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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 7, 2006 1:48 PM. The previous post in this blog was Radical cash-ectomy. The next post in this blog is Walkin' to New Orleans. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Kafka as nonfiction

Dear Lord, I pray that this is just one of those urban legends.

Comments (17)

>"If it can happen to me, it can happen to others," he said.>"If it can happen to me, it can happen to others," he said.

My read of this tells me nothing happened to him.

He may have emotional whiplash from over reacting and a wild imagination but nothing in the piece proved that he was "spied" upon or harmed in any way what so ever.
He may just be a Brandon Mayfield wanna be.

He was "over reacting" and has a "wild imagination?" Are you serious? All the guy did was pay off his freaking credit card debt. This is what Homeland Security is spending their time and money on? I'm not just disturbed by the Big Brother nature of this story, I'm worried about the basic competence of the Department of Homeland Security!

Sooooo... while the "red flag" went up and the funds were not released because the credit company reported the highly unusual transaction to DHS, was the outstanding balance on the account still accruing interest?

Seems to me that privacy violations would be the least of their concerns in this case. And, frankly, it makes some sense for DHS (or at least the FBI) to be notified of large, unusual financial transactions like this in case it fits into a larger pattern of suspicious activity. The "Big Brother" ship sailed long ago, when they signed the credit agreement in the first place.

BUT if I was still paying interest on that $6,500+ that was being held pending investigation, I'd be pretty ticked off. And even if there was no interest being charged, holding the funds amounts to a loss of money for the consumer (however slight). The vast majority of these unusual transactions are going to be benign, so I'd hope that the credit companies would be required merely to report the transaction and not suspend the transaction.

The only thing I read that was triggered was notifying Homeland security.
It doesn't say anything about how Homeland Security is spending their time and money on.
It doesn't say anything about what Homeland Security did once notified.
It didn't even tell us how much time passed before the account was cleared.
Suppose it was the very next day and no "spying" ever happened?
I am not ruling out anything but this story itself does not demonstrate anything but the ability to get disturbed over one's own imagination and overreaction.
Don't get me wrong. I would be with you if the story had more to it.
But this is classic overblown stuff that everyday cops hear everyday.

This story is pretty much on all the "I Hate Bush and Eveything He May Or May Not Have Done" left leaning websites so far. Dare I say that we should consider the source? I'm not saying it isn't true, but...

This story is fishy to say the least. I just called my brother who happens to be a VP at Wells Fargo in charge of their VISA programs. He laughed his butt off....there is no such requirement that the feds be notified.

A Rhode Island urban legend to be sure.

I wish I could remember where I read it, but there was a column a fes days ago about all the things that are being blamed on the "Patriot Act" that don't have any connection with it at all.

It's just a handy excuse, "The Patriot Act made me do it". Updated Flip Wilson. (Older folks explain it to the youngsters.)

I don't know about the individual in the story but the reporting requirements for banks and financial institutions are true. Just Google the Act in the story.

See 12 CFR 21

Here is another tip, you also must report $10,000 or more in cash if you are traveling into/out of the US.

Before anyone gets in a huff about the war on terror, this was signed into law by the clinton administration in '96 as part of the war on drugs. The info is forwarded to DHS b/c it contains many of the former treasury departments who enforced money laundering statutes.

i read about this on slashdot earlier today. the discussion there about it is pretty interesting. there's a crime called, "structuring" that sends up red flags regarding higher than usual payments. don't know if this particular situation is real, but it could be (apparently).

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/06/2236240

*sorry about the plaintext link, i couldn't get a live one to work in the comment preview.

The $10,000 reporting requirement applies to any cash transaction or money order, not just when you leave the country.

Similarly, if a fellow walks into a tractor dealership and wants to pay for his new equipment with several $9,000 money orders. Doesn't matter if he's from Cali, Colombia, or Clackamas.

Lots of illicit activities are cash only businesses, and the government put these reporting requirements in place when money laundering became a hot button issue (early 1980's I think).

Assuming this story is true - and I don't see any reason to doubt it - I don't see why this would raise any red flags with regards to terrorism.

I mean, do terrorists usually pay off all their debts before they strike? That seems really odd to me...

Making the payoff on your credit card bill by check is not in the same league -- nor is it covered by the same laws -- as paying $10,000 or more for something using all currency.

Maybe the Call Center Manager was joking, or trying to cover up his staff's delayed posting of the check?

Maybe they were waiting for the check to clear (small banks frequently put a hold on out of state checks).

Maybe Mr. Soehnge is making it up?

There are many benign explanations for what allegedly happened. Just because it's printed in a newspaper or on the web doesn't make it true.

IF (big IF) it is true, it does sound like an unreasonable application of the law.

This is somewhat hard to believe simply because in the big scheme of things, $6,500 is not a lot of money.

Having said that, anti-money laundering policies have been ramping up throughout the world since the early 1990s. 9-11 simply added fuel to the fire.

In Spring 2002, I attended an ABA conference in NYC and I participated in a round-table for a gatekeeping initiative concerning movement of capital resources across international borders.

The projected rule? Know Your Client and make Suspicious Activity Reports (based upon the UK model). In other words, attorneys would have to monitor "covered" financial transactions and report their own client to the Feds.

So, is what happened in the article outside the realm of possibility? Hell no.

And leave it to a conservative to worry about the interest owed instead of civil liberties.

We are confusing several issues here:

1. The $10k threshold for reporting cash transactions likely had nothing to do with Mr. Soehnge's visa payment (A) his payment was made with a personal check, and B) it was less than $10k.


2. Even if his MasterCard payment was somehow reportable to HSA, that should not delay the posting of his check. This stands in stark contrast to what Bob Kerr asserted,"the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted.")


3. Bob Kerr is a columnist, not a reporter. The difference: a columnist can inject far more opinion and is less accountable to the facts. That's why Kerr's column appears on the Opinion page, not in the News.

W. Bruce Anderholt II said:

Even if his MasterCard payment was somehow reportable to HSA, that should not delay the posting of his check. This stands in stark contrast to what Bob Kerr asserted,"the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted."

Actually, under Bush's Executive Order 13224 of September 23, 2001 (66 Fed. Reg. 49079) the assets of anyone believed to be committing, threatening to commit, or supporting terrorism in any way may be frozen - likewise the executive order explicitly authorizes the blocking of property interests or transactions.

Read the text of the order and you'll see how broadly "supporting terrorism" is defined.

So it seems quite clear to me that the administration absolutely does have the authority to ensure that, as Bob Kerr said, "the money doesn't move until the threat alert is lifted."

Now, maybe the story isn't true, is spun to make the White House look bad, or perhaps you don't have a problem with the Bush Administration wielding such power - but I think it is fairly beyond dispute that they believe they have the power to engage in the very type of conduct complained of in this news story, and have asserted as much in binding executive orders.

Nader: how would they support the thesis that paying off his credit card supports terrorism?

Assuming HSA is involved in any way, I would assume they suspected he made a donation to an alleged terrorist organization on the MasterCard, or purchased bomb-making materials?

Otherwise, there is no possible connection between a retirees MasterCard and terrorism.

I believe the whole story will turn out to be bogus. I sent Bob Kerr (the columnist) an email: I'll post mine and his if he replies.


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