After the 9/11 attacks, civil liberties advocates warned that the government would use the crisis as an excuse to spy on Americans in ways unthinkable previously. The unprecedented intrusions by domestic anti-terrorist law enforcement agencies proved that fear right.
What do you suppose happened after the Capitol riot on January 6, 2021?
It appears that parts of the government used the Capitol riot to surveil people based on their political leanings. That’s a revelation contained in a letter from the Treasury Department to South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott. Scott, the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, requesting more information on a surveillance program uncovered by the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government investigation.
That surveillance program used search terms like “MAGA” and “Trump” as well as “Biden,” “antifa,” “Schumer,” and “Pelosi.” Scott noted that “Exchange events” convened by its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, “began shortly after January 6 under the prior Administration,” and included the political search terms.
Fox News Digital’s exclusive report on the surveillance revealed that FinCEN provided materials to financial institutions suggesting they search and filter Americans’ financial data using keywords and search terms, as well as merchant category codes to aid law enforcement in identifying persons of interest ahead of the Jan. 20, 2021 inauguration — weeks after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol protests.
The terms and codes were discovered as part of a House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government investigation. The committees obtained documents indicating that MCC codes were used to query transactions like: “3484: Small Arms,” “5091: Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies” and the keywords “Cabela’s,” “Dick’s Sporting Goods” and “Bass Pro Shops,” among others.
The House Judiciary Committee also obtained documents revealing that FinCEN warned financial institutions that an “extremism indicator” could be “the purchase of books (including religious texts),” like the Bible, and subscriptions to certain media “containing extremist views.”
It’s unnerving to think that the federal government has information on my banking transactions or retail purchases that they could put me on a list of “extremists.” I’m sure by the lights of some in government, I am, indeed, an “extremist.” Must be because I write about all that Constitution stuff.
Sources familiar told Fox News Digital last month that the search terms, like “MAGA” and “Trump,” were generated by a bank and used to help them identify suspicious transactions when reviewing customer transactional information. It is unclear which bank generated the search terms.
The sources said FinCEN then shared those terms with other banks to help those financial institutions to comply with their own suspicious activity reports. However, beyond the terms identified by the House Judiciary Committee, the unnamed bank generated other terms, which FinCEN shared with other banks, the sources told Fox News Digital.
Whoever thought up these surveillance programs would have felt right at home in Stalin’s Russia or as a member of the East German Stasi. They certainly have no place in America.