Consider these serious questions, the answers to which could determine what happens to your cash, your investments and, ultimately -- to you and your family:
If you are a U.S. citizen or resident of the United States, and you have an account at a bank, do you know the name of your banker?
Do you know the name of even one official that works at the bank where your accounts are kept?
If all the cash in your bank account suddenly was frozen, who would you call? What would you do? How would you get it unfrozen?
Chances are, if you're like most Americans (and like me), you don't have answers to these questions. Even if you have a private banker whom you know well, what I am about to say still applies to you -- even more so, since greater wealth is involved.
But your banker -- whether you know him or not -- knows everything about you -- and he and his staff are watching your every move -- because the U.S. government forces bankers to act as spies, reporting on you, on all of us, to the federal money police at the U.S. Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCen).
HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
A national crisis, such as the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, immediately encourages a 'do something' reaction in politicians of every stripe. The greater the crisis, the swifter -- and more unthinking -- the solution politicians concoct.
At such times, a herd mentality takes hold that overcomes logic and reason. Having served eight years in the U.S. House of Representatives, I can attest first hand to this dangerous political phenomenon. Just six weeks after the September 11th attacks, on October 26, 2001, a panicked U.S. Congress adopted the so-called 'USA PATRIOT Act.'
The PATRIOT Act became law with great haste and secrecy. In the name of the 'war on terrorism,' Congress passed this questionable legislation giving the U.S. executive branch and its police agencies sweeping new powers that undermine the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Act (all 362 pages of it) was passed with little debate by senators and congressmen, most of whom did not, and could not even read the bill, because when the final vote was taken, no printed copies were available.
But once it became law, opposition to the Act was portrayed by its backers, inlcuding President Bush, as near treason. Thus it was that in 2006 the Act was renewed by Congress with little more than cosmetic changes.
In my opinion, the Act constitutes the greatest single governmental assault on personal and financial privacy in U.S. history. Already three U.S. district courts have ruled parts of the Act to be unconstitutional.
The Act is being used for purposes that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism undefined but everything to do with unchecked police surveillance, wiretapping and secret searches of homes and offices. Fully 125 pages of this Act concern individual financial activities as well as U.S. and offshore banking and finance.
WHAT IS THE THREAT?
The PATRIOT Act permits:
secret FBI and police searches of your home and office
secret government wiretaps on your phone, computer and/or Internet activity
secret investigations of your bank records, credit cards and other financial records
secret investigations of your library and book activities
secret examination of your medical, travel and business records.
the freezing of funds and assets without prior notice or appeal
the creation of secret 'watch lists' that ban those named from air and other travel
You may think you are immune from these radical police powers - but as many innocent Americans have discovered, anyone can be caught in the government's unthinking surveillance web -- with little or no judicial review or appeal.
In 2004, in the same week that the New York City Council voted to condemn the PATRIOT Act, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll found that while most Americans back the anti-terrorism ideas behind the Act, they are not only confused, but woefully ignorant of the provisions of the law and how it is being administered.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
That is exactly why I have written a new special report entitled: THE U.S.A. PATRIOT ACT: WHAT IT CAN DO TO YOU -- AND WHAT YOU CAN DO TO ESCAPE IT
As a reader of this Special Report, you will be far more knowledgeable about the Act and its provisions than most Americans. This report will explain -- in layman's terms -- how best to protect your privacy against the Act's unwarranted intrusions. There are many provisions of this Act about which all citizens should have grave concern. But, in this report, I concentrate on those that impact personal and business, domestic and offshore finances. And I have updated the Report to explain the 2006 changes.
In this Special Report, I explain how you can avoid the worst impacts of the Act; how you can order your financial affairs legally to protect your cash and assets from confiscation; how you maximize your freedoms in the face of growing government restrictions.