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<div id="featuretext"> <pre> FinCEN: Big Brother After All? Steven Bercu Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility Washington, DC Office December 1991 On April 25, 1990, without fanfare and with virtually no media attention, Secretary of the Treasury Nicholas Brady signed an Executive Order1 breathing official life into one of the greatest potential threats to civil liberties in this nation�s history. That order established the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (�FinCEN�), an ambitious office dedicated to fighting drug trafficking and other financial crime. From the beginning, FinCEN was conceived as a technologyintensive operation that would bring sophisticated techniques of data collection and analysis to bear against shrewd international criminals who had grown adept at masking their illegal activities beneath elusive electronic transactions. The effort would involve not only the combined efforts of criminal justice experts from an alphabet-soup of federal agencies, but state, local, and foreign crimefighters, strategically positioned members of the private sector,
and, especially, a dazzling variety of public and private data bases. Here we will look briefly at the scale and scope of this new institution, its mission, its methods, the benefits it holds out, the risks it creates, the questions it raises, and what it might mean for the future. FinCEN�s Mission An alarming aspect of FinCEN�s inception is that, in the same literature that describes in glowing terms its future effectiveness against various criminal activities, its mission is always spoken of in a vague and open-ended manner. Currently, FinCEN�s primary mission is to assist in the War on Drugs by detecting narcotics traffickers in the act of money laundering.2 Loosely, money laundering3 means funnelling cash transactions through a variety of domestic and foreign financial and commercial institutions--banks, businesses, real estate, checkcashing services, etc., so that they become difficult to trace or detect, in an effort to turn �dirty� cash proceeds of illegal activity into �clean,� untraceable assets.4 �FinCEN is a financial-intelligence complex designed to bring all the government�s huge currency, banking and law-enforcement data under one roof and then run them through computers to sniff out promising leads in the drugmoney hunt.�5 According to the government, �FinCen�s mission is to provide a government-wide, multisource intelligence and analytical network in support of the detection, investigation, and prosecution of domestic and international money laundering and other financial crimes by Federal, State, local, and foreign law enforcement agencies.�6 The government places no limits on the scope of participation (�government-wide�), the range of datacollection possibilities (�multisource�), or the types of illegal activities that might in the future be targeted (�other financial crimes�). A Treasury official closely linked to FinCEN recently said: �Money factors into every dirty deed out there, but a preponderance of the activity pertains to drugs.�7 And the Director of FinCEN himself has indicated that he is fully aware of the catch-all
nature of the designation, �other financial crimes�: In order to fully comprehend the important role FinCEN plays in law enforcement, it is first necessary to understand the significance of financial crimes and, in particular, the laundering of the illicit proceeds by virtually all the criminal element. With the possible exception of crimes of passion and certain terrorist-related activity, all criminal acts are committed for one reason--profit.8 Thus, even though FinCEN was established under the President�s National Drug Control Strategy, it has been making every effort to define a larger mission for itself. In character, perhaps, with all intelligence conduits, FinCEN has already demonstrated an insatiable craving for information irrespective of the immediate task at hand. Recently, Brian Bruh, the FinCEN Director, expressed frustration at FinCEN�s inability to take dominion over one of the most secretive and personal of government data bases, one containing information on most adult Americans: the individual IRS files: �We�d love to get our hands on it, but it�s too difficult to open the door because of the guarantees to individuals that tax files are confidential.�9 FinCEN, according to Mr. Bruh, has found jurisdiction, ex nihilo, in an octopus-like range of law-enforcement areas, many of which have been traditionally entrusted to other agencies: Although current conditions within the United States and around the world demand that a greater emphasis be placed upon narcotics-related matters, FinCEN also routinely develops intelligence relating to all forms of criminal activity: in particular, such white collar crime as fraud perpetrated against financial institutions, commercial crimes, and tax evasion.10 Again, there is no commitment to an outer boundary for FinCen�s potential activities; the definition is open-ended.11 While many policy concerns may favor the aggregation and linkage of law-enforcement-intelligence efforts, it is troubling that such a broad effort should have gotten underway in a shroud
