The Obama administration is gearing up to allow U.S. spy agencies full access to an enormous database of Americans’ financial information in the name of fighting terrorism, Reuters reported Wednesday.
The plan, still in its early stages of development, would be “a major step by U.S. intelligence agencies to spot and track down terrorist networks and crime syndicates by bringing together financial databanks, criminal records and military intelligence,” according to Reuters.
It would give intelligence agencies such as the CIA and National Security Agency full access to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCEN. Financial institutions in the U.S. are required to report all “suspicious customer activity” to the network. The FBI already has access to it, but other agencies currently are required to make case-by-case requests for information.
“For these reports to be of value in detecting money laundering, they must be accessible to law enforcement, counter-terrorism agencies, financial regulators, and the intelligence community,” read a Treasury Department planning document obtained by Reuters.
The proposal appears to be the latest step by the Obama administration in collect, storing or otherwise using Americans’ personal information in the name of national security. TheBlaze TV’s “For the Record” highlighted the rapid expansion in the NSA’s power to tap into the lives of U.S. citizens in its premiere episode Wednesday.
A Treasury spokesperson told Reuters that FinCEN is legally permitted to share information with intelligence agencies to aid in national security, and that all law enforcement and intelligence community members are bound by safeguards outlined in the Bank Secrecy Act.