Patterico's Pontifications


Your Sacred and Private Bank Records

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:38 pm

Sachi at Big Lizards has an eye-opening post about the extent to which the government already monitors your bank records, with full and enthusiastic cooperation from the banks:

I used to work at Sanwa bank, and every morning we received a report of “suspicious transactions,” sent us by the central office. In addition, we constantly monitored transactions looking for certain patterns that might indicate check kiting (large deposit quickly followed by a large withdrawl, low average balance, all timed around a check’s “floating” period).

If we decided a crime might be occurring, we reported all this information to the FBI… including records of the account transactions (without any warrant). Besides that, we also reported to the FBI anyone who deposited or withdrew a large amount of cash. Overseas wire transfers with certain characteristics were also reported to the feds.

All to catch drug dealers!

If you think your bank transactions are private, wake up from your dream. Sachi concludes:

It seems these newspapers can tolerate incredible penetration into our personal bank account information just to catch check kiters and drug dealers… but they cannot abide the much smaller intrusions, looking only at the transactions of large businesses, governments, and NGOs, in order to catch terrorists who have killed our fellow citizens and plot to destroy the rest of us!

Not when there are Pulitzers to be had.

8 Responses to “Your Sacred and Private Bank Records”

  1. Ha, ha, great post.
    Of course, we all know the answer to that—the NY & LA Times are much more consumed with Bush-hatred, than they are with hatred of terrorists.

    Has anyone ever tried to read a NY Times or LA Times article online ?
    Neither paper will even let you read the baseball box scores online without REGISTERING all sorts of ‘intrusive’ personal information with them—for heaven’s sake, you’d think you were signing up for a kidney transplant or something.

    And how about the IRS ?

    Why do liberals find it acceptable for the government to know everything about my income, precisely how many miles I drove in my business car during the past 12 months, and whom I contributed charity to, all before they confiscate half of my income under penalty of prison…..yet the same government is characterized as being not only intrusive, but as engaging in a neo-conservative, racist, fascist cabal for attempting to follow international wire transfers by known terrorist organizations.

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  2. Bank cooperation might be full, but it’s hardly enthusiastic. Compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act is very costly in both time and energy.

    Bob Smith (d57802)

  3. A number of years ago the IRS had a program with large credit card companies, where they would get lists of people with high transaction totals on their personal cards, and cross reference them with tax returns. They hoped to catch folks who spent a lot more than they reported.

    I imagine this was shut down quickly, but who knows?

    Then again, everyone who deposits $10,000 or more, or lots of money orders or cash (“Know Your Customer”) is going to get reported. And that’s an open program. Where’s the outrage?TM

    But increasing revenue and monitoring “rich people” is something every liberal can support.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  4. this point works with equal force against your position. when people of average intelligence are aware of the pervasive financial reporting and surveillance, it stands to reason that the nyt/lat didn’t tell the terrorists anything they didn’t already know. yes, the administration has trumpeted some successes for this program, but we have no idea if it is telling the truth.
    lol@dimwits complaining about “liberals” taxing them. here’s a clue for you guys: the income has to be resolved with the outgo, or else we’ll go broke, and the outgo has increased quite a bit with the bush war. do you people think money grows on trees? sure uncle sam can just print more to pay his bills, but that just produces inflation. there’s a neocon school of thought that believes huge deficits are a good idea because they will starve the government in the future and impair its ability to do the kind of social programs neocons hate so much. i’m opposed to this thinking. where do you stand?

    assistant devil's advocate (1db2b6)

  5. Thats part of the point that people are making. What makes the surveillance legal is related to what makes the disclosure not so bad: people don’t reasonably expect bank privacy.

    actus (6234ee)

  6. “assistant devil’s advocate,” I’m sorry my position has upset you.

    You appear to be arguing against a straw man, because I never claimed to be against NO taxation, and NO government spending.

    I assure you that if you go back and carefully read my post, I said that liberals are complaining about an alleged invasion of privacy regarding the SWIFT program, yet they don’t complain about the invasion of privacy of the IRS’ over-complicated, million page tax codes which take hours upon hours to fill out.
    Filing taxes is so invasive and consuming, that it is referred to as the tax “season.”

    See, liberals are willing to endure the invasion of privacy to procure tax revenue—but not to catch terrorist organizations.
    I’m willing to endure the invasion of privacy for BOTH ends.

    Relax, and enjoy the holiday weekend. 🙂

    Desert Rat (d8da01)

  7. Desert Rat makes a telling point. If the Left actually cared one bit about privacy they would be clamoring for the replacement of the IRS with a national sales tax. No records to fill out and no government agency snooping into the lives and finances of Americans.

    Black Jack (d8da01)

  8. If the Left actually cared one bit about privacy they would be clamoring for the replacement of the IRS with a national sales tax.

    Why? One answer to privacy problems is to limit the uses of data collection. I think thats what they supposedly do to IRS data.

    actus (6234ee)

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