of silence, free of media attention or public comment, tucked away as a subdepartment within a quiet federal agency. While other intelligence agencies may have their shortcomings, they are at least subject to some degree of public accountability and to a well established process of congressional oversight. Where are the checks and stops on FinCEN�s sub rosa manipulations of financial data? FinCEN�s Methods At the heart of FinCEN is a powerful �expert system,� a form of artificial intelligence that uses a set of rules to emulate the thought processes of human experts who are particularly skilled at solving a given, nonquantifiable sort of problem. In the case of FinCEN, presumably, the human experts at the base of the program specialized in probing financial fraud and spotting suspicious movements of funds. FinCEN�s expert system, known as the Customs Artificial Intelligence System (CAIS), which contains over 2,000 rules,12 begins its analysis by focusing on two data bases: �These are generated by IRS Form 4789, which reports domestic currency transactions of more than $10,000, and Customs� Form 4790, which reports on the international transportation of money entering the United States.�13 With money laundering perceived as a major law-enforcement challenge, we now have a system where �when more than $10,000 is deposited or withdrawn from a bank, taken into or out of the country, paid in cash for goods or even won at a casino table, the IRS, Customs and now FinCEN want to know about it.�14 Of course, the lion�s share of these transactions is legitimate,15 and there are over 700,000 such transactions each month.16 FinCEN must do what would require an army of auditors if left to humans: piece through these transactions in order to flag those that appear suspicious. This has been likened to searching for a needle in a haystack, only harder, because here the needle does not want to be found.17 In order to zero in on truly suspicious transactions, FinCEN compares the transactions flagged by CAIS with personal and financial information drawn from government, private, and
foreign data bases. The aim is to create a data �profile� of individuals transporting large sums of money, then to match these individual profiles against the typical patterns of money launderers. FinCEN might, for example, invoke a Customs data base called the Treasury Enforcement and Control System (�TECS II�): TECS II links related information and provides a picture of a suspected drug trafficker. �If a subject of interest owns a boat or whatever, all of that information would be tied in,� [according to the director of lawenforcement systems at Customs,] �We improved ways to share that information. By using subrecords, users can look at information from Customs, DEA,� and other agencies.18 This large scale, cross-agency use of personal and financial information raises questions consent, transparency, minimization, and abuse. It is hard to see how most individuals could even be aware of FinCEN�s linkage of data bases and profiling, let alone find ways to object to nonconsensual use of data about them, to correct errors, to demand that CAIS� �interrogations� and FinCEN�s electronic �searches� be held to some constitutional standard, or to insist that the flow of their personal information along successive links of a chain of inquisitive public and private investigative, regulatory, prosecutorial, or financial institutions be appropriately limited. Where does one go to lodge objections? Does one knock on the door of the �nondescript, low, white office building in a Washington suburb�19 that houses FinCEN? The various press releases from FinCEN and the Treasury are reticent on these points. Rod MacDonald, a Customs official responsible for TECS II, FinCEN�s close cousin, claims that �several safeguards have been built into the system to protect the public at large from a breach of privacy.� With the amount of matching and swapping of information involved in the TECSII/FinCEN operations, it would be interesting to know what these safeguards are, but MacDonald �declined to elaborate on the safeguards because of the sensitive nature of such information.�20 MacDonald�s comment underscores
the asymmetry of these data bases: they are entitled to know about you, but you are not entitled to know about them. Expert systems work by posing large numbers of questions as they move along an analytical tree toward conclusions or weighted outcomes. Unless there is a rich background field of information to provide answers, the expert system will fail; it cannot succeed if its queries are not answered. Given this technological premise of inquisitiveness, the use of such systems by government agencies for detection, surveillance, profiling, and eventual prosecution raises disturbing civil liberties implications.21 And CAIS, the present 2000-rule system, is apparently destined to be replaced by a more powerful system, being developed behind shrouds of secrecy under a threeyear, $2.4 million contract at Los Alamos National Laboratory, using supercomputers and state-or-the-art algorithms and artificial intelligence methods.22 If this new analytical engine, as can be expected, builds more sophisticated models and profiles through greater inquisitiveness, then the clear implication is an increased thirst for pools of information to answer the system�s queries.23 The main way to incorporate large amounts of new information of different sorts is to build bridges to yet more data bases. In the next section, we will examine present and potential sources of information for FinCEN. FinCEN is above all, as we will see in the next section, a tool for the centralization of information from disparate sources; its raison d�etre is to match one fact to another: say, a check cashed at a border outpost in the California desert,24 together with a European crime file. An important normative question to ask is: Outside the context of the War on Drugs, in what other ways might FinCEN�s accumulation of skill in centralizing information--in matching, combining, comparing, and linking facts in order to reveal hidden activities, to tell certain kinds of stories--be deployed? In what ways, for example, could such sorting analysis be turned against law-
