Saturday, January 13, 2007

Guess Who's Reading Your Bank Statements?

Now what was it that I wrote about Americans and privacy rights here last week? Oh yes. Here it is: 'Face it, Americans. You have no privacy left. None. Nada.'

That was in response to the story about Bush reading their snail mail on top of the illegal wiretapping, gathering of phone records, collecting information on antiwar protesters, monitoring their cybersex e-mail relationships and who knows what other methods the US government is using to spy on its citizens (think 'cameras' and 'satellites').

Well, the New York Times informs us of yet another privacy intrusion:

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13 — The Pentagon has been using a little-known power to obtain banking and credit records of hundreds of Americans and others suspected of terrorism or espionage inside the United States, part of an aggressive expansion by the military into domestic intelligence gathering.

The C.I.A. has also been issuing what are known as national security letters to gain access to financial records from American companies, though it has done so only rarely, intelligence officials say.

Define "rarely".

Banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions receiving the letters usually have turned over documents voluntarily, allowing investigators to examine the financial assets and transactions of American military personnel and civilians, officials say.

That's comforting, isn't it?

So, now not only do they know who you're talking to on the phone and when, who's sending you letters and what's in them, they also know where you're buying your panties according to your credit card statement.

Congressional officials said members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees had been briefed on the use of the letters by the military and the C.I.A.

And I'm sure they'll all be feigning the required faux public outrage as soon as possible.

And remember those turf wars that were supposed to be fixed by creating the department of homeland security? Yeah, well...

The Pentagon’s expanded intelligence-gathering role, in particular, has created occasional conflicts with other federal agencies. Pentagon efforts to post American military officers at embassies overseas to gather intelligence for counterterrorism operations or future war plans has rankled some State Department and C.I.A. officials, who see the military teams as duplicating and potentially interfering with the intelligence agency.

In the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has complained about military officials dealing directly with local police — rather than through the bureau — for assistance in responding to possible terrorist threats against a military base. F.B.I. officials say the threats have often turned out to be uncorroborated and, at times, have stirred needless anxiety.

And what else are they doing with your information?

Even when a case is closed, military officials said they generally maintain the records for years because they may be relevant to future intelligence inquiries.

That's called 'dossier building', I believe.

Who needs those black helicopters anymore when the US government has much better ways to invade your life?

Maybe those tin foil hat people really are onto something...

Deletions in Army Manual Raise Wiretapping Concerns

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