Why people are angry with the NY Times
Ever since President Bush vowed days after the Sept. 11 attacks to "follow the money as a trail to the terrorists," the government has made no secret of its efforts to hunt down the bank accounts of Al Qaeda and its allies.More arrogant nonsense in Wechler's quote that the Times uses to excuse their treasonous conduct. Of course the terrorist knew we have been trying to trace their funds. That has never been a secret and even the NY Times has editorialized in favor of such programs before they set out to destroy it by disclosing our sources and methods of doing so. Because of the NY Times the errorist now know how to avoid that detection. The story does give the criticism of the disclosure concerning the problem of foreign intelligence agencies trusting the US with information that the paper is going to publish. The Times had no response to that charge. I guess the paper's staff really does not care about the harm it caused in that regard.
But that fact has not muted the fury of Mr. Bush, his top aides and many members of Congress at the decision last week by The New York Times and other newspapers to disclose a centerpiece of that hunt: the Treasury Department's search for clues in a vast database of financial transactions maintained by a Belgium-based banking consortium known as Swift.
Speaking at a fund-raising event in St. Louis for Senator Jim Talent, Mr. Bush made the news reports his central theme.
"This program has been a vital tool in the war on terror," Mr. Bush said. "Last week the details of this program appeared in the press."
Mr. Bush received a prolonged, standing ovation from the Republican crowd when he added, "There can be no excuse for anyone entrusted with vital intelligence to leak it — and no excuse for any newspaper to print it."
On Thursday, the House is expected to take up a Republican resolution supporting the tracking of financial transactions and condemning the publication of the existence of the program and details of how it works. The resolution says Congress "expects the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans and the capability of the government to identify, disrupt and capture terrorists by not disclosing classified intelligence programs." Democrats are proposing a variant that expresses support for the treasury program but omits the language about the news media.
The director of national intelligence, John D. Negroponte, has ordered an assessment of any damage to counterterrorism efforts from the disclosures, but the review is expected to take months, and its findings are likely to remain classified.
Experts on terror financing are divided in their views of the impact of the revelations. Some say the harm in last week's publications in The Times, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal may have been less in tipping off terrorists than in putting publicity-shy bankers in an uncomfortable spotlight.
"I would be surprised if terrorists didn't know that we were doing everything we can to track their financial transactions, since the administration has been very vocal about that fact," said William F. Wechsler, a former Treasury and National Security Council official who specialized in tracking terrorism financing.
But Mr. Wechsler said the disclosure might nonetheless hamper intelligence collection by making financial institutions resistant to requests for access to records.