abiding citizens? What if the private sector got hold of technologies and techniques like those being nurtured at FinCEN? Almost certainly, there are profit incentives to abuse such powerful techniques to create unheralded invasions of civil liberties. FinCEN�s Sources Because FinCEN�s operations are data-intensive and are premised on inferential links between many different sorts of data, we will examine the potential sources of that data in an effort to see what social role FinCEN might come to play in our society. Many data bases have already been mentioned by FinCEN as useful adjuncts to its operations. FinCEN�s most important data base is called the Financial Data Base: The data in the Financial Data Base [are] gleaned from reports that are required to be filed pursuant to the Bank Secrecy Act and include the Currency Transaction Report (CTR), Report of International Transportation of Currency or Monetary Instruments (CMIR); Currency Transaction Report by Casinos (CTRC); and Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). In addition, FinCEN accesses data from the Reports of Cash Payments Over $10,000 Received in a Trade or Business, which is required to be filed by the Internal Revenue Code.25 But this cash-transaction information is only the point of departure. Director Bruh paints in broad strokes the picture of the many data bases FinCEN will ultimately encompass: FinCEN has [negotiated] or is in the process of negotiating access and dissemination authority for various Federal law enforcement data bases maintained by the Federal sector which contain information useful in financial investigations. FinCEN also procures access to a variety of commercially maintained data banks which are valuable in locating individuals, determining asset ownership and establishing links between entities.26 Director Bruh, in this statement, has effectively not ruled out a
single data base as being beyond FinCEN�s purview. The contemplated use of commercial data bases could potentially involve just about any sort of personal information imaginable,27 from magazine subscription lists to organization membership lists to telephone records to supermarketpurchase data. And the vacuum-like ingestion of data banks will not be constrained by national borders. In October 1990, FinCEN signed an informationsharing agreement with Interpol: �The pact would give FinCEN...access to Interpol�s worldwide data....FinCEN will have access to the Interpol Case Tracking System by electronic and manual means.�28 FinCEN also, from the beginning, intended to secure access to information that would be quite personal in nature. While individual bank records and tax forms were off limits, there remained commercial databases containing an enormous variety of personal information. Corporation and real estate records from states and localities would provide further welcome detail. In addition, FinCEN�s data base includes �drivers license information and other sources, including credit bureau data.� And, demonstrating its characteristically voracious appetite for facts, FinCEN �is studying ways of expanding that base.�29 The operative question is: what are the boundaries, guidelines, and rules for this use of information? Who dictates them? Who is watching? As stated, FinCEN has no discernible, and certainly no �public,�guidelines or policies for appropriately minimizing and restricting its information diet. This despite the fact that its bailiwick includes some of the most sensitive varieties of personal information. However laudable FinCen�s current goal of detecting narcotics traffickers and depriving them of the fruits of their crimes, one cannot ignore the troubling precedents that FinCEN�s pathbreaking linkage and analysis of data is sure to create. In the same document that summoned FinCEN into existence, the Bush Administration announced a new �Intelligence Agenda� for fighting the War on Drugs. This agenda included massive interagency sharing30 of information collected for any
number of purposes, on order to �consolidate and coordinate all relevant intelligence gathered by law-enforcement agencies�:31 This could mean the linking of certain CIA files with files from the national Security Agency; the Treasury Department�s FINCEN [sic] system;...the El Paso Intelligence Center drug archives; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; the IRS; the State Department; the Immigration and Naturalization Service; and [the FBI�s] Drug Information System and other FBI files.32 Even before FinCEN began operations, it was described as �the first central repository of information for agencies trying to crack down on an estimated $100 billion in illegal drug profits.�33 More recently, a FinCEN assistant director characterized the Office as basically, �a centralized location for information.