The Washington Post reports:
At a House subcommittee hearing five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, plans were openly discussed to give the government a highly secure, real-time electronic capability to request and receive data from financial institutions about suspected terrorists or terrorist organizations. The approach was closely similar to the effort described in news reports last month, which the Bush administration has said endangered national security.
In February 2002, Jeffrey P. Neubert, president and chief executive of the New York Clearing House Association LLC, described ... (how) government agencies would electronically send the names of suspected terrorists or terrorist organization to financial institutions "seeking account and/or transaction 'hits' which would be returned to the respective [government] organizations."
... The testimony was one of several examples where government and industry officials have publicly described how counterterrorism agencies access financial records to track terrorists and shut down their funding, leading some lawmakers and counterterrorism specialists to doubt assertions that the most recent revelations have significantly helped al-Qaeda or other terrorists by disclosing valuable new information.