While scuttling about the internets looking for anything new on the Hastert situation, I ran across this piece
in The American Thinker. The writer made a point which got me to thinking...
The reason the whole affair came to light is the Patriot Act-created ability of the feds to monitor cash transactions, and the criminalization of “structuring” – avoiding mandatory reporting of bank withdrawals of more than $10,000 in cash by withdrawing amounts slightly below that figure multiple times. In other words, taking your own money out of your own bank account is a crime if you act to keep the government’s nose out of your business. The libertarian in me doesn’t like this, though the pragmatist in me realizes this is useful in uncovering terrorist plots and drug dealers. But it seems to me that criminalizing this -- which is what Hastert was indicted on – ought to be contingent on it being related to other underlying crimes. Just keeping the government out of your own business should not be a crime in my book.
Frankly, I agree. And I got to wondering: Instead of making numerous withdrawals below the $10,000 limit (a tactic which aroused the interest of the FBI), what stopped Hastert from simply going to the bank and saying "I'd like to withdraw a million dollars, please"?
What, exactly, happens to someone who does that sort of thing?
As it happens, the writers most likely to address this question are the folks who advise you to withdraw all of your money from the bank NOW NOW NOW because the entire banking system is poised to collapse at any moment. (The first time I heard that prediction was when Nixon was president.) Example
Federal law requires that the bank file a report based upon any withdrawal or deposit of $10,000 or more on any single given day. The law was designed to put a damper on money laundering, sophisticated counterfeiting and other federal crimes.
To remain in compliance with the law, financial institutions must obtain personal identification, information about the transaction and the social security number of the person conducting the transaction.
Technically, there is no federal law prohibiting the use of large amounts of cash. However, a CTR must be filed in ALL cases of cash transaction regardless of the reason underlying the transaction. This means your cash transaction will be on the radar.
Okay. So it's on the radar. So what?
We are told that Hastert would have had to show ID. So what? Back in the days before ATMs, I had to show ID if I wanted to withdraw ten bucks.
What stopped Hastert from going through all of the necessary hoops to obtain what was, after all, his own damned money? If anyone asked why he needed it in cash, he could have simply said: "I would prefer to keep it in my safe at home." Why should he have to give any reason beyond that? It was his own money.
If he wanted, he could have muttered something about not trusting banks. Or, if he was feeling impish, he could have said: "Hey, do you remember Ghost?
Remember the scene where Whoopie Goldberg took out all of that money because the ghost told her to do it? Well, I never believed in the paranormal until a few days ago, when the damnedest thing happened..."
That's the way I
would have done it. Probably not Hastert's style.
Wasn't Hastert the guy who gave us the Patriot Act -- provisions of which allowed the FBI to snoop on him?
If there is a God, he loves irony.