�34 During its startup phase, officials involved with FinCEN planning made statements that, while envisioning unprecedented government centralization of information, showed little sensitivity to the privacy or information rights of citizens: [FinCEN] will be enhanced by potentially 100 other data bases. We might gain access to computerized land records and real estate records, for example....We already have in excess of 35 data systems....We�ve been talking to the FDIC, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Reserve, and we�re studying their systems. In many cases, we want to get people from those agencies assigned to us, to help us in the dissemination of the information.35 This raises the question of staffing. FinCEN now has a staff of over 200 �financial gumshoes.�36 Beyond the data bases overtly associated with FinCEN, the staffing of the Office gives other clues as to what information resources are to be enlisted in FinCEN�s wide-ranging analytical projects.37 Less than a year after its inception, FinCEN�s director reported that: FinCEN is currently staffed by criminal investigators from BATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms), Customs, DEA, FBI, IRS, Postal Inspection Service, and Secret Service.... FinCEN is establishing a working
relationship with state, foreign and local law enforcement agencies as well.38 Around the time that it was launched, FinCEN was reported to have links to the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency, and the French government was said to be creating a FinCEN counterpart.39 In short, it is evident that FinCEN seeks relationships with any major power base with access to large amounts of records and information on individuals, businesses, and organizations. As agencies put their heads together to commingle information collected for discrete, unrelated purposes, there is no telling what sorts of activities, patterns, and transactions they will find it convenient or expedient to trace. It is frequently observed that, once a technology exists, there is a temptation to use it (this has been offered to explain everything from war to snowmobiling). Once FinCEN�s massive combinatory potential is in place, and the bugs are worked out, what might the government be interested to keep track of? An important corollary to this inquiry is to ask how FinCEN might serve a tyrannical successor regime, should it seize power in this country, as a means of control. There is little question that this anti-drug tool could also serve as a potent instrument of repression. FinCEN Uses FinCEN has cropped up in the news as a sidelight to a number of prominent international episodes and scandals in the short period since its inception. We have seen the great variety of information sources available to FinCEN. The high-profile uses to which it has been put suggest a corresponding variety of potential applications. FinCEN has apparently been extensively used against the Medellin Cartel,40 the Columbian cocaine ring. The financial sleuths busily watch for new wrinkles in Medellin activities. One emerging scheme [according to FinCEN director Bruh] works this way: Columbian drug suppliers set up partnerships with businessmen who have operations in the United States. They take their drug cash to a businessman�s U.S. office, where it is commingled with legitimate earnings. In exchange, the businessman pays them pesos back in Columbia.41
FinCEN was also used extensively in analyzing bank records seized in the U.S. invasion of Panama. Analysts were able to trace �$1 billion from U.S. drug sales to 683 cartel accounts in 37 Panamanian banks. They [hoped next] to match names in the Panamanian accounts with numbered electronic money transfers that have been monitored by the National Security Agency since the mid-1980s.�42 This application demonstrates the power of interagency data-sharing and the enormous potential to target individuals. During the Gulf War, FinCEN, though far less visible, was apparently as potent a weapon against Iraqi forces as a Tomahawk missile or a stealth bomber: �FinCEN...was reported to have been instrumental in uncovering Iraqi assets in America that were later seized or frozen during the Persian Gulf crisis.� FinCEN used its �three major data bases� to accomplish this: �financial information and intelligence;... commercial data, such as corporate and property ownership records from state sources;� and �law enforcement case files and intelligence from the various federal agencies.� By using these materials, �In a very rapid time, FinCEN was able to identify assets that allowed [the Office of Foreign Assets Control] to freeze 11 bank accounts and assets in California, Georgia and New York, corporate assets and a $3.5 million real estate parcel. The properties belonged to people suspected of being fronts for Saddam Hussein or who are suspected of having traded with Iraq in violation of the law.�43 It is worth contemplating the sorts of information FinCEN analysts might have to mull over in order to make these sorts of deductions in �very rapid time.� Currently, FinCEN is being used heavily by the government as part of the investigation of BCCI.44 Though there have been suggestions that federal authorities were in fact aware of BCCI�s lawless activities for some time before the public exposure, one is left to ask whether FinCEN, for all its avowed sophistication, in fact failed to detect illicit movements of funds on a massive, highly orchestrated level. Doubts are cast especially in light of BCCI�s reputation for �laundering...funds for drug lords and other
