Just like their Snowden-exposed colleagues at the NSA, the CIA is storing data in bulk that includes personal and financial information about American citizens. According to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the CIA has built a giant database of international money transfers handled by companies like Western Union, including transactions to and from the United States.
Like the NSA's collection of phone data, the CIA's spying on financial transactions is allowed under Section 215 of the Patriot Act. It's not clear how much access the CIA, which is barred from targeting Americans, has to information involving US citizens.
One official told the Times that the data does not include domestic-only transfers or bank-to-bank transactions; another official "suggested" a link to a terrorist organization must be provided to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court before the CIA can access information about Americans, though that official refused to acknowledge the program. Social Security numbers are also tracked, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The transaction information is initially stored by companies like Western Union and Money Gram—neither company denied the reports when contacted by the WSJ—and then turned over to the CIA under court orders.
And, as informative and troublesome as these recent surveillance reports have been, several officials told the Times that there are even more bulk data collection programs that have not yet been exposed.
"The intelligence community collects bulk data in a number of different ways under multiple authorities," one intelligence official said.
[Image via AP]