BuzzFeed—I know, I know—is reporting that the Treasury Department is now spying on Americans and their financial data. As the late, great Jimmy Durante used to say, “Everybody wants to get into the act.” This spying is so egregious that even Treasury employees are complaining.
The Treasury’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) is gathering and storing financial data on Americans without warrants and apparently without any legal justification. The OIA says that everything they do is legal and that the BuzzFeed article is inaccurate but a senior Treasury official says flatly that it’s domestic spying.
The issues are a bit arcane but the BuzzFeed article does a good job of explaining what’s going on. Basically it’s another case of the Iron Law of Data Collection. In this case, data collected from the banks on money transfers over $10,000 that is supposed to be used to prevent money laundering is being mined and stored by the OIA over the objections of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the agency tasked with collecting the data and preventing money laundering.
It seems that you just can’t be a real government agency without spying on your citizens. Pretty soon, Animal Control will start spying on us. Oh wait, they already are.