A wave of backlash for the Biden administration has been triggered following a probe into a surveillance mission by the Treasury Department targeting Americans. Republicans have been seeking answers about the initiative, which involved surveilling bank records of Americans for “extremist” activities post-January 6.
Recent reports revealed a controversial directive from the Treasury Department regarding the monitoring of financial transactions. Under this directive, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) asked financial institutions to investigate their clients’ transaction data for terms such as “MAGA” and “Trump.” This sparked an outcry from Republicans who questioned the government’s monitoring strategies.
This comes following a revelation of the specific sectors and demographic being targeted — Trump supporters, patrons of outdoor stores like Cabela’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops, and individuals who bought religious texts. Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen encountered numerous questions about these retrieval requests during her appearances on Capitol Hill this week.
However, these intense inquiries were deflected by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who responded that the matter was under investigation and that she didn’t have extensive knowledge about the situation.
Yellen pledged to look further into the department’s instructions to the banks concerning the transaction inspections.
These surveillance actions were questioned by Rep. Ann Wagner in this week’s hearing. The Missouri Republican asked Yellen if the Treasury had instructed the banks to monitor citizens’ lawful shopping to keep track of their acquisition activities. Yellen responded with the commitment to a complete investigation.
A similar pledge was offered to Senator Tim Scott during the Senate Banking Committee hearing on Thursday. Scott criticized the surveillance initiative, saying, “FinCEN was created to stop money laundering and not to spy on Americans…It was not created for political motivations.” Yellen merely stated that the affair had transpired before her tenure and she promised to further examine the matter.
Keywords like ‘MAGA’ and ‘Trump’ from Zelle payments, along with purchases from Bass Pro Shop and religious texts like the Bible, were singled out by the FBI as potential red flags, according to documents referenced by the Judiciary Chairman, Jim Jordan.
Furthermore, certain subscriptions to news sources and travel-related purchases were labeled officially as potential extremist indicators.
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