Treasury Feels Heat Over Anti-MAGA Profiling, Tell Sen. Scott They Were Just Trying to Help

Treasury Feels Heat Over Anti-MAGA Profiling, Tell Sen. Scott They Were Just Trying to Help

The Treasury Department says spying on Americans and profiling former President Donald Trump’s supporters in 2021 were just part of its way to show it was being helpful.

On Friday, The department responded to a letter from Republican Sen. Tim Scott, of South Carolina, who in January asked about reports that in the aftermath of the Capitol incursion “the U.S. Treasury Department (Treasury) through its Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) urged private financial institutions to surveil customers’ transaction-level data using politically charged search terms, in order to flag certain customer profiles on behalf of Federal law enforcement.”

“These allegations, if true, represent a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process,” Scott wrote in a letter obtained by Fox News.

The letter from the Treasury Department said the response to the events of Jan. 6, 2021, “included government and private sector representatives who voluntarily participated in discussions and information exchanges focused on identifying the perpetrators of this attack and providing support to ongoing law enforcement investigations.”

Banks and the government based their hunt for potential suspects on profiles they had already developed “related to violent extremists or active shooters,” the letter said.

These included a “series of large weapons-related purchases from multiple stores over a short period of time, in a pattern that was out of the ordinary for the customer, which was to be considered together with other indicators that the customer had already or was about to engage in imminent, mass violence — not to identify normal, lawful gun purchases”

The letter did not disclose all the terms flagged, but said that “a document distributed on January 15, 2021, suggested that banks could review payment messages for indications that an individual participated in the assault on the Capitol and included terms such as ‘antifa,’ ‘MAGA,’ ‘Trump,’ ‘Biden,’ ‘Kamala,’ ‘Schumer’ and ‘Pelosi,’ along with terms indicating an intent to do violence, such as ‘shoot,’ ‘kill,’ ‘murder’ and ‘storm the Capitol.’”

“FinCEN’s primary role through these Exchange events was to support law enforcement efforts,” the letter added.

Last month, the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government investigation learned that merchandise codes such “5091: Sporting and Recreational Goods and Supplies” and the keywords such as “Cabela’s,” “Dick’s Sporting Goods” and “Bass Pro Shops” were used in the hunt for people to prosecute, according to Fox News.

Fox News reported that a bank generated a series of terms that went beyond “MAGA” and “Trump,” but said it did not know which bank created the list of terms.

Fox News reported that it was told by its source the list of terms searched by banks included: “White Power,” “Camp Auschwitz,” “Antifa,” “Proud B,” “Storm, the,” “Capitol,” “Groyper Army,” “Threepers,” “boogaloo,” “civil war,” “last sons,” “kill,” “shoot,” “gun,” “death,” “murder,” “Biden,” “Kamala,” “Pelosi,” “Schumer” and “Pence.”

In a news release issued last month, the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government noted what took place.

“Individuals who shopped at stores like Cabela’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods, or purchased religious texts like a Bible, may also have had their transactions flagged. This kind of pervasive financial surveillance, carried out in coordination with and at the request of federal law enforcement, into Americans’ private transactions is alarming and raises serious concerns about the FBI’s respect for fundamental civil liberties,” the release said.

The release said committee Chairman Rep. Jim Jordan, of Ohio, is seeking a transcribed interview with Peter Sullivan, Senior Private Sector Partner for Outreach in the Strategic Partner Engagement Section of the FBI, and Noah Bishoff, former Director of the Office of Stakeholder Integration and Engagement in the Strategic Operations Division of FinCEN.

In a letter to Bishoff, Jordan said FinCEN sent material to financial institutions that outlined the “typologies” of people of interest to the federal government.

The letter said FinCEN warned of “‘extremism’ indicators that include ‘transportation charges, such as bus tickets, rental cars, or plane tickets, or travel to areas with no apparent purpose,’ or ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views.’”

“In other words, FinCEN urged large financial institutions to comb through the private transactions of their customers for suspicious charges on the basis of protected political and religious expression,” Jordan wrote.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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