Senator Demands to Know Who in Treasury Department Approved Search of ‘Religious Texts’ by Financial Institutions

Senator Demands to Know Who in Treasury Department Approved Search of ‘Religious Texts’ by Financial Institutions

]

A key member of the Senate Banking Committee probes Treasury’s request for transaction-level searches ‘indicative of extremism’ for Jan. 6 investigation.

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) wants to know who at the Department of Treasury approved searches of customers’ private accounts for transactions for “religious texts,” which books, if any, were singled out, and why such purchases were assumed to indicate an individual was involved in “domestic violent terrorism.”

In a Jan. 19 letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Adrea Gacki, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Mr. Scott, who is the top GOP member of the Senate Banking Committee, said such searches “represent a flagrant violation of Americans’ privacy and the improper targeting of U.S. citizens for exercising their constitutional rights without due process.”

Mr. Scott asked Ms. Yellen and Ms. Gacki “Which religious texts were flagged as potentially indicative of extremism?”

“On what basis did Treasury/FinCEN conclude that purchasing or possessing of religious texts, may be indicative of extremism?” he asked, adding “Who made the decision for Treasury/FinCEN to warn financial institutions that religious texts may indicate extremism?”

Mr. Scott also said “federal government efforts to target individuals and entities based on their political views is a blatant and egregious violation of our Constitution. Additionally, reported actions like these disrupt confidence in federal law enforcement and raise significant questions regarding the independence of federal financial regulators.”

The South Carolina Republican lawmaker’s demands were sparked by the House Judiciary Committee’s Jan. 17 release of documents describing a joint operation involving FinCEN, which is part of the Treasury Department, and the FBI in which federal officials encouraged the searches, with the results to be shared with the government.

Related Stories

Advocates Outraged That Feds Asked Banks to Search Customers’ ‘Religious Texts’ Purchases
Janet Yellen Bows to Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, Stresses Importance of Communication
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Joe Biden's proposed 2023 U.S. budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on June 8, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on President Joe Biden’s proposed 2023 U.S. budget, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on June 8, 2022. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

The “religious texts” search term was among many federal officials asked financial institutions to use following the Jan. 6, 2021, breach of the U.S. Capitol, a congressional source with direct knowledge confirmed to The Epoch Times on Jan. 18. Other terms that banks, credit card companies, and financial firms were asked to use in the searches included “MAGA” and “Trump,” according to the House Judiciary Committee.

Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) told The Epoch Times “Freedom of Religion is a fundamental right enshrined in the Constitution. It should frighten every American that the federal government is watching people based on their purchases. This is as wrong as it gets and we will continue to expose this blatant attack on faith and civil liberties.”

Multiple religious liberty advocates also told The Epoch Times the searches represent a serious threat to constitutional liberties.

Kelly Shackleford, president of the Plano, Texas-based First Liberty Institute, declared that “It’s outrageous and frankly chilling that the federal government may be urging banks to monitor Americans for exercising their religious freedom by simply purchasing a Bible or other religious text.

“Weaponizing the federal government against religious Americans freely exercising their constitutionally protected freedom is outrageous and a danger to all our freedoms. It makes a mockery of our laws. When religious people are attacked and religious freedom is not upheld, all other civil liberties—including economic freedom—soon start crumbling.”

In addition to the specific information Mr. Scott seeks from Treasury officials, he is also seeking a host of documents, communications, and names in order to construct the complete decision tree that culminated in the decision to encourage the controversial searches by the financial companies on behalf of the government.

Mr. Scott told the Treasury Secretary that he wants to know the specifics of that department’s role in the searches, including “the role played in convening meetings, virtual or otherwise, the dissemination of information, and collecting post-search information from the financial institutions.”

He also seeks information on whether “anyone from another executive branch department or agency, such as the Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, ever direct, request, engage in, or encourage Treasury/FinCEN to engage in such reported activities?”

In addition, he asked Ms. Yellen and Ms. Gacki if “an independent financial regulatory agency, such as the Federal Reserve, FDIC, or OCC, ever direct, request, engage in, or encourage Treasury/FinCEN to engage in such reported activities?”

A Treasury Department spokesman could not be reached for comment for this news report.

#Senator #Demands #Treasury #Department #Approved #Search #Religious #Texts #Financial #Institutions


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *