The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a branch of the US Treasury Department, has been accused of urging financial institutions to inspect the private transactions of their clients for potential suspicious activity related to protected political or religious expression. This accusation comes from Representative Jim Jordan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. He stated that, as a way to detect illegal activities, FinCEN issued materials outlining the ‘typologies’ of potential persons of interest, including those stating certain political terminologies.
A prime concern here is the suggestion that purchase of books, particularly religious texts, conveying ‘extremist views’ can be categorized as a red flag. This leads to the question of what qualifies as ‘extremist views’. In recent times, following the Capitol Breach, the FBI listed ‘increased socio-political pressures’ as potential triggers mobilizing ‘criminal actors and domestic violent extremists to violence.’
Rep. Jordan’s position is that the sweeping generalizations and seemingly unwarranted investigations into individuals’ private transactions and constitutionally protected speech are raising serious doubts about FinCEN’s respect for fundamental civil liberties. Jordan has requested a transcribed interview to gain insight into this apparent inspection into constitutionally protected religious behavior, political activity, and personal travel.
At the heart of this issue is the worry that ‘potential’ shooters, i.e., people who may possess different political beliefs and own guns, are being unduly scrutinized. Jordan argues that these actions mirror the Obama-era ‘Operation Choke Point’ in which regulators intimidated banks into curtailing financial services for individuals of whom they disapproved. This, according to Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, signals a bias against conservatives, those disagreeing with the administration, and Trump supporters. This bias is deemed to infringe directly upon constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, thereby sparking concerns about the objectivity and legality of FinCEN’s activities.