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Apparently Big Tech isn’t the only sector that the U.S. government is exploiting to achieve its dystopian ends against Americans. An explosive new congressional report unveiled another field of abhorrent government collusion with financial institutions to surveil citizens’ private transactions.

The House Judiciary Committee and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government released a 36-page interim report March 6 outlining the extent of the “mass” government spying effort. “This financial surveillance was not predicated on any specific evidence of particularized criminal conduct and, even worse, it keyed on terms and specific transactions that concerned core political and religious expression protected by the Constitution,” the report stated.

One document shared with financial institutions by federal law enforcement “noted that those Americans who expressed opposition to firearm regulations, open borders, COVID-19 lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and the ‘deep state’ may be potential domestic terrorists,” despite them not having to be suspected of committing any specific crimes. The House report concluded that federal law enforcement used this Stasi-esque line of reasoning to “commandeer” financial institutions to conduct sweeping, Orwellian searches of Americans’ financial data.

The FBI and the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) were both flagged as having multiple meetings with a litany of financial and fintech institutions, including Barclays, U.S. Bank, Charles Schwab, HSBC, Bank of America, PayPal, KeyBank, Standard Chartered, Western Union, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Santander, JPMorgan Chase, and MUFG. The purpose of these meetings were to coordinate strategies for the aforementioned institutions to “voluntarily” share private customer information with federal law enforcement “outside of normal legal processes.”

Transactions that were to be caught up in the government-controlled financial surveillance dragnet were flagged based on benign political search terms, as the report showed. Federal law enforcement jawboned banks to filter through Zelle payments using terms like “‘MAGA’ and ‘TRUMP’ as part of an ostensible investigation into the events on January 6, 2021, and also warned that ‘the purchase of books (including religious texts) and subscriptions to other media containing extremist views,’ could be evidence of ‘Homegrown Violent Extremism.’”

But that’s not all. FinCEN in particular was reported to have instructed financial institutions through disseminated materials on the usage of Merchant Category Codes (MCCs) to assist with flagging potential “‘extremists’” and criminals. As the House report analyzed, the MCCs targeted transactions using key keywords such as “‘small arms’” purchases or stores like “‘Cabela’s,’” “‘Bass Pro Shop’” and “‘Dick’s Sporting Goods.’” The House report didn’t mince words in its summary of FinCEN’s malevolent behavior:

Americans doing nothing other than shopping or exercising their Second Amendment rights were being tracked by financial institutions and federal law enforcement. Despite these transactions having no criminal nexus, FinCEN seems to have adopted a characterization of these Americans as potential threat actors and subject to surveillance.

George Orwell turns over in his grave. 

Read the full House Judiciary Committee and Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government interim report here. 

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