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06/03/2003 Archived Entry: "Patriot Act used to grab millions from banks -- without any suspicion of terrorism"


Last Friday the New York Times reported ... that the US Justice Dept. in secret has begun using counter terrorism powers to seize millions of dollars from foreign banks that do business in the US. And the kicker is that, according to one government official, "the seizures have involved fraud and money laundering investigations that are unrelated to terrorism." So can the IRS tax collectors be far behind?

These seizures are not based on criminal convictions or even indictments for alleged crimes. They're based solely on suspicions of US government agents. They base their money grabs on Sec. 319 of the PATRIOT Act that gave federal money police the power to seize unrelated cash that passes through banks in the US. Although these extraordinary powers were to be used to fight terrorism, the money grabbers are confiscating funds for non-terror crimes. All they must do is convince a judge that the money deposited overseas at the bank "was obtained illicitly." No probable cause. No due process. No notice and no appeal.

Millions have been snatched from foreign banks' US "correspondent accounts" in American banks, which usually are nothing more than a cash flow to facilitate US-offshore bank transactions. Thanks to federal judges who seal the records of the pending cases, America knows little about these cash seizures.

Congress passed the PATRIOT Act without even knowing what was in it. Less than six weeks after 9/11, the Congress rammed through a 362 page law, sight unseen, with few members having the courage to oppose one of the worst attacks on the American liberties ever enacted into law.

Now maybe they will discover what havoc they wrought. Welcome to the New America.

Posted by Claire @ 01:34 PM CST

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