Government Wants More Access to Banking Records

Once again, it appears Congress didn't do its homework. Buried in the recently passed Intelligence Reform Bill, is a provision that paves the way for the Government to ask for millions of international bank records.

The initiative, as conceived by a working group within the Treasury Department, would vastly expand the government's database of financial transactions by gaining access to logs of international wire transfers into and out of American banks.

Government officials said in interviews that the effort, which grew out of a brief, little-noticed provision in the intelligence reform bill passed by Congress in December, would give them the tools to track leads on specific suspects and, more broadly, to analyze patterns in terrorist financing and other financial crimes.

What is this provision?

The provision authorized the Treasury Department to pursue regulations requiring financial institutions to turn over "certain cross-border electronic transmittals of funds" that may be needed in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

One of the few who got it right was Sen. Robert Byrd:

Senator Robert Byrd, Democrat of West Virginia, said consideration of the 615-page bill was rushed and lawmakers shouldn't have voted on something ``stampeded'' to the floor.

`We cower like whipped dogs in the face of political pressure,'' he said before the vote. Byrd and Republican James Inhofe of Oklahoma voted against the bill.

Most upset with the new regulations will be those in the banking industry, who still aren't in sync with the Patriot Act requirements.

But in a letter in January to Treasury Department officials, 52 banking associations around the country said that a "lack of clarity" by the government in explaining what is expected of them in complying with regulations to deter terrorist financing and money laundering has "complicated, and in some cases undermined" those efforts.

The result, banking officials say, is that many banks, now in a defensive mode, are sending the government far more reports than ever before on "suspicious activities" by their customers - and potentially clogging the system with irrelevant data - for fear of being penalized if they fail to file the reports as required.

It also hasn't helped that the Government has brought criminal enforcement actions against banks which haven't complied to its satisfaction:

By sharply increasing prosecutions against banks over compliance failures, "law enforcement is shooting the messenger," said Herbert A. Bierne, a senior enforcement official with the Federal Reserve System's board of governors. "You shoot the messenger, you stop getting the messages."

Message to Congress: Act in haste, repent at leisure. Stop passing bills you haven't read.

< Mass Protests in Iraq | Patriot Act Fix Just a Beginning >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    They can do this, but no one can get Cheney to produce records involving his "questionable" activities? Corrupt, corrupt, corrupt ... November 2000 - a very sad date for the U.S.A. November 2004 - a tragic date for the U.S.A. U.S.A. - RIP

    The banks' complaints are typical types of complaints you can hear from any regulated industry. We heard them for years from the telephone industry whenever any new regulation was put forward. In this case the records are "international" transactions, and those are the transactioms that terrorists use in financing their operations. I have no sympathy for anyone who would want to pervent us looking at these types of transactions.

    The banking system will do as it is told to do. But this points out how totally corrupt the system is and what it wants from you, our forebears understood(see bill of rights) this fact, but the swine in washington, "do not want to play by the rules", only want you in line. the access is to look for money not reported by some little person, so the government can put that person in prison or take the money as it has done in the war on drugs. its not about terrorists or any kind of illegal acts. its about control of you, and in the end you will be living inside a nation like Red China with a cop at your back and a gun at your head 24/7. Think of what kind of nation your kids will be living in if you don't act. Act for life act for justice act against evil and control of our world. ACT AGAINST BUSH.

    Re: Government Wants More Access to Banking Record (none / 0) (#4)
    by Johnny on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 10:06:48 AM EST
    PPJ I think the massive amounts of cash being moved offshore by non-terrorist American companies should be looked at as well, any chance of that being done? I understand the "international banking=terrorist activity" connection, but I think the first time one of the BushCo cronies banking records indicates s/he is not paying appropriate income tax, there will be a hue and cry over it.

    Johnny - What do you mean by "appropriate income tax?" There is no such thing. You either pay what you are supposed to pay, or you don't. Or are you wanting to decide what should be paid?

    Re: Government Wants More Access to Banking Record (none / 0) (#6)
    by Johnny on Sun Apr 10, 2005 at 05:51:07 PM EST
    Paying what you are supposed to pay is the amount deemed appropriate by the legislature, Jim. They, acting on my behalf as elected officials, have determined that amount. I said nothing about me deciding how much they should pay. As you are so fond of telling others, quit putting words in my mouth.

    Johnny - The two words are not the same. Government, or individuals, might think it appropriate for us to do a variety of things that do not carry the force of law. For a different example, many people think it appropriate for you to wear suits and ties to weddings, but there is no law involved. Appropriate behavior might be for young people to open the door for elders, but there is no law involved. So, when you use a qualifier like appropriate, what's a guy to think?

    Re: Government Wants More Access to Banking Record (none / 0) (#8)
    by Johnny on Mon Apr 11, 2005 at 02:16:47 PM EST
    Outside the box Jim. Sematics aside Jim, would you feel better if I said something like "When it turns out that those companies and individuals moving funds offshore are not paying their legally required amount" would that be better? I doubt it. They have deemed the amounts legally appropriate. I never said I thought it was appropriate or not.