Sunday, June 25, 2006

Extremes of BushCo: Bank Data Edition Episode II

Previously, I asked, “how long before we discover cooperation by individual financial institutions about transactions on individual accounts -- not just between financial institutions?”

Well, it didn’t take long for an answer. It took less than a day to discover that BushCo has been tracking most, if not all, credit card transactions and all Western Union wires transfers. The story has been largely ignored by the media hidden behind the zeal to portray Democrats as “cut and run” cowards and to promote fear by building up the credibility of a group of misfits and their plot to blow up the Sears Tower.

"First Data Corp., the world's largest processor of credit-card transactions and wire transfers, gave the FBI and CIA unfettered access to data on millions of customers..." (Denver Post, June 21)

The latest revelation comes from Ron Suskind’s book, "The One Percent Doctrine", but has been overlooked by major news outlets and I have not seen it discussed in recent interviews with Suskind on news and talk shows for his book tour. The Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post seem to be the only ones that have covered the story. From the Rocky Mountain News article, First Data tied to post-9/11 terror sweep:

In the days after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, First Data Corp. and its Western Union unit volunteered itself for the U.S. government's war on terror.

FBI agents happily turned the Greenwood Village-based company into a "deadly weapon" to fight terrorism, according to a new book by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind.

At the same time, however, the Bush administration used First Data to create a "vast search-and-seizure machine" that sifted through millions of Americans' credit-card purchases and wire transfers, unbeknownst to congressional overseers or the secret court designed to rule on matters of domestic surveillance, Suskind reported.

The Denver Post article, Book: First Data gave feds records, includes this:

First Data's computer systems served as the "FBI's own in-house search engine," and the CIA was allowed to monitor money-wire transactions in real time, according to "The One Percent Doctrine" by Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Suskind.

Greenwood Village-based First Data and its money-transfer subsidiary Western Union declined to answer questions from The Denver Post but issued a joint statement.


The FBI accepted the offer and conducted thousands of financial searches on First Data's computer systems in the weeks after the attacks. The FBI even set up a joint office with First Data near the company's processing center in Omaha.

The FBI cross-checked information with the National Security Agency, which received data on millions of phone customers and calls from the nation's telecommunications companies, Suskind wrote.


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