Through the same legal go-ahead and Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court used by the NSA to grab phone records, the CIA is collecting American’s international money transactions into a “vast database,” according to officials who spoke to The Wall Street Journal. The data is reportedly gathered from money transfer services, such as Western Union, and aims to track the financing of terrorists.
As with the NSA, the CIA is not allowed to target Americans in its intelligence-gathering process, but “domestic operations” are allowed, and as such the financial and personal data of “millions of Americans” are caught up in the mix, says the sources. These same individuals, who are said to be familiar with the program, state that it is meant as a gap fill for an area lacking in global terrorist financial tracking.
Furthermore, it is said that FISA has also given the FBI authorization to work with the CIA in this international transaction data collection process, which includes data on Americans. In some instances, information like United States social security numbers are gathered, in addition to basic financial data, and it has raised some hackles. The sources say this has proven successful in spotting patterns and terrorist relationships, with indications of domestic terrorist activity then being handled over to the FBI.
None of the data collected concerns transactions that are entirely domestic, according to the sources, and most of the data comes from “solely foreign” financial transactions. Among these are transactions that come and go to the United States, which is how Americans’ data gets swept up in the mix. Court orders are used to obtain the intelligence from institutions, and the CIA has stated that all operations have Congress oversight, internal watchdogs, law compliance, and FISA Court that it must adhere to.