“Look at the scripture, ‘Babylon is fallen, is fallen.’  Substitute America for Babylon. She’s unraveling. America is falling, is falling. Why are you falling America?  Because you have become the habitation of devils.  A hole for every foul person, a cage for every hateful bird.”

—The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, The Unraveling of a Great Nation, February 23, 2020

Timeless words from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan are now manifest in the throes of this year’s presidential election cycle. Both sides of the political aisle, Republicans and Democrats, continue to trade barbs with allegations, innuendoes, and even legal proceedings in hopes of influencing outcomes. 

On March 7, the House Judiciary Committee (HJC) and its Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, held a nearly three-hour hearing on “Law Enforcement Use of Financial Surveillance,” highlighting an interim staff report titled, “Financial Surveillance in the United States: How Federal Law Enforcement Commandeered Financial Institutions to Spy on Americans.” 


In what was initially designed as another round of “who’s to blame,” for the January 6, 2021, attack on the United States Capitol, the hearing showed the continued political discord of those charged with legislating the country’s affairs. During testimonies witnesses found themselves being volleyed between both sides of the political aisle.  

Some political observers and analysts argue that conservatives are attempting to “sanitize” the happenings surrounding January 6 which has led to more than 1,000 convictions and 500 sentencings. During the select subcommittee it was noted, “The report reveals alarming evidence of federal law enforcement engaging in broad financial surveillance and prying into the private transactions of American consumers. This surveillance, not predicated on specific evidence of criminal conduct, targeted terms and transactions related to core political and religious expressions protected by the Constitution,” according to HJC in its press statement released just before the hearing.

Federal law enforcement, including the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and the FBI, facilitated multiple backchannel discussions with financial institutions to gather Americans’ private financial information. These discussions involved some of the largest financial institutions in the United States, such as Barclays, U.S. Bank, Charles Schwab, HSBC, Bank of America, PayPal, and many others. Tactics included keyword filtering of transactions, targeting terms like “MAGA” and “TRUMP,” as well as purchases of books, religious texts, firearms-related items, and recreational stores, like Cabela’s, Bass Pro Shop, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. This surveillance extended beyond criminal suspicion, likely encompassing millions of Americans with conservative viewpoints or Second Amendment interests, argued the conservative majority of the House Judiciary Committee.

The report also details the existence of a web portal run by the Domestic Security Alliance Council, a public-private partnership led by the FBI’s Office of Private Sector and the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis. This portal appears to have shared intelligence products with financial institutions that were used to identify individuals who fit the profile of criminal and “domestic violent extremists,” often because of their conservative political views or other constitutionally protected activity. Federal law enforcement used these reports and other materials they shared with financial institutions to commandeer their databases and conduct sweeping searches of individuals not suspected of committing any crimes, without a warrant, to identify individuals making certain “suspicious” transactions.
The pattern of financial surveillance uncovered in the report raises serious concerns about federal law enforcement’s and financial institutions’ commitment to respecting Americans’ privacy rights and fundamental civil liberties.

“Big government was colluding with big tech to censor Americans. That’s the first thing we learned,” began Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, Chair of the Select Committee on Weaponization of the Federal Government in his opening remarks, on Mar. 7. “But now, it’s big government, colluding with big banks and big businesses to spy on everything Americans buy, everyplace they go, everything they do. Big government wants your financial data because it’s full of sensitive information about you,” he continued. “This is scary where things are headed. We have seen the censorship. Now we see what’s happening with big banks, and big government relative to your financial data … . All of this is being done with no process, no warrants, no notifications to the customers that the banks are actually supposed to serve. Big government is not supposed to use big tech to censor Americans. And big government shouldn’t be working with big banks to target Americans for behavior that is legal and constitutional. That’s the concern. This is why we are having this hearing,” Rep. Jordan, a Trump supporter, closed. 

Democrats on the subcommittee pushed back. 

“At the end of the day, the purpose of this hearing is to minimize what happened on January 6, and the lawful prosecution of individuals who were engaged in that practice,” challenged Ranking Member Rep. Stacey Plaskett D-VI, in her opening remarks refuting the reasons for the hearing previously stated. Rep. Plaskett who is Black did not support Rep. Jordan’s conclusions. “The chairman wants us to believe people are being persecuted for their political conduct rather than their criminal behavior. So basically, he is trying to tell us (that) everyone who has been indicted and prosecuted for January 6, did not engage in criminal conduct. That is the logic of what he is saying,” she said. 

“We have come so low in this House it’s frightening to me,” she said in terms of, “what people will do to try to minimize the work of those individuals who came to this Capitol on January 6,” to perform their respective duties and responsibilities, she declared. 
“When it’s people who fit your political agenda, they’re not criminals anymore?” she asked of the panel. “They’re patriots, they’re victims? They’re not” she asserted. “They’re criminals. And a jury of their peers found that when so many of them have been prosecuted in our court of law,” Rep. Plaskett said.

