Speed Reads


The Treasury Department has reportedly been illegally spying on private U.S. citizens

The Treasury Department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) has repeatedly violated domestic surveillance laws by viewing and storing private American citizens' financial activity and data, government officials told BuzzFeed News. The actions, which had been going on under former President Barack Obama, have apparently continued under Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker.

The Treasury Department is allegedly accessing info that is handed over by banks at the end of each day to a database maintained by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), which uses the data to watch for activities like money laundering or terrorist operations. The OIA, on the other hand, is tasked with watching for financial crimes outside the U.S., as dictated by a Reagan-era law that limits federal agencies' ability to surveil American citizens. "This is domestic spying," emphasized one senior Treasury official.

Some officials also claimed the OIA was allowing additional intelligence agencies to access the information about private citizens, including CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency staffers. "Officials from those agencies have been coming to work at OIA for short periods of time, sometimes for as little as a week, and thereby getting unrestricted access to information on U.S. citizens that they otherwise could not collect without strict oversight," BuzzFeed News writes.

A Treasury Department spokesman denied the reports, claiming that all its branches "operate in a manner consistent with applicable legal authorities." Read the full report at BuzzFeed News.