is in charge, the one in charge is always held responsible.
    • by csumpi ( 2258986 )
      Even if people realize it, doesn't matter. In 2015 they'll throw some bones (like they did in 2011), run some ads tapping themselves on the shoulder and people will vote for them again. Attention span is too short to remember things that happened more than a couple weeks ago.
    • I won't say Obama isn't screwing up, but lets not forget what happened from 2001-2008.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:32PM (#43164197) Homepage Journal

      via Glenn Greenwald []:

      Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald)

      Posted Tuesday 12th March 2013 from Twitlonger

      The Progressive Mind (in some hyper-partisan precients):

      (1) Rand Paul holds numerous horrendous positions. Therefore, it is impermissible ever to agree with or support him on any one specific issue. The minute one agrees with him on any one issue, one is infected with all his other views, no matter how much one disagrees with those other views.

      (2) Barack Obama not only holds numerous horrendous positions, but actually does numerous heinous things (eg, [], [], [], []). Nonetheless, it is not only permissible - but mandatory - to support him not just on an issue-by-issue basis but for his general empowerment. One is free to support him and cheer for him without being infected by any of his heinous views and actions with which one disagrees.

      I would give a big prize to anyone who can come close to reconciling those lines of reasoning.

      It's extremely simple: you support politicians in those instances when you agree with their views, and oppose them in those instances when you disagree with those views.

      Literally, I could live to be 500 years old and never comprehend how so many progressives, who (by the way) reside in the reality-based community, are unwilling and/or unable to process this very basic proposition.

  • Why bother? (Score:2, Troll)

    by Hatta ( 162192 )

    We already know who the financial terrorists are that are the biggest threat to our economy and national security. And they're all Obama donors.

    Why does Obama need a financial monitoring network when he can't bother to throw Lloyd Blankfein in jail for well established fraud, perjury, and racketeering?

  • by prisoner-of-enigma ( 535770 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:58PM (#43163771) Homepage

    And people wonder why gun owners don't want the Feds to have a central database with all of our names, addresses, etc. in it. I'm all for background checks, but I'll be damned if I let the government develop a database they can "scour" like this for whatever purposes they deem fit in some nebulous future where the party I trust the *least* is in power.

  • Misleading Headline (Score:5, Informative)

    by Que914 ( 1042204 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @04:58PM (#43163773)
    While I don't really approve of this change it's not nearly as bad as the headline suggests. This doesn't mean that the CIA will have instant access to your bank transactions. Banks are required to file reports for specific suspicious conditions that are associated with money laundering and other financial scams. What they're talking about is giving the other agencies unfettered access to the database (FBI already has unfettered access).

    Not good news, but not nearly as bad as it sounds.
  • by Githaron ( 2462596 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:02PM (#43163829)
    Exactly why are transactions over $10,000 considered suspicious and cataloged by the government?
    • by mjr167 ( 2477430 )
      I don't know. My in-laws needed 100k to buy a house so they got 10 10k cashier's checks from the bank cause the teller couldn't give them one check for more than 10k...
      • That's not true. I've taken out a cashier's check far in excess of $10K without any issue.

      • I don't know. My in-laws needed 100k to buy a house so they got 10 10k cashier's checks from the bank cause the teller couldn't give them one check for more than 10k...

        That is probably a bank policy and has nothing to do with suspicious transactions. You can go to the bank and ask for $100k in cash and, if they have it, they can legally give it to you. You just have to fill out a bunch of paperwork for any transaction greater than $9999.99. The purpose is to help combat money laundering. Its a whole heck of a lot harder to move around a bunch of cash if you can only deal with $9999.99 of it at a time. Or you just go out and buy a casino, which can easily launder hund

    • That's been the "OMG it must be for drugz" cut-off since the War on Drugs started.

    • Exactly why are transactions over $10,000 considered suspicious and cataloged by the government?

      However, transactions over $10,000,000 will not be reported by the bank to the government. If you have that kind of money to push around, you are an important and profitable customer, and the bank will use all kinds of bizarre financial instruments to ensure that the Feds never get a whiff of the transaction.

      Hell, if you tell the bank that you want to burn down their building, they will give you a match.

    • Re:$10,000 (Score:5, Informative)

      by hierofalcon ( 1233282 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:39PM (#43164293)
      Like most other government legislated thresholds, it hasn't been adjusted for inflation. It would be around $59,350 if it had been adjusted as computed by an online inflation calculator using 1970 (Bank Secrecy Act passage) as the base year. That's still low, but more reasonable than $10,000.
  • Huh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ira Sponsible ( 713467 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:05PM (#43163879) Journal
    I just always assumed they were already doing this.
  • And all your finance are belong to us.

    Seriously -- is there anyone here who doesn't see yet
    that the worst turns that history could make (in many
    respects), it made /because/ Obama came along?

  • Priorities, people. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xyourfacekillerx ( 939258 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:35PM (#43164221)

    Spy agencies are still not allowed to share most intelligence information arbitrarily, whether the subject is domestic or not. These roadblocks ensure the safety and reliability of each agency's intel, and provide confidence in policy decisions based on that intel (legislative, military, etc).

    But spy agencies already could look at your financial information, independently. That is not a concern to me. Smart citizens already know Obomacare provides a stipulation that states, payments made electronically to health providers constitutes a waiver for the federal government to examine that individual's financial accounts from the bank who disbursed to the health provider. (So you have to pay in cash if you don't want the feds digging into your financial records because of a sore throat.)

    What is a concern is that the intel each agency now has the access to that financial information regardless. And this concerns me because it can easily be used against a citizen. Say, you're behind on your student loans, the government can check your bank account, determine that you have funds to pay a monthly minimum they've decided you ought to pay, then they can order your physician not to provide health care to prevent you from spending that money on the doctor, ... basically they won't LET you get your health care until you've paid your other dues...

    Another cause for concern is that, well, the agencies are using the same intel. that's a bad paradigm. In the intel world, redundancy and duplication of data is a good thing. Unlike in computer science land, in intel, that kind of thing actually encourages data accuracy and confidence, it reduces the possibility of tampering, and is a specific tactical tool in international anti-intel. (Think about it like this: Texas Hold 'Em wouldn't be an easier game to beat if all the players didn't share a deck and also share a hand. And if an attacker manipulates the deck, all players are equally affected.)

    So I'm wondering. What is the priority my government has to monitor my financial data? And why is it so important that all spy agencies need to share that data, from one single source, when they already were allowed to collect that data independently as their investigation warranted? Is this about stopping crime or is it about providing means to extract every cent from every citizen? If the government was having trouble tracking drug cartel finances before, how is this supposed to help? The cartels were already beating the system. So it affects the bad guys zero, and the good guys by one. Really, what is the priority here?

  • geeze... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Wednesday March 13, 2013 @05:41PM (#43164315) Journal

    Is there any room at all in this discussion for "this is wrong, regardless of whether the President has an "R" or a "D" after his name"?

"You can have my Unix system when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." -- Cal Keegan