Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson has slammed the Bank of America for allegedly transferring the data on over 200 of its clients' transactions to the FBI for the probe looking to identify the 6 January Capitol rioters and those who could potentially take part in unrest ahead of Joe Biden's inauguration on 20 January.
Carlson cited data obtained anonymously as saying that under the request from the FBI the BoA, the nation's second-biggest bank, combed through the accounts and the transactions of its American clients looking for matches to a set of criteria provided by the bureau. The bank reportedly then handed over the results to the FBI without notifying the affected clients.
According to Carlson, the FBI had an interest in people, who made any purchases in Washington DC around the date of the Capitol riot, booked hotel rooms, or an AirBnB apartment in DC, Virginia, or Maryland, after 6 January, bought airline tickets following the Capitol unrest, or made purchases at any store that sells weapons between 7 and 20 January.
Carlson slammed the alleged search parameters as "remarkably broad" suggesting that the search result included a lot of people, who had nothing to do with the siege of the Capitol on 6 January. And, apparently, the 211 clients, the BoA reportedly identified as matching the criteria, might be summoned by the FBI for questioning and will be "treated like member[s] of al-Qaeda*" due to the bank's actions, Carlson noted.
According to the Fox News host, at least one person, who Carlson did not identify, from the lengthy list has already undergone such questioning and was cleared as having done nothing wrong at the end of the procedure. The anchor argued that such an experience could "scare the hell out of you".
"Imagine if you were that person. The FBI hauls you in for questioning in a terror investigation. Not because you have done anything suspicious. You haven't. You bought plane tickets and visited your country's capital. You thought you could do that. Now they are sweating you because your bank […] has ratted you out to the fed without telling you without your knowledge", Carlson said.
The Bank of America did not directly deny or confirm that it handed over confidential client data per the FBI's request, but stated that all banks "have responsibilities under federal law to cooperate with law enforcement". The Fox News anchor noted that the law obligates financial institutions to pass on information about any "possible violation" to the authorities, but stressed that the bank still could resist and challenge the FBI's request if it wished to.
Carlson claims that the BoA chose not to do so and cited several legal experts Fox questioned as suggesting that the bank's actions might be illegal and potentially challenged in court. The Fox host further condemned the extremely vague regulation that allows law enforcement to request US citizens' private data based on their loose affiliation with a crime.
"What constitutes information that may be relevant to a possible crime? Buying a muffin in Washington DC on 5 January? Does it make you a potential domestic extremist? According to the Bank of America – yes, it does", Carlson said.
The Fox host concluded his tirade by condemning the authorities, who repeatedly condemned the "violent domestic extremists" for the 6 January Capitol riot, for having failed to adequately define the term "domestic extremist". Carlson argued that the lack thereof only causes confusion and allows law enforcement to collect citizens' private data en masse under the pretext of fighting elusive "domestic extremists".
*Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia