George W. Bush's bank records spying
|This article is part of our coverage of the
Bush administration's domestic spying programs.
It was revealed June 23, 2006, that President George W. Bush's bank records spying program—the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program—is run by the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. 
Only weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration initiated the "secret" program through which "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," Eric Lichtblau and James Risen reported in the June 22, 2006, New York Times.
The Treasury Department obtained access to conduct bank records searches using the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), "a Belgium-based, bank-owned entity" , to capture "information on money moved in more than 200 countries," according to the Associated Press.  "Swift generally doesn't detect private, individual transactions in the U.S., such as withdrawals or deposits."
The Treasury Department said that the Bush administration is using SWIFT to "[scrutinize] millions of international banking transactions as part of an effort to track terrorists and disrupt the financing of their activities," Bloomberg News reported June 23, 2005.
"Treasury officials said the focus was on international money transfers and not on ordinary money transfers and deposits made within the U.S. What they didn't say was whether SWIFT was the only entity participating in the program," Forbes reported June 23, 2006.
From the Bush administration
- "Statement of Treasury Secretary John W. Snow on Disclosure of the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, U.S. Department of the Treasury, June 22, 2006.
Articles & Commentary
- Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, "Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror," New York Times, June 22, 2006.
- Jeannine Aversa and Katherine Shrader, "U.S. Gets Access to Worldwide Banking Data," Associated Press (Washington Post), June 22, 2006.
- "Swift Press Release on the Program. Statement released by the banking cooperative Swift on its participation in the U.S. government's anti-terror efforts," Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2006.
- "SWIFT statement on compliance policy," SWIFT.com, June 23, 2006.
- "Newspapers reveal fund-tracking despite feds' pleas," Associated Press (First Amendment Center), June 23, 2006.
- Jaime Jansen, "CIA reviewed financial records of Americans in international database," JURIST, June 23, 2006.
- Josh Meyer and Greg Miller, "Secret U.S. Program Tracks Global Bank Transfers. The Treasury Dept. program, begun after the Sept. 11 attacks, attempts to monitor terrorist financing but raises privacy concerns," Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2006.
- "US defends secret money tracking," BBC, June 23, 2006: "US Treasury Secretary John Snow has defended a secret programme which has been tracking international money transactions for nearly five years."
- Barton Gellman, Paul Blustein and Dafna Linzer, "Bank Records Secretly Tapped. Administration Began Using Global Database Shortly After 2001 Attacks," Washington Post, June 23, 2006.
- "Provider of financial records to US had assurances," Reuters, June 23, 2006.
- "UPDATE 1-U.S. Treasury confirms bank records surveillance," Reuters, June 23, 2006.
- Jeannine Aversa, "Snow: Program Vital to War on Terrorism," Associated Press (Forbes), June 23, 2006.
- "US Official Defends Bank Records Search," Voice of America News, June 23, 2006.
- "Congress wrangles over bank records tracking. Democrats protest program, Republicans defend effort as vital in terror war," Associated Press (MSNBC), June 23, 2006.
- "Summary Box: Treasury Secretary on Spying," Associated Press (Forbes), June 23, 2006.
- "U.S. Probes Money Transfer Data in Anti-Terror Effort" (Update6), Bloomberg News, June 23, 2006.
- Liz Moyer, "Swift Defense," Forbes, June 23, 2006.
- William Branigin, "Treasury Department Defends Record Tapping," Washington Post, June 23, 2006.
- Suzanne Goldenberg, "Bush under fire over tracking of money transfers," Guardian Unlimited (UK), June 23, 2006.
- "Belgian financial cooperative confirms data transfer to US," Monsters and Critics (UK), June 23, 2006.
- Krishna Guha, "US monitors global financial transfers," Financial Times (UK), June 23, 2006.
- Justin Peters, "Following The Money," Slate, June 23, 2006.
- Joe Strupp, "Lichtblau of 'NYT' Explains Attempt to Halt His Bank Records Scoop," Editor & Publisher, June 23, 2006.
- Editorial: "Bank Surveillance. The Treasury Department should be monitoring overseas bank transfers. Congress should make sure it's done right," Washington Post, June 24, 2006.
- Jeannince Aversa, "Treasury defends monitoring program. Says checking bank transactions vital to antiterrorism," Associated Press (Boston Globe), June 24, 2006.
- "Money-tracking leak angers Cheney," BBC, June 24, 2006: "US Vice-President Dick Cheney has condemned as "offensive" US media disclosures of a secret programme that probes global financial transactions."
- Martin Crutsinger, "U.S. bank-record snooping called 'government at its best'," Chicago Sun-Times, June 24, 2006; Capitol Hill Blue.
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Eric Lichtblau, "Cheney Assails Press on Report on Bank Data," New York Times, June 24, 2006.
- Paul Blustein, "Financial Search Raises Privacy Fears," Washington Post, June 24, 2006.
- Editorial: "The right not to know," Washington Times, June 24, 2006.
- Joseph Curl, "Cheney defends bank data tracking," Washington Times, June 24, 2006.
- Glenn R. Simpson, "American Executive in Brussels Aided Terrorist-Tracking Program," Wall Street Journal, June 24, 2006: "The Treasury Department's secret terrorist-tracking program depended in part on the cooperation of Leonard "Lenny" Schrank, an American executive who heads the Belgium-based banking cooperative known as Swift. ... A gregarious technology whiz who graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Brooklyn-born Mr. Schrank ended up working closely with U.S. intelligence officials on the project when Swift received subpoenas from the Treasury Department ..." Preview/subscription required.
- Greg Miller and Josh Meyere, et al., "World's banks let U.S. plumb books," Los Angeles Times (Chicago Tribune), June 24, 2006.
- Jonathan Turley, "'Big Brother' Bush and Connecting the Data Dots. The Total Information Awareness program was killed in 2003, but its spawn present bigger threats to privacy," Los Angeles Times (Common Dreams), June 24, 2006.
- Terence Hunt, "Bush Slams Leak of Terror Financing Info," Associated Press (Forbes), June 26, 2006.
- "Bush condemns leak of bank program. Officials criticize newspaper over story on anti-terror program," CNN, June 27, 2006.
- Byron York, "'A Good Program…to Make Us Safer…Is Over.' A September 11 commission co-chairman talks about the damage done by the latest New York Times leak," National Review Online, June 28, 2006.
- "Top falsehoods about NY Times and Bush bank-tracking program," Media Matters for America, June 29, 2006.
- "Terror Finance Reports Targeted. House votes along party lines to condemn news media for revealing the secret money-tracking program. The New York Times defends its stand," Associated Press (Los Angeles Times), June 30, 2006.
- Richard A. Clarke and Roger W. Cressey, "Evil, not dumb," New York Times (International Herald Tribune), June 30, 2006.
- Rachael Lee Coleman, "Secret terrorist probe not so secret – or useful, insiders say," Moneylaundering.com, June 30, 2006.
- Judd Legum, "Feinstein: I Wasn’t Briefed On Bank Records Program Until Administration Knew NYT Was Publishing," Think Progress, July 2, 2006. Includes transcript.
- John Amato, "Feinstein says she was not briefed on the Bank Program," Crooks and Liars, July 2, 2006. WMP and QT video links.
- Bill Gallagher, "Bush Busy Attacking Messengers as Terrorists Remain Unmolested," Niagara Falls Reporter, July 3, 2006.
- "ACLU suggests US may be spying on three other financial services," The Raw Story, July 19, 2006.
Related SourceWatch Resources
- Bank Secrecy Act
- data mining
- executive privilege
- Financial Crimes Enforcement Network
- George W. Bush's domestic spying / Related SourceWatch Resources