BUSH ADMINISTRATION vs NEW YORK TIMES, THE CONSTITUTION and FREEDOM OF THE PRESS

In the United States, the oath of office for the President of the United States is specified in the U.S. Constitution (Article II, Section 1):

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_office#United_States

http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/index.php/First_amendment

The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States of America. Most Americans take the term to mean the actual written text which was completed on September 17, 1787, with its adoption by the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was later ratified by special conventions in each state.[1] When nine states of the then thirteen states ratified the document it marked the creation of a union of sovereign states, and a federal government to operate that union. It replaced the weaker, less well-defined union that existed under the Articles of Confederation and took effect on March 4, 1789. The Constitution of the United States is the oldest federal constitution currently in use.[2]   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Constitution

 

U.S. Constitution: First Amendment

First Amendment - Religion and Expression

Amendment Text | Annotations  

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION--SPEECH AND PRESS  

Adoption and the Common Law Background

Madison's version of the speech and press clauses, introduced in the House of Representatives on June 8, 1789, provided: ''The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.''1 The special committee rewrote the language to some extent, adding other provisions from Madison's draft, to make it read: ''The freedom of speech and of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to apply to the Government for redress of grievances, shall not be infringed.''2 In this form it went to the Senate, which rewrote it to read: ''That Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and consult for their common good, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.''3 Subsequently, the religion clauses and these clauses were combined by the Senate.4 The final language was agreed upon in conference. More http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/06.html#1


6/29/06 LOU DOBBS TONIGHT.... N Y TIMES Vs. Bush Admin....
e.VOTE report... easy to hack! (Much More)
http://www.apfn.net/pogo/L001I060629-lou-dobbs.MP3

Lou Dobbs Poll 6/29/06:

Do you believe that The New York Times, L.A. Times and The Wall Street Journal SWIFT reports put at risk our national security?
Yes 19% 1577 votes
No 81% 6713 votes


 

Bill Keller of the New York Times:
"Publishing information is our job." (Nyt Via Ap)

Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/washington/23intel.html?ex=1151985600&en=202a624380655361&ei=5070
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
Published: June 23, 2006
WASHINGTON, June 22 — Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

      Stuart Levey
Stuart Levey, an undersecretary at the Treasury Department, in a file photo. He said the program "has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks."

From the Editor
Bill Keller's Letter to Readers
The executive editor of The Times responds to readers concerning the publication of information about the government's examination of international banking records.

Related:
Swift: Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication

Graphic: A Money Transfer

          Uzair Paracha
Data provided by the program helped identify Uzair Paracha, a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges in 2005, officials said.
The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.

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, the officials said.

The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the 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, an under secretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview on Thursday.

The program is grounded in part on the president's emergency economic powers, Mr. Levey said, and multiple safeguards have been imposed to protect against any unwarranted searches of Americans' records.

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of confidential data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

"The capability here is awesome or, depending on where you're sitting, troubling," said one former senior counterterrorism official who considers the program valuable. While tight controls are in place, the official added, "the potential for abuse is enormous."

The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies.

But all the programs grew out of the Bush administration's desire to exploit technological tools to prevent another terrorist strike, and all reflect attempts to break down longstanding legal or institutional barriers to the government's access to private information about Americans and others inside the United States.

Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing. Much more limited agreements with other companies have provided access to A.T.M. transactions, credit card purchases and Western Union wire payments, the officials said.

Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified. Some of those officials expressed reservations about the program, saying that what they viewed as an urgent, temporary measure had become permanent nearly five years later without specific Congressional approval or formal authorization.

Data from the Brussels-based banking consortium, formally known as the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, has allowed officials from the C.I.A., the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies to examine "tens of thousands" of financial transactions, Mr. Levey said.

While many of those transactions have occurred entirely on foreign soil, officials have also been keenly interested in international transfers of money by individuals, businesses, charities and other groups under suspicion inside the United States, officials said. A small fraction of Swift's records involve transactions entirely within this country, but Treasury officials said they were uncertain whether any had been examined.

