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Less and less freedom. The CIA is now monitoring international money transfers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
November 15th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sending money to friends and family overseas? The Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA may be very interested. Said agency is now secretly collecting bulk records of international money transfers handled by companies like Western Union. They are doing so under the same law that the dreaded National Security Agency, or NSA uses to collect civilians' phone records.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to current and former government officials, the program is entitled the C.I.A. financial records program. These officials say that this was authorized by provisions in the Patriot Act. The program is also being overseen by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

The extent of the government data collection programs is not yet fully known. Certainly, this implies that the national debate over privacy and security is far from over.

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Details of the C.I.A. program were not immediately clear but has been confirmed by several current and former officials speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The information released thus far does not include purely domestic transfers or bank-to-bank transactions, several officials said. Another contact suggested that the surveillance court had imposed rules withholding the identities of any Americans from the data the C.I.A. sees, requiring a tie to a terrorist organization before a search may be run. This data is discarded after a certain number of years.

Other officials say that there are other bulk collection programs that has yet to come to light. "The intelligence community collects bulk data in a number of different ways under multiple authorities," one intelligence official said.

C.I.A. Spokesman Dean Boyd declined to confirm whether such a program exists. "The C.I.A. protects the nation and upholds the privacy rights of Americans by ensuring that its intelligence collection activities are focused on acquiring foreign intelligence and counterintelligence in accordance with U.S. laws," he said.

Orders for business records from the surveillance court generally prohibit recipients from talking about them. A spokeswoman for Western Union says that it did not directly address a question about whether it had been ordered to turn over records in bulk. She did say that the company complies with legal requirements to provide information.

"We collect consumer information to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and other laws," Luella Chavez D'Angelo says. "In doing so, we also protect our consumers' privacy."

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