It’s true that the official intelligence arm of al-Qaeda in America, The New York Times, are sadly lacking when it comes to publishing news of victories in the war, atrocities committed by our enemies and finds of WMDs in Iraq, but when it comes to providing al-Qaeda with useful intelligence, they’re absolutely second to none (link thanks to LC Darth Bacon).
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. counterterrorism officials gained access to an international database and have examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others under a secret program initiated weeks after the September 11 attacks, The New York Times reported on Thursday.
U.S. government officials said the program was limited to tracing transactions of people suspected of ties to al Qaeda by reviewing records from a Belgian cooperative known as SWIFT, or Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the “nerve center of the global banking industry,” the newspaper reported on its Web site.
“Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia,” it said.
Government officials said SWIFT data helped lead to the capture of Riduan Isamuddin Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 Bali bombings, the report said.
The records mostly involved wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas or into and out of the United States. Most routine transactions confined to the United States are not in the database.
The program, run out of the CIA and overseen by the U.S. Treasury Department “has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks and is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities,” Stuart Levey, a Treasury undersecretary, told the newspaper.
Treasury officials said SWIFT was exempt from American laws restricting government access to private financial records because the cooperative was considered a messaging service, not a bank or financial institution.
Note that the program was perfectly LEGAL. Note that it had helped us capture at least ONE terrorist mastermind. Note also that it was a secret, since it’s not awfully helpful if the terrorists plotting to set off dirty nukes in our cities have advance knowledge of the methods by which we track them, hunt them down and capture/kill them.
Much like it wouldn’t have been awfully helpful for the New York Times to publish convoy sailing dates from 1942-45.
The New York Times said administration officials had asked it not to publish the article, saying disclosure of the SWIFT program could jeopardize its effectiveness.
They might as well have asked Zarqawi to please stop killing civilians.
After considering the government’s request, Bill Keller, the newspaper’s executive editor, said, “We remain convinced that the administration’s extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use of it may be, is a matter of public interest.”
Whereas NOT getting killed at work because some Islamic caveman flies an airliner into your office building ISN’T a matter of public interest, according to al-Qaeda spy Bill Keller of the New York Times.
Every once in a while, somebody, somewhere will express outrage and preening indignation about Ann Coulter saying that her only regret about Timothy McVeigh was that he didn’t park outside the offices of the New York Times.
Why is that outrageous again?
The track record of that terrorist-supporting and abetting bird cage liner taken into consideration, I find myself wondering why we haven’t made that building the target of a surgical airstrike yet.