The report details the extent by which government, financial institutions, and retailers gathered intelligence, financial and psychological profiles allegedly profiling every visitor to the DMV (D.C.-Maryland-Virginia) area dating back at least six months before the attack on the Capitol. 

Analysts maintain that it is important to note that the January 6 debacle in which a huge crowd of mostly Whites attacked the Capitol also clearly shows the ongoing divide between Democrats and the GOP. 

However, many caution that Black people must begin to pay attention to the warring factions amongst dissatisfied White Americans who do not consider the plight of anyone other than White people. While members of the GOP are raising concerns about the overreach of the federal government into the private lives of American citizens now that it is impacting White people, for Blacks, there is a history of interference and surveillance by federal agencies.  

Banks looking into people’s finances is nothing new, particularly for Black folks, author, activist, and historian Dr. Akinyele Umoja told The Final Call. Citing examples of surveillance, and efforts to destabilize Black organizations then and now; finances and the exploitation of such is par for the course, he pointed out.

“They will deny you loans or financial support to hurt activists in that way. That’s just a form of counterinsurgency,” he said. Dr. Umoja urges not to assume this is a new policy because White people are publicly acknowledging the counterinsurgency. “What happened on January 6, 2021, does represent a clear message throughout the United States, particularly those of us who thought we were in power, are not in power. We could already see the MAGA (Make America Great Again) folks assaulting education, and our ability to tell the truth of our own history in public schools and universities; challenging DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) representing a clear danger evidenced by what we see happening now in Gaza,” he said.

“Even with the Democrats in power, we see the military support of Israel. So, it’s like Malcolm (X) talked about in terms of the fox and the wolf. They’re both canines. Both are vicious canines and are carnivorous. So, we can’t get tricked into thinking that because one represents a greater threat; a more vicious threat, violent and more aggressive at the moment. They are all gangsters. They are both dangerous to us,” he said. 

Citing the threat and inherent dangers of the unleashing of such civilian surveillance, during his testimony author and psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson told the subcommittee that he was not there to discuss January 6, any particular threat, insurrection, or political/ideological protest rather real, or imaginary. “I am here to talk about the already extant and the expanding collusion of government and corporations. In restricting the individual freedom and autonomy upon which the productive, generous and stable psyche economy and state are themselves necessarily founded … Governments can, and are, colluding with these corporate agents to develop a picture not only of our actions but of our thought and words so that deviation from the desired end can be mapped, rewarded, and punished,” said Dr. Peterson. 

“The development of such a digital identity and currency is nothing more than the likely end consequence of such inclinations—and the combination of both will facilitate the development of a surveillance state, the scope of which optimistic pessimists of totalitarianism such as George Orwell could scarcely imagine,” he said. 

The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan warned of certain tactics implemented by the U.S. government specifically when it comes to Black groups and organizations and those who speak truth to power. He referred to Satan as “a universal snooper.” 

“If you remember the Counterintelligence Program [COINTELPRO] of the United States Government: They feared that a ‘Messiah’ would rise among Black people who would unite the nationalist element among us, and unite us as a people; and destroy their power to continue their wicked rule and oppression of us!” the Minister said in part 26 of his 58-week lecture series, “The Time and What Must Be Done,” in 2013.  

“What does it mean ‘to snoop’? Minister Farrakhan asked. “To prowl or pry; to go about in a sneaking, prying way; to investigate and look around furtively in an attempt to find out something, especially information about someone’s private affairs.” The Muslim leader explained that Satan needs to know what everyone is saying or doing so the information can be used to silence people if they come into the knowledge of truth or to even “blackmail” people to bring them into his (Satan’s) sphere of influence. He explained during his message that the FBI and NSA (National Security Agency) “is searching all of us out.” 

“You should know, Nation of Islam, that we are on ‘The Watch List.’  We should know that there’s nothing that we are saying on social media that has escaped his attention, nor in emails or on phone calls, or on Twitter!  Look at the hatred that America is showing for Muslims: Don’t you think he’s listening to all our conversations?  How do you start your conversation?  With “As-Salaam Alaikum”—and the universal snooper is quick to pick up on those specific words: ‘Ah!  That’s a code term. …  Zero in on that conversation!’ If you mention The Name ‘Allah,’ that’s a code; and when that code comes up, he’s listening! He’s spying on China, Japan; he’s spying on Germany, on Italy, on France, on Russia—he is spying everywhere!” Minister Farrakhan stated.  

As the investigation continues, the committee and select subcommittee will continue to work to understand the extent and status of this widespread financial surveillance while also exploring how Congress could enact legislation to further protect Americans’ civil liberties or if these rights will continue to be eroded amidst the unraveling of a great nation.