Fang-Face writes "Michael Isikoff, of Newsweek, has an article reprinted at Truthout.org about the feds using the PATRIOT Act to get financial records in a manner that would otherwise be clearly illegal. He wrote in part:
In Las Vegas, the Feds used a little-known provision in the Patriot Act that allows them to quickly obtain financial records of suspected terrorists or money launderers. Law-enforcement agencies can submit the name of any suspect to the Treasury Department, which then orders financial institutions across the country to search their records for any matches. If they get a "hit"â€”evidence that the person has an accountâ€”the financial institution is slapped with a subpoena for the personâ€™s records.
The Feds might have gotten the same records even without the new lawâ€”but only if they had hard evidence that a suspect was doing business at a particular bank. In effect, the Patriot Act allows the Feds to search every financial institution in the country for the records of anybody they have suspicions aboutâ€”the very definition, critics say, of a fishing expedition.