Swift executives have been uneasy at times about their secret role, the government and industry officials said. By 2003, the executives told American officials they were considering pulling out of the arrangement, which began as an emergency response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said. Worried about potential legal liability, the Swift executives agreed to continue providing the data only after top officials, including Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, intervened. At that time, new controls were introduced.

Among the safeguards, government officials said, is an outside auditing firm that verifies that the data searches are based on intelligence leads about suspected terrorists. "We are not on a fishing expedition," Mr. Levey said. "We're not just turning on a vacuum cleaner and sucking in all the information that we can."

Among the program's successes was the capture of an Al Qaeda operative known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said.

Swift and Treasury officials said they were aware of no abuses. But Mr. Levey, the Treasury official, said one person had been removed from the operation for conducting a search considered inappropriate.

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.

But at the outset of the operation, Treasury and Justice Department lawyers debated whether the program had to comply with such laws before concluding that it did not, people with knowledge of the debate said. Several outside banking experts, however, say that financial privacy laws are murky and sometimes contradictory and that the program raises difficult legal and public policy questions.

The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.

Bill Keller, the newspaper's executive editor, said: "We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration. 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."

Mr. Levey agreed to discuss the classified operation after the Times editors told him of the newspaper's decision.

On Thursday evening, Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, said: "Since immediately following 9/11, the American government has taken every legal measure to prevent another attack on our country. One of the most important tools in the fight against terror is our ability to choke off funds for the terrorists."

She added: "We know the terrorists pay attention to our strategy to fight them, and now have another piece of the puzzle of how we are fighting them. We also know they adapt their methods, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

Referring to the disclosure by The New York Times last December of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, she said, "The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens."

Swift declined to discuss details of the program but defended its role in written responses to questions. "Swift has fully complied with all applicable laws," the consortium said. The organization said it insisted that the data be used only for terrorism investigations and had narrowed the scope of the information provided to American officials over time.

A Crucial Gatekeeper

Swift's database provides a rich hunting ground for government investigators. Swift is a crucial gatekeeper, providing electronic instructions on how to transfer money among 7,800 financial institutions worldwide. The cooperative is owned by more than 2,200 organizations, and virtually every major commercial bank, as well as brokerage houses, fund managers and stock exchanges, uses its services. Swift routes more than 11 million transactions each day, most of them across borders.

The cooperative's message traffic allows investigators, for example, to track money from the Saudi bank account of a suspected terrorist to a mosque in New York. Starting with tips from intelligence reports about specific targets, agents search the database in what one official described as a "24-7" operation. Customers' names, bank account numbers and other identifying information can be retrieved, the officials said.

The data does not allow the government to track routine financial activity, like A.T.M. withdrawals, confined to this country, or to see bank balances, Treasury officials said. And the information is not provided in real time — Swift generally turns it over several weeks later. Because of privacy concerns and the potential for abuse, the government sought the data only for terrorism investigations and prohibited its use for tax fraud, drug trafficking or other inquiries, the officials said.
 
The Treasury Department was charged by President Bush, in a September 2001 executive order, with taking the lead role in efforts to disrupt terrorist financing. Mr. Bush has been briefed on the program and Vice President Dick Cheney has attended C.I.A. demonstrations, the officials said. The National Security Agency has provided some technical assistance.

While the banking program is a closely held secret, administration officials have held classified briefings for some members of Congress and the Sept. 11 commission, the officials said. More lawmakers were briefed in recent weeks, after the administration learned The Times was making inquiries for this article.

Swift's 25-member board of directors, made up of representatives from financial institutions around the world, was previously told of the program. The Group of 10's central banks, in major industrialized countries, which oversee Swift, were also informed. It is not clear if other network participants know that American intelligence officials can examine their message traffic.

Because Swift is based overseas and has offices in the United States, it is governed by European and American laws. Several international regulations and policies impose privacy restrictions on companies that are generally regarded as more stringent than those in this country. United States law establishes some protections for the privacy of Americans' financial data, but they are not ironclad. A 1978 measure, the Right to Financial Privacy Act, has a limited scope and a number of exceptions, and its role in national security cases remains largely untested.

