The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal (yes; subscription only) have published information on yet another governmental program designed to keep tabs on terrorists and keep them for carrying out their tactical operations, i.e. killing people. For the New York Times, it is a second offense—by the same two journalists who de-fanged the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program, Eric Lichtblau and James Risen.
Since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Treasury Department has been secretly tracking suspected terrorist financing through a far-reaching program that gives it access to records from the network that handles nearly all international financial transfers.This time, there is no doubt that the program is legal. The publishers of these newspapers felt it was necessary to publicize the program, however, merely to prevent the danger of “mission creep” by government, which is a euphemism for the "stopping the no-doubt sinister aims" of the Bush Administration, of course.
The information comes from a Belgian firm known by its acronym, Swift [Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication], which manages much of the world's financial-message traffic. Under the program, U.S. counter-terrorism analysts query Swift's vast database of billions of financial transactions for information on activity by suspected terrorists. The program operates under a series of broad U.S. subpoenas.
U.S. officials say the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program has been highly successful both in leading to the apprehension of terrorism suspects and in thwarting terrorist operations. People familiar with the program said, for example, that it yielded useful information on the bombings last July 7 in London. The program "has helped to disrupt terrorist cells and operations and has helped save lives," Treasury said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. [SNIP]
Stuart Levey, Treasury's top counter-terrorism official, said the program was initiated after department lawyers determined they had the legal authority to subpoena Swift, which keeps its data in the U.S.
In other words, these Big Media have appointed themselves as ‘the People’—that is, the same people named in the US Constitution; the same ones who elected a Republican president and, in both houses of Congress, Republican majorities. But since ‘the people’ were “too stupid” to make the “correct” choices, Big Media is forced to act in the steed of ‘the People,’ similar to how one would act as guardian of a family member who has been mentally incapacitated.
For that is how much of the Big Media thinks of a country who would put George W. Bush and a majority Republican Congress in office.
Make no mistake about it, the outing of these programs isn’t meant for the consumption and consideration of people like me who’ve been in the military and/or know a few things about intelligence programs. These “Show Reports” (think “Show Trials”) are meant for the mythical citizen who knows nothing about how our intelligence and federal law enforcement agencies attempt to protect this country. They are meant for the mythical citizen who’s been feed a steady diet of lamentation about “privacy rights” and “Bush lied.” And, conversely, they are meant to play to “Peoria”; to the average Red State Middle-American, one who is presumably too “simple” to sit down and think about/research the means and legality of programs designed to prevent another 9/11; or who is lacking common sense to figure it out on his/her own (meaning all who voted for Bush).
As many have noted, publicizing such clandestine programs designed to thwart terrorist actions puts the terrorists on their guard when it comes to their communications and to their monies meant to fund blowing up commuter trains, subways, resorts, and skyscrapers. So what are We, the actual People, to conclude from these Big Media actions? One or any combination of these could be true.
1. The Big Media believe that Republicans are more of a threat to the nation than are Islamist terrorist bent on bringing about an entire world of Dar-al-Islam.
2. The Big Media want the Islamists to succeed in their aims
3. The Big Media don’t think either is that big of a threat. They are simply willing to do anything to make powerless an ideology—republicanism/conservatism--in which they don’t subscribe. Ace of Spades:
It's blackmail, pure and simple. Either let a Democrat into the White House, or we will continue to sabotage American security and, in effect, kill Americans. We will keep secrets when a Democrat is in office, but not a Republican. So we offer the American people a choice: Let the politicians we favor run the country or we will help Al Qaeda murder you.Regardless of Big Media motives, however, the law regarding disclosure of classified materials for both this case and the leak regarding the NSA Terrorist Surveillance Program is pretty straightforward.
(a) Whoever knowingly and willfully communicates, furnishes, transmits, or otherwise makes available to an unauthorized person, or publishes, or uses in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States or for the benefit of any foreign government to the detriment of the United States any classified information -(Emphasis mine.)
(1) concerning the nature, preparation, or use of any code, cipher, or cryptographic system of the United States or any foreign government; or
(2) concerning the design, construction, use, maintenance, or repair of any device, apparatus, or appliance used or prepared or planned for use by the United States or any foreign government for cryptographic or communication intelligence purposes; or
(3) concerning the communication intelligence activities of the United States or any foreign government; or
(4) obtained by the processes of communication intelligence from the communications of any foreign government, knowing the same to have been obtained by such processes –
So now, one question remains: what, at the behest of the president, will Attorney General Alberto Gonzales do about this?
Consider this, however: the cure--subpoenaing specific journalists, ordering them to give up their sources or be imprisoned for contempt of court—may be worse than the disease.
Thanks a lot, Big Media.
One of the People
(Thanks to The Weekly Standard)