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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.’”
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