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The War on Your Financial Privacy Continues

Recently by Bob Bauman: The (Tax) Return of the Tiger

President Obama in a current Rolling Stone interview actually had the audacity to say this: “The idea that we’ve got a lack of enthusiasm in the Democratic base, that people are sitting on their hands complaining, is just irresponsible. . . . .If we want the kind of country that respects civil rights and civil liberties, we’d better fight in this election.”

Glen Greenwald of Salon put it best: “…for Barack Obama to cite ‘civil liberties’ as a reason why Democratic apathy is ‘just irresponsible,’ and to claim with a straight face that this election will determine whether we’re ‘the kind of country that respects’ them, is…detached from basic reality…”

This from a phony 2008 presidential candidate who attacked the PATRIOT Act, then as president expanded that law and has suspended due process, allowed continued preventive detentions, authorized secret assassinations of U.S. citizens, vastly expanded government surveillance of the Internet, protected Executive branch crimes through the use of radical secrecy doctrines, escalated punishment for government whistleblowers, granted legal immunity for war crimes, and massively escalated drone war in Pakistan.

American civil liberties indeed!

Stupid Reporting Tricks

What set me off today on this rant was a New York Times article this morning announcing that the U.S. Treasury has proposed an inane requirement that all banks make weekly reports of all electronic money transfers into and out of the United States – we’re talking millions if not billions of transfers!

Why? Because, as usual government shills claimed, this bureaucratic measure is needed to combat the dread scourge of terrorism!

This latest Treasury proposal adds another layer to existing “anti-money laundering” laws, one of the major governmental frauds of all time, as I have explained before.

These Draconian laws have been on the books in the United States and other countries for nearly 30 years, promoted originally as being aimed at drug kingpins and their illicit cash. Later the politicians started a new myth — claiming that AML laws were needed to stop terrorist cash.

In fact, these laws have been mainly used as prosecutorial bargaining chips, since they impose heavy fines and prison sentences. Add ML charges to any threatened indictment and a putative defendant is likely plea to a lesser charge.

They have also been used by the IRS as a backdoor means to search for tax evasion, especially when offshore financial activity is involved. The IRS presumes any American engaged in offshore finance probably is a crook.

Anti-Freedom Plan

This is yet another part of the anti-freedom plan in which the U.S. government, and especially the IRS, have done all they can to keep you and your money at home — where, under the privacy destroying PATRIOT Act, they can confiscate cash at will and in secret.

Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), is a subdivision of the stridently anti-tax haven, pro tax Organization for Economic and Community Development (OECD). Mainly a front group for the high tax, welfare state G-20 countries, both the OECD and FATF have skillfully advocated AML laws for their tax hungry sponsors as a pious means to destroy financial privacy — and to track down what they claim is massive offshore tax evasion.

Earlier this year FATF proposed making tax evasion a co-crime with money laundering and two U.S. senators agreed.

The 9-11 Offshore Myth

Is this latest Treasury proposal needed to combat terrorism, as they claimed yesterday, hinting that it could have thwarted the 9-11 attacks? Pure political bologna!

The official 9/11 Commission estimated that $400,000 to $500,000 was used to finance the 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, most of American bank accounts. Only about $130,000 was sent from overseas. Some of those transactions were wires above the $3,000 threshold that requires bank record-keeping, but this 9-11 offshore money myth was used by Congress to justify hundreds of pages restrictions in the PATRIOT Act on offshore financial and banking activity. (See my special PATRIOT Report for the full story).

SWIFT Again

There is another audacious angle to this Treasury proposal.

Under the new Treasury proposal, the bank reports on cross-border wire transfers would come through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), a global banking cooperative based in Brussels that actually wires all these funds, allowing financial institutions to automate and standardize transactions.

In 2006 it was exposed that SWIFT, under pressure from the Bush administration secretly had been supplied the IRS with millions of private financial records. In secret cooperation with the U.S. government, SWIFT violated the privacy of an untold number of persons by allowing the U.S. access to Swift cash transfer records. I wrote about this at the time.

This secret partnership with Washington, reported in The New York Times in June 2006, gave U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Treasury Department access to millions of records on international banking transactions by private individuals and others. Once exposed, the European Union and several governments put an end to this secret snooping deal.

In my opinion you better believe that the U.S. money snoops who say they are looking for terrorist cash are also looking for tax evasion, money laundering of all kinds and any other indictable offenses.

And they are doing this in violation of the Fourth Amendment guarantees against illegal searches without a warrant.

Reprinted with permission from the Sovereign Society.

Robert E. Bauman is a former Member of the United States House of Representatives from Maryland, (1973–1981). He is also a former federal official and state legislator; Member, Washington, DC Bar; Graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (1964) and the School of Foreign Service (1959), Washington, DC. Robert currently serves as legal counsel for the Sovereign Society.