CIA Grabbing Data On Money Transfers Using Patriot Act

CIAOne senses that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but nonetheless the CIA’s bulk collection of international money transfer details is making headlines today; this report from CNN:

The CIA is collecting bulk records on international money transfers, using the same Patriot Act legal authority that has become the center of controversy in U.S. surveillance programs, a source told CNN.

A person familiar with the program said the agency’s efforts are an outgrowth of terror finance-tracking programs that were established in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terror attacks and revealed that al Qaeda funded the hijackers using methods such as smuggled cash, money transfers, and credit and debit cards.

The Treasury Department and the National Security Agency have other programs that similarly focus on financial transaction data. The CIA program provides some redundancies intended to catch transactions that may not draw attention in other programs.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times first reported the existence of the CIA program Thursday night, saying it has sparked concerns from lawmakers.

The revelation comes amid debate in the United States over whether to pare back some surveillance in light of privacy concerns raised after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked documents describing secret spy programs.

The CIA program focuses on transfers that the agency believes could be the source of terrorism financing and that use services such as MoneyGram and Western Union. The vast majority are purely non-U.S. transactions, but it includes some transactions to or from the United States.

Such U.S.-related transactions could raise concerns about data of U.S. people, which the CIA is generally prohibited from collecting…

[continues at CNN]

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