criminals.�45 If in fact FinCEN did miss the boat on BCCI, perhaps its bark is greater than its bite. Many technologies promise the world but in practice deliver far less. But as we will see in the next section, even if FinCEN in its current incarnation is not as effective as both its boosters and detractors might have us believe, that is not a reason to treat it lightly. First, the techniques of FinCEN can be refined, revised, and improved over time. And second, even if not particularly efficient or effective in practice, an institution that is known to centralize and analyze information can make a powerful psychological impression on those aware of its existence. FinCEN Threats We have noted many ways in which FinCEN promises to traffic in information of a highly sensitive and personal nature: financial records, criminal records, property records, credit reports, state and local filing records, drivers� license records, and amorphous �commercial databases.� Not only do many of these types of record systems contain inaccurate or incomplete information, vulnerable to distortion or misinterpretation, but they are ripe for countless forms of abuse: temptations to use the technology for improper purposes; intrusive shortcuts that bypass procedural, due process protections; unauthorized access by those who can profit from FinCEN�s data or use it to wreak havoc; political surveillance; unwholesome links to and fostering of private intelligence agencies; and unregulated, invisible expansion of government power through means that circumvent public comment and political accountability.46 In addition to reaching into the wallets, briefcases, and homes of citizens to look at their personal records, FinCEN has potential to reach and scrutinize a great variety of small-scale, ordinary businesses and activities that touch the lives of millions of people, and that have done nothing to provoke a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing: Laundering methods are changing to keep ahead of the authorities. With banks now off-limits for many big laundering operations [due primarily to the
IRS and Customs filing requirements discussed above], cash washers are increasingly turning to a host of virtually unregulated financial institutions-like check-cashing houses all over the country and money exchanges known as casas de cambio that have spread like poison ivy along the Mexican border. More and more, launderers are a so covering the trail of their drug-tainted cash by turning it into purchased of cars, boats, jewelry or art.47 These unregulated financial institutions are in fact the �banks� of necessity for countless Americans who lack the financial stability to be granted privileges at more reputable banks. In many poorer neighborhoods, mainline banks do not even bother to set up branches. Will FinCEN possibly become a mechanism to deprive people of rights and privacy on the basis of their lack of solvency? Another question is that of the differential impact of a surveillance tool like FinCEN on businesses particularly oriented toward cash. One thinks of car dealers, newsstands, or companies doing business in thirdworld countries where banking infrastructures are not well developed and the economies revolve around cash. What are the fallouts from singling out such activities or potentially catching them within the dragnet of a suspicious expert system? Will newsstands be deterred from stocking political or sexual materials under present or future political puritans or ideologues? Will car dealers be deterred from striking bargains with �shady characters�? Will a burden be placed on legitimate and desirable international trade? Will small businesses without sophisticated economic practices be disproportionately scrutinized and persecuted. If the answers to these and other questions are �no,� then where do the controls and restraints come from? Not, surely, from FinCEN itself, which has demonstrated no qualms over the ethical ambiguity of its practices and has no formal public policies regarding minimization of data collection, assurance of personal privacy, or guarantees against governmental over-reaching. Is FinCEN Legal?
FinCEN might not be legal. A number of federal statutes govern the handling of various kinds of information by government, and it is difficult to say whether FinCEN, which operates very quietly, is complying by them all. It would be valuable for someone to canvass these statutes and figure out exactly which should apply to FinCEN and what meaningful obstacles they present to the growth and accession of power for FinCEN. Relevant statutes at least include the Computer Matching Act, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, the Privacy Act, the Bank Secrecy Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Electronic Funds Transfer Act, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Three months after its birth, FinCEN applied for exemption from the strictures imposed by several of these lwws.48 Among other requests, FinCEN sought to be relieved from notice requirements compelling it to tell the public what is in its data bases, sought to bar the public from access to its data bases, sought to deny individuals the right to know whether the system contains records containing information about them, sought to deny individuals the right to amend incorrect about themselves contained in a FinCEN database, sought permission to collect