Thursday, May 30, 2024

Shop at Dick’s? Gov’t Warned Banks That You May be a ‘MAGA’ Extremist

'This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans' private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the FBI's respect for fundamental civil liberties...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) The House Weaponization Subcommittee revealed Wednesday that the U.S. government told banks to pore through private financial transactions in search of potential domestic extremists in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol Hill uprising.

The Weaponization Subcommittee showed that the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN—created to combat issues such as international money laundering—urged banks to search their databases for terms such as “MAGA” and “Trump” to find potential domestic extremists.

FinCEN also warned banks that indicators of extremism include “transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, for travel to areas with no apparent purpose,” as well as “the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.”

Additionally, FinCEN told banks that they could spot potential “lone wolf” mass shooters by flagging purchases from stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods.

“FinCEN distributed slides, prepared by a financial institution, explaining how other financial institutions can use MCC codes to detect customers whose transactions may reflect ‘potential active shooters, [and] who may include dangerous International Terrorists / Domestic Terrorists / Homegrown Violent Extremists (‘Lone Wolves’),” Weaponization Subcommittee Chair Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in a letter to former FinCEN official Noah Bishoff.

“For example, the slides instruct financial institutions to query for transactions using certain MCC codes such as ‘3484: Small Arms,’ ‘5091: Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies,’ and the keywords ‘Cabela’s,’ and ‘Dick’s Sporting Goods,’ among several others.”

Jordan noted that the above transactions would be protected by the Second Amendment, and have no apparent nexus to criminality.

Jordan requested that Bishoff participate in a transcribed interview with his committee about the matter by the end of this month.

Wednesday’s document dump from the Weaponization Subcommittee follow revelations last year about Bank of America providing a trove of data about January 6 protestors to the FBI—voluntarily and without a warrant.

That information came from  an FBI whistleblower, retired FBI Supervisory Intelligence Analyst George Hill, who said that the financial institution “voluntarily and without any legal process” funneled to the agency “a list of individuals who had made transactions in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area with a BoA credit or debit card between January 5 and January 7, 2021.”

Hill also indicated that the bank investigated customers who bought weapons during that time frame. “This information appears to have had no individualized nexus to particularized criminal conduct, but was rather a data dump of BoA customers’ transactions over a three-day period,” Hill said, who was joined by his former supervisor, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston Field Office Joseph Bonavolonta.

The FinCEN and Bank of America issues both relate to an ongoing Weaponization Subcommittee investigation into federal law enforcement using private institutions as a proxy to conduct surveillance.

“This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the FBI’s respect for fundamental civil liberties,” Jordan said Wednesday.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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