Friday, June 23, 2006

How many secret domestic spying programs are there?

Story's out! Bush is spying on financial transactions.

Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror - New York Times

WASHINGTON, June 22 - Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

...The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

...That access to large amounts of sensitive data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

...The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies.

...Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing. Much more limited agreements with other companies have provided access to A.T.M. transactions, credit card purchases and Western Union wire payments, the officials said.

...Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. Some of those officials expressed reservations about the program, saying that what they viewed as an urgent, temporary measure had become permanent nearly five years later without specific Congressional approval or formal authorization. (my emphasis)

Read the whole thing. There's more. Including supposed briefings of Congress. What is it going to take for Congress to stop this run-away power grab by the executive branch? Did they not take oaths to defend the Constitution?

Just how many secret spying programs are there?

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