information beyond what is �relevant and necessary to accomplish a FinCen purpose,� sought relief from a requirement that agencies notify individuals when making a record on that individual available for other uses, and sought waiver of a requirement that federal records be held to certain standards of accuracy. The various provisions in federal law that require agencies to provide notice to individuals when creating or sharing files about them reflect the principle that the public has the basic right to know what the government knows about them, and who is being to told. Exemption from these notice provisions will effectively allow FinCEN to operate at a level of hidden-ness and invisibility largely incompatible with current law: The bill would let local, state, federal, and international lawenforcement agencies provide information on suspected drug dealers to [FinCEN], without providing notification of the transfer of such information to
individuals....The bill contains several amendments to the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which exempts financial institutions from requirements that they notify customers that information has been passed on to a federal agency. This information, in turn, then could be passed on to FinCEN....Agencies can �transfer to FinCEN and other agencies customer account information subject to the Right to Financial Privacy Act without having to provide notice of such transfer.49 FinCEN thus continues aggressively to press at the confines of its mission, to secure new pipelines of information, and to lobby for a carte blanche to conduct its activities outside public scrutiny. Why does our society now have a FinCEN and do we need one? To a startling extent, such questions currently appear to have little role in the political process. We may have a long way to go before a FinCEN can work as well as a tyrant might want it to. But we have just as far if not farther to go before we can make meaningful social assessments of such technologies and institutions, weigh their costs and benefits, and find sensible ways to control them. As one observer noted in reference to the FBI�s use of financial data bases, �Long after the public appetite for social control recedes, the infrastructure of social control will be in place, up and running.�50 1 Department of the Treasury Order No. 105-08. 2 FinCEN was created as part of President Bush�s National Drug Control Strategy. �Brian M. Bruh Appointed Director of Treasury Department�s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network,� Treasury Department press release, March 20, 1990. 3 See generally Ingo Walter, The Secret Money Market: Inside the Dark World of Tax Evasion, Financial Fraud, Insider Trading, Money Laundering, and Capital Flight, (New York: Harper Business) 1985, and especially chap. 6, �Demand for Secret Money: Money Laundering and Undercover Activities.� 4 A more colorful description of the process appeared several years ago in Time: The multibillion-dollar flow of black money, the profits from criminal enterprise, moves through the world�s financial institutions as part of a vastly larger quantity of gray money, as bankers call it. This dubious, laundered
cash amounts to an estimated $1 trillion or more each year. Often legitimately earned, this money has an endless variety of sources: an Argentine businessman who dodges currencycontrol laws to get hiss savings out of the country; a multinational corporation that seeks to �minimize� its tax burden by dumping its profits in tax-free havens; a South African investor who wants to avoid economic sanctions; an East German Communist leader who stashed a personal nest egg in Swiss bank accounts; or even t he CIA and KGB when they need to finance espionage or covert activities overseas. Jonathan Beaty and Richard Hornik, �A Torrent of Dirty Dollars; Money Laundering Is A Runaway Global Industry That Serves Customers Ranging from Cocaine Cartels to Tax-Dodging Corporations,� Time, Dec., 18, 1989, p. 50. According to another source, in 1990, �The Clearing House Interbank Payment System, or CHIPS, the main processing center for [electronic fund] transfers...handled some 37 million transactions worth $222 trillion.� Gordon Witkin, �Washing the Dirtiest Money,� U.S. News, Vol. 3, No. 9, Aug. 26, 1991, p. 38. 5 Gordon Witkin, �Washing the Dirtiest Money,� U.S. News, Vol. 3, No. 9, Aug. 26, 1991, p. 38. 6 �Privacy Act of 1974; Notice of Proposed Rule Exempting a System of Records from Certain Requirements,� Federal Register, Vol. 55, No. 142, Tuesday, July 24, 1990. 7 Earl Combs, senior intelligence research specialist at Treasury, quoted in Jennifer Richardson and Bob Brewin, �High-Tech Drug Wars,� Federal Computer Week, April 23, 1990, p. 24. (Hereafter, Richardson & Brewin). 8 Fact Sheet, FinCEN Director, February 1991, emphasis added, p. 1. 9 Quoted in Bob Brewin and Jennifer Richardson, �Drug Bill Would Ease Fed Access to Records,� Federal Computer Week, Vol. 4, No. 20, May 21, 1990, p. 37. 10 Fact Sheet, p. 3. 11 Shortly after FinCEN commenced operations, Director Bruh stated that 50% to 70% of the Office�s resources would be directed against the narcotics trade. The remainder of resources �would be targeted against other crimes involving a financial component including illegal weapons sales and technology transfer violations.� �Treasury�s Financial Crimes Office Begins Operations, Director Says,� BNA�s Banking Report, May 28, 1990, Vol. 54, No. 21, p. 904.
