U.S. & European cooperation: vital for security or just Big Brother?

February 10, 2010

A committee of the European Union’s parliament has recommended the suspension of a program that allows the United States to obtain information on transactions and accounts from the Brussels-based banking transfer service known as SWIFT.

The program has been important to U.S. law enforcement investigations since 9/11.  Gen Jim Jones, U.S. National Security Advisor, has urged Europe to reconsider the bank deal.  It is vital in combatting financial crimes, Jones argued, including stopping Al Qaeda from expanding its foothold into the African Sahel.

In other news, the FinCEN, an agency of the U.S. Treasury, has floated a new rule for consideration that would enable U.S. states and local law enforcement to make requests for financial information under Sec. 314(a) of the Patriot Act.  Until now, only federal law enforcement has been able to request such information from foreign governments.

Does sharing information like this help with terrorist finance investigations, or does it represent the move toward a global big brother that will violate the financial privacy of American and EU citizens?


  1. “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face-for ever.” – George Orwell

    SOunds like big brother to us.

    • We are witnessing what seems to be ever increasing international cooperation to ferret out wealth, no matter where it is sheltered, in order to tax it. Given the global recession and busted national budgets, it’s easy to see why this is a tempting trend for so many governments.

      We see it with S. 569, we saw it with the penetration of Swiss bank accounts by our IRS, and by the proliferation of double tax agreements (DTAs) between countries.

      I don’t know enough about precisely what information SWIFT is storing and transmitting, or what safeguards are in place to say whether this particular program crosses the line into the category above.

      There may be sensitive or classified details, but what would be helpful is if Treasury could give us some actual aggregate stats on how successful the program has been to judge whether it’s worth keeping.

  2. Some Canadians are aware of a program called Secure Flight which will begin in December 2010. This is a U.S. Imperialist effort which will refuse Canadians suspected of having terrorist links from flying on airplanes that enter U.S. airspace… Even if the origin and destination are in Canada (Montreal to Vancouver for instance) or in another country such as Dominican Republic. I’m all for keeping terrorists out of U.S. airspace, but the U.S. has failed consistently to safeguard it’s own citizens from attacks it was aware of such as the “underwear bomber”. I wonder if Canada will have the authority to tell Americans they can’t board a plane flying from NYC to Alaska because they’re suspected of terrorism and the plane will travel over Canadian airspace… Not a chance. This is not about safety, it’s about neo-imperialism and the New World Order. Over 1 million Americans are added to the No-Fly-List each year. Most have no criminal record and do not know the reasons why they’ve been placed on the list. There is no process for appeal. I warn my American cousins to take control of your government quickly. Those who trade liberty for security will get neither.

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