In a revealing development, the Biden administration has acknowledged the use of politically charged terms such as “MAGA,” “Trump,” and “Kamala” in federal investigations related to the January 6, 2021, Capitol protests. This admission came to light in a correspondence from the Treasury Department to Senator Tim Scott, shedding light on the surveillance practices post-Capitol riot.
The Treasury Department’s letter detailed that discussions convened by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) included a broad range of terms, among them “antifa,” “MAGA,” “Trump,” and “Kamala,” indicating a bipartisan scope of surveillance. This represents the first official confirmation of specific keywords tied to the January 6-related surveillance efforts.
Acting Assistant Secretary Corey Tellez, in the letter to Senator Scott, delineated that these “Exchange events” were initiated in the aftermath of the Capitol protests, under the previous administration. The disclosure has sparked concerns regarding privacy and the targeting of U.S. citizens based on political affiliations without due process, a point of contention highlighted by Senator Scott in his inquiry to the Treasury.
The FinCEN initiative aimed to enhance collaboration between law enforcement and financial institutions to combat crimes like money laundering and terrorism financing. However, the inclusion of politically oriented search terms in the surveillance strategy has raised questions about the implications for American citizens’ privacy rights and the potential for misuse of such data.
Additionally, the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the use of merchant category codes and other keywords for financial transaction surveillance has uncovered a broader range of terms used to flag transactions for review. These findings underscore the extensive nature of the surveillance undertaken in the wake of the Capitol protests, contributing to the ongoing debate over the balance between national security and individual freedoms.