12 David W. Robb, �Computer Center Tracks Criminals by Their Finances,� Government Computer News, April 30, 1990, p. 66. 13 Richardson & Brewin, p. 24. 14 Robb, p. 66. 15 According to Treasury analyst Earl Combs, �An overwhelming percentage of the transactions are not derogatory.... Most are legitimate.� Richardson & Brewin, p. 24. 16 Robb, p. 66. 17� A-Bomb Birthplace Helps Target Cash; Needles in Haystack Don�t Want To Be Found,� Money Laundering Alert,, September, 1990, Vol. 1, No. 12, p. 3. 18 Richardson & Brewin, p. 24. 19 Witkin, p. 38. The Washington suburb is Arlington, Virginia. Darryl K. Taft, �FinCEN Enlists IBM Server To Fight War on Drugs; Treasury Department�s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.� Government Computer News, May 13, 1991. 20 Richardson & Brewin, p. 24. 21 Before FinCEN got off the ground, its acting director, Daniel J. Ripa, opined enthusiastically, �We will search the data base using any combination you can think of, any pattern you can think of.� Quoted in the American Banker, Nov. 9, 1989. 22 �A-Bomb Birthplace Helps Target Cash.� The article also indicates that, contrary to popular perception, Los Alamos only devotes half of its work to arms control, nuclear weaponry, and related issues. It devotes considerable work to counterterrorism and counternarcotics efforts. 23 This implication is bolstered by the Los Alamos spokesman who stated that �the challenge of the [FinCEN] project is to improve the capability of federal agencies to �recognize targets� in the face of mountains of financial data which they gather from a multitude of sources� in order to detect the movement of illegal money �contained in the trillions of dollars that move by wire transfer in and out of the U.S. on a weekly basis.� Ibid., emphasis added. Almost a trillion dollars is transferred by international wire transfers every day. �Banks Feel Pressure To Halt Money Laundering,� Reuters, Financial Report, Domestic Money, Money Report, May 2, 1990, BC cycle. 24 �[A] potential laundering spot that has caught FinCEN�s eye is the hundreds of casas de cambio that dot Southern California and the border with Mexico. Set up to exchange dollars for pesos and vice versa and transmit money abroad, the casas handle enormous amounts of cash with far less regulation than banks.� Los Angeles
Times, June 26, 1991. 25 Fact Sheet, p. 2. 26 Ibid. 27 One type of record to which FinCEN apparently will not have access is individual bank accounts. �Banks Feel Pressure To Halt Money Laundering,� Reuters, Financial Report, Domestic Money, Money Report, May 2, 1990, BC cycle. 28 �Latin Nations Approve System To Track Drug Money,� Money Laundering Alert, May, 1991, p. 7. 29 Money Laundering Alert, June 1990. 30 Ironically, among those most worried about the implications of such sharing are the DEA and FBI themselves, not because of ethical implications, but because of concerns on the parts of �DEA and FBI field agents that confidential informant data is protected adequately in any interagency computer system.� Richardson & Newin, p. 22. 31 White House National Drug Control Strategy, 1990, p. 83. 32 Katz, p. 52. This author also reports that, by the mid-1980s, �there were 3,530,000,000 files on individuals housed in federal government computers alone,� or about fifteen per person. P. 51. 33 The American Banker, Nov. 9, 1989. 34 Ronald F. Rice, assistant director for Office of Systems Integration, FinCEN, quoted in Darryl K. Taft, �FinCEN enlists IBM Server to Fight War on Drugs; Treasury Department�s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.� Government Computer News, May 13, 1991. 35 Ibid. 36 Witkin, p. 38. 37 In this context, it is interesting to note that FinCEN director Brian Bruh has an extensive civil service background in the IRS, the Department of Defense, and the General Services Administration. �Brian M. Bruh Appointed Director of FinCEN,� Treasury Department Press Release, March 20, 1990. 38 Fact Sheet, p. 2. 39 �Brian Bruh Named Director of Treasury�s FINCEN,� Money Laundering Alert, April, 1990. 40 Bill Atkinson, �Treasury Rolls Out High-Tech Drug Unit,� American Banker, May 21, 1990, p. 6. 41 Los Angeles Times, June 26, 1991. 42 Ned Zeman and Lucy Howard, �A Trove,� Newsweek, July 2, 1990, p. 4. 43 �FinCEN�s Financial Missiles Strike Iraq, Saddam,� Money Laundering Alert, April 1991, Vol. 2, No.7, p. 3. 44 Witkin.