US spy agencies might eyeball your finances

The Obama administration wants to give the CIA and NSA easier access to a huge database with Americans' information.

By Aimee Picchi Mar 15, 2013 2:24PM

Updated 5:22 p.m. 

A new proposal from the Obama administration would allow U.S. intelligence agencies including the CIA to gain access to Americans' financial data, according to a new report. 

The plan is setting off criticism, with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, a Republican, calling it an "erosion of constitutional protections."

Under the plan, U.S. intelligence agencies could tap into a massive database that contains financial information on U.S. citizens, with the goal of tracking down terrorist networks and crime syndicates, Reuters reports

The database, called the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is already accessible to the FBI, although the CIA and the National Security Agency are required to make requests to view information on a case-by-case basis, according to the report. 

While the plan is still in the early stages, the sharing of data is legal and was made permissible by a combination of the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA Patriot Act, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush more than a decade ago, Reuters notes.

FinCEN, a bureau of the Treasury, reports to the Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, according to its website. Its goal is to "safeguard the financial system from illicit use and combat money laundering and promote national security."

The Treasury refuted some aspects of the Reuters story, with a spokesman saying there isn't an initiative underway to give the intelligence community expanded access to information that financial institutions provide to the banks. Treasury would not allow the intelligence community to mine FinCEN's data, the spokesman said. 

Image: Spy (© Photodisc Green/Getty Images)But by expanding the CIA's and NSA's access to FinCEN, Americans could find their financial data shared with groups outside the U.S., charges Texas AG Abbott. 

"My concern is this information can be not only shared with law enforcement agencies here in this country, but your financial records can be exposed worldwide and people can be falsely accused of being involved in some kind of terrorism scheme without being afforded due process," Abbott said on CNBC. 

Advocates for the plan say a strong system of sharing financial data will help identify people planning to attack the U.S., according to Reuters. 

Currently, FinCEN is allowed to share information with intelligence agencies as long as they abide by safeguards in the Bank Secrecy Act, a Treasury representative told Reuters. 

More on moneyNOW

Mar 15, 2013 2:38PM
Looks like it took until 2013 to get to 1984.......
Mar 15, 2013 3:37PM
I don't want the government  messing with my financial back ground,  its none of their damn business
Mar 15, 2013 3:12PM
 More civil liberties going down the drain. 1984 is right what's next spy camera's in the house??
Mar 15, 2013 3:37PM
Another step towards an Obama dictatorship.
Mar 15, 2013 3:18PM
Is this a sign of things to come ? Start their way up............
Mar 15, 2013 2:59PM
The CIA was never to be used to spy on Americans. Leave it to this half breed fook to start.
Mar 15, 2013 3:45PM
Might my a$$. Nothing is a secret anymore. Anything big bro wants to know is only a button push away. Anyone who believes any different is a fool. They are in possession of, and using technology that would scare the average person to death if they knew about it.
Mar 15, 2013 4:15PM
The Government needs to spy on their own finances. What is the Nationa Debt now?
Mar 15, 2013 3:54PM
....not surprised.....just more of the same old, of late U-N-C-O-N-S-T-I-T-U-T-I-O-N-A-L

Leadership of this once great nation has abandoned our Christian roots and values.

Mar 15, 2013 3:59PM
This is why we have the second amendment. It might have to be implemented soon.
Mar 15, 2013 3:31PM
Would violators get the same slap on the wrist that HSBC Bank USA got ?
Mar 15, 2013 3:05PM
Oh no!   They'll see all the piles and piles of money I don't have! 
Mar 15, 2013 4:03PM
If it was "really" the goal of tracking down terroism and crime syndicates, I would be 100% for it.  But I have this awful feeling that it will be more than that.  My husband and I are retired, we live comfortably, but not lavishly, we saved into our 401K's, and with our Social Security "entitlement" (another description that drives me up a wall), we manage fine.  After Obama was re-elected (which I still have a hard time understanding), I figured something like open financial records would only be a matter of time.  And in Jan., I withdrew money from our savings account, sent it to my 2 sons, and said, please put this in an CD and "hide" it for us.  Only a matter of time before the gov't. sees that we could get along fine without 1 or 2 of their Social Security checks each year.  I plan to send money to my sons each year, because next on his agenda will be a huge inheritance tax, even if you only have a little savings.
Mar 15, 2013 4:00PM
What would then prevent unethical members of the government accessing the information to profit?  By manipulating people's financial data, their credit score and other things could be used  destroy them.  I used to be in favor of Obama but I'm having second thoughts if this is the type of thing he wants to put into effect.
Mar 15, 2013 4:01PM
This is not news.   The Feds already have our financial records (IRS) and have been tracking us for years, especially if you manage/use so-called hazardous materials.  It's not like we can stop them now.  At least we have the 2nd Amendment...oh, wait!
Mar 15, 2013 3:57PM
May I suggest a big safe and a place to hide it all. Obama wants access to your funds. Just look at that smirk he has on his face all the time. Like he knows the day is coming.
Mar 15, 2013 4:44PM

Not the least bit surprised.  Totally consistent with Obama past policy and, apparently, just what the 47%ers (oops 51%ers) wanted.  Nothing like voting for a slow but steady voluntary suicide.

People wonder why we have gridlock. It's because informed people understand that doing nothing beats the heck out of the Democrats proposals.  There is a culture coming from the Democrats that we citizens exist solely to be subserviant to the government wishes and they will allow us a lifestyle of their choosing.  If your poor, they will raise your standard of living and, if your successful, you will be penalized - making us all equal.


Just another example of the dumbing down of America. 


We are getting just what they voted for - LEGALIZED GOVERNMENT THEFT AND REDISTRIBUTION - SHAMEFUL.  There is just an erosion of personal pride and ethics among Americans.  When our leadership creates a culture of jealousy, naturally it's easy for the sheeple to mentally justify theft by government (since they are to cowardly to do their own stealing).  And what the heck,  there is prison time if you steal it yourself - much smarter to have the government do it for you.



Mar 15, 2013 3:01PM
Ship what Macdonalds calls "food" off to Chinease.  Let them get a taste of "substandard" products.  They have been selling us their garbage for years.  Now US wants to slap a little horse meat in their faces and they get all upset.
Yet they eat cat.  Bring out the cat tenders.
Mar 15, 2013 4:56PM

Hey Obamaites and his administration how stupid are you people.......remember everything Hitler did was legal too and look at his legacy.


After September 11th, investigations showed that terrorists paid for most things in cash, no checking accounts or credit cards, cash, cold hard cash.  Using terrorism as an excuse is what the Obama administration does because they are terrorizing all of us by taking away more and more privacy and rights.


Terrorists deal in cash, weapons, and drugs.  You stupid politicians need to screw your head on and quit using terrorism as your reason to diminsh our freedoms.


If your intelligence agency are that intelligent they know who, what and where the terrorists are doing and financial records will only be opened to be abused not for finding our enemies.


This is the dumbest President and his supporters are just as ignorant.

Mar 15, 2013 4:29PM
As we move toward a completely cashless society, these occurrences will happen more and more.  It should be alarming to all freedom-loving Americans that the gov forces us to have a gov-issued  ID number to engage in basic commerce.  Stories like this are just a confirmation that the gov is wielding too much power, at the expense of individual liberty.

Did you know that the gov also has the authority to search your home,  place of business or property without your knowledge and they don't have to inform you that a search was conducted until after their investigation is complete, sometimes years later?  This is known as a "sneak and peek" search and it's perfectly legal under the (non)Patriot Act - look it up.

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