On Friday, the U.S. Department of the Treasury confirmed, in a letter to Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), that the Treasury has been using political watchwords in searches during surveillance of the financial transactions of American citizens. Senator Scott is the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.
The Biden administration has confirmed that terms like “MAGA,” “Trump” and “Kamala” were included in the push by federal investigators for banks to surveil private financial transactions following the Jan. 6, 2021 protests at the U.S. Capitol, a letter obtained by Fox News Digital reveals.
The letter, sent Friday from the Treasury Department to Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, notes that “Exchange events” convened by its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, “began shortly after January 6 under the prior Administration,” and “included terms such as ‘antifa,’ ‘MAGA,’ ‘Trump,’ ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Schumer,’ and ‘Pelosi.’”
This marks the first time the Biden administration has gone on the record to confirm some of the keywords included in the Jan. 6-related surveillance.
The letter states in part:
No one specific word or transaction code included in these typologies was designed to be used in isolation to “flag” or “target” any individuals. Rather, to the extent key words or phrases were suggested, it was expected they would be used alongside other factors and data that banks regularly analyze as part of their AML programs to detect and report suspicious activity. For example, a document distributed on January 15, 2021 suggested that banks could review payment messages for indications that an individual participated in the assault on the Capitol and included terms such as “antifa,” “MAGA,” “Trump,” “Biden,” “Kamala,” “Schumer,” and “Pelosi,” along with terms indicating an intent to do violence, such as “shoot,” “kill,” “murder” and “storm the Capitol.”
Take away all the bureaucratese in that, and it looks a lot like “We were monitoring people’s bank transactions selectively, based on their political views.”
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Senator Scott would appear to agree.
The letter, signed by Acting Assistant Secretary Corey Tellez, comes in response to a letter sent by Scott to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen demanding answers from the Department and FinCEN after revelations of the surveillance using “politically charged search terms” to flag customer profiles to federal law enforcement surfaced.
In his letter, Scott wrote that the surveillance “represents a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process.”
The Department of the Treasury is arguably in violation of the Fourth Amendment in this process, as they are flying in the face of the people’s rights “…to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The warranting process described in the Fourth Amendment is very clear, requiring that the warrant be issued only when there is probable cause and that it shall specify “…the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
None of that was applied here; it looks an awful lot like the Treasury Department indulged in a fishing expedition, seeking anyone who was even tangentially related to the January 6th, 2021, hooliganism at the Capitol.
If this isn’t an abuse of power, then that term has no meaning.