I won’t be able to unpack the entire Patriot Act in one article, however, what I would like to do is draw your attention to some specific provisions in the act that Americans should be made aware of moving forward. The recent events in Canada, along with all the writing and research I’ve been doing on law enforcement in America, inspired this article.
If law enforcement can seize a citizen’s loose cash or property, what’s to stop them from freezing bank accounts that they believe are associated to some kind of criminal activity?
The USA PATRIOT Act
This Patriot Act is actually an acronym for the following name: “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism”.
Interesting, right? I was twelve when Congress bulldozed this act through Congress and I never really understood what this act did to American liberty. Of course, I was a bit older when the Snowden NSA and CIA expose took place and I knew the wiretapping etc had to do with The Patriot Act, but it’s only now, in my daily research and writing that I’m truly discovering what our government did to American liberty in the emotional high of the 9/11 moment.
From the U.S. Treasury website on Financial Crimes and Services, here’s the description of this act.
The purpose of the USA PATRIOT Act is to deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and other purposes, some of which include:
- To strengthen U.S. measures to prevent, detect and prosecute international money laundering and financing of terrorism;
- To subject to special scrutiny foreign jurisdictions, foreign financial institutions, and classes of international transactions or types of accounts that are susceptible to criminal abuse;
- To require all appropriate elements of the financial services industry to report potential money laundering;
- To strengthen measures to prevent use of the U.S. financial system for personal gain by corrupt foreign officials and facilitate repatriation of stolen assets to the citizens of countries to whom such assets belong. Fincen.gov
The aspect of this law I’m going to hone in on is the new partnership between banks and the federal government.
One bank’s website describe’s the partnership that the Patriot Act created in this way:
The greatest impact of the Patriot Act is that it requires banks to change the way checking, savings and loan accounts are handled. It contains an anti-money laundering provision that impacts every person who opens or holds a bank account. The reason for the anti-money laundering efforts is that the terrorists responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks had no problem opening bank accounts in the United States. They were also able to obtain credit cards by completing applications with made-up social security numbers. The anti-money laundering clause of the Patriot Act attempts to hold banks more accountable for opening accounts or lending money to terrorists. When you open a new checking, savings or loan account with a bank, it is required to verify your identity by confirming your name, address, date of birth and a valid identification number. This would be a social security number for residents of the United States. A banker is also required to check your name against the following lists: FBI Wanted Fugitives, Most Wanted Fugitives and Most Wanted Terrorists Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons Wanted Fugitives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service Top 15 Most Wanted and Major Fugitive Cases of the U.S. Marshals Service Major International Fugitives Wanted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration Most Wanted by the U.S. Customs Office, U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service. Most Wanted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Top 10 Fugitives of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations
Understand, the Patriot Act does much more than this, but I want to draw attention to this one, financial, aspect. The Patriot Act justified the collaboration of banking institutions and the federal government to track and report citizen’s financial activity. The unconstitutional nature of the Federal Reserve is also partially to blame to for this because it simply made this collaboration much easier.
The Department of Justice used the 9/11 crisis to join banks and the government together, looking for any “major criminal activity”.
Today, The Department of Justice is using the COVID crisis to take their power over the citizen’s financial privacy to the next level.
The Biden’s Administration’s current tax plan is looking to introduce a comprehensive financial account information reporting regime. Yes, you read that right, a regime. You’d think those in power would feel the need to avoid words that sound oppressive; but, American’s lack of knowledge, interest, or deep research gives government the leeway to use such words. So, here’s the direct quote from the tax plan on the Department of Treasury’s website:
This proposal would create a comprehensive financial account information reporting regime. Financial institutions would report data on financial accounts in an information return. The annual return will report gross inflows and outflows with a breakdown for physical cash, transactions with a foreign account, and transfers to and from another account with the same owner. This requirement would apply to all business and personal accounts from financial institutions, including bank, loan, and investment accounts,2 with the exception of accounts below a low de minimis gross flow threshold of $600 or fair market value of $600. Other accounts with characteristics similar to financial institution accounts will be covered under this information reporting regime. In particular, payment settlement entities would collect Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) and file a revised Form 1099-K expanded to all payee accounts (subject to the same de minimis threshold), reporting not only gross receipts but also gross purchases, physical cash, as well as payments to and from foreign accounts, and transfer inflows and outflows.
Right now, there are three reasons the government or court can ask a bank to freeze a citizen’s account.
- Suspicious or illegal activity
- Unpaid debts through creditors
- Unpaid debts to the government
The interesting thing about the new proposed Biden tax plan, in conjunction with the “three reasons” listed above, along with the intense oversight because of the Patriot Act, is this: all of this power is arbitrary therefore it can be used for anything. Who defines suspicious or illegal activity? Much like civil asset forfeiture, the due process part of our Constitutional Republic is missing. If someone is found guilty of a crime, then it makes a bit more sense for government to take control of private property; but anything prior to a solid conviction is arbitrary, unconfined power over the citizenry.
What’s to stop our government, who would be tracking every single transaction should this tax proposal pass, from ordering banks to freeze the accounts of political dissidents … or for any other reason they deem “necessary”?
Nothing. If they can do one thing outside the Constitution, they can do anything. Further, if people are comfortable with private businesses freezing accounts because of ideology or for holding an opposing political view, it’s not that long before they’re comfortable with government doing the same.
It’s time to wake up America and it’s time to wake our friends and family up. We may be horrified that Canada froze accounts for their citizens, but such power is, sadly, closer than we think.
The Liberty Belle