Several people familiar with the Swift program said they believed that they were exploiting a "gray area" in the law and that a case could be made for restricting the government's access to the records on Fourth Amendment and statutory grounds. They also worried about the impact on Swift if the program were disclosed.

"There was always concern about this program," a former official said.

One person involved in the Swift program estimated that analysts had reviewed international transfers involving "many thousands" of people or groups in the United States. Two other officials placed the figure in the thousands. Mr. Levey said he could not estimate the number.

The Swift data has provided clues to money trails and ties between possible terrorists and groups financing them, the officials said. In some instances, they said, the program has pointed them to new suspects, while in others it has buttressed cases already under investigation.

Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.

The data also helped identify a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges last year, the officials said. The man, Uzair Paracha, who worked at a New York import business, aided a Qaeda operative in Pakistan by agreeing to launder $200,000 through a Karachi bank, prosecutors said.

In terrorism prosecutions, intelligence officials have been careful to "sanitize," or hide the origins of evidence collected through the program to keep it secret, officials said.

The Bush administration has pursued steps that may provide some enhanced legal standing for the Swift program. In late 2004, Congress authorized the Treasury Department to develop regulations requiring American banks to turn over records of international wire transfers. Officials say a preliminary version of those rules may be ready soon. One official described the regulations as an attempt to "formalize" access to the kind of information secretly provided by Swift, though other officials said the initiative was unrelated to the program.

Like other counterterrorism measures carried out by the Bush administration, the Swift program began in the hectic days after the Sept. 11 attacks, as officials scrambled to identify new tools to head off further strikes.
 
One priority was to cut off the flow of money to Al Qaeda. The 9/11 hijackers had helped finance their plot by moving money through banks. Nine of the hijackers, for instance, funneled money from Europe and the Middle East to SunTrust bank accounts in Florida. Some of the $130,000 they received was wired by people overseas with known links to Al Qaeda.

Financial company executives, many of whom had lost friends at the World Trade Center, were eager to help federal officials trace terrorist money. "They saw 9/11 not just as an attack on the United States, but on the financial industry as a whole," said one former government official.

Quietly, counterterrorism officials sought to expand the information they were getting from financial institutions. Treasury officials, for instance, spoke with credit card companies about devising an alert if someone tried to buy fertilizer and timing devices that could be used for a bomb, but they were told the idea was not logistically possible, a lawyer in the discussions said.

The F.B.I. began acquiring financial records from Western Union and its parent company, the First Data Corporation. The programs were alluded to in Congressional testimony by the F.B.I. in 2003 and described in more detail in a book released this week, "The One Percent Doctrine," by Ron Suskind. Using what officials described as individual, narrowly framed subpoenas and warrants, the F.B.I. has obtained records from First Data, which processes credit and debit card transactions, to track financial activity and try to locate suspects.

Similar subpoenas for the Western Union data allowed the F.B.I. to trace wire transfers, mainly outside the United States, and to help Israel disrupt about a half-dozen possible terrorist plots there by unraveling the financing, an official said.

The idea for the Swift program, several officials recalled, grew out of a suggestion by a Wall Street executive, who told a senior Bush administration official about Swift's database. Few government officials knew much about the consortium, which is led by a Brooklyn native, Leonard H. Schrank, but they quickly discovered it offered unparalleled access to international transactions. Swift, a former government official said, was "the mother lode, the Rosetta stone" for financial data.

Intelligence officials were so eager to use the Swift data that they discussed having the C.I.A. covertly gain access to the system, several officials involved in the talks said. But Treasury officials resisted, the officials said, and favored going to Swift directly.

At the same time, lawyers in the Treasury Department and the Justice Department were considering possible legal obstacles to the arrangement, the officials said.

In 1976, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans had no constitutional right to privacy for their records held by banks or other financial institutions. In response, Congress passed the Right to Financial Privacy Act two years later, restricting government access to Americans' banking records. In considering the Swift program, some government lawyers were particularly concerned about whether the law prohibited officials from gaining access to records without a warrant or subpoena based on some level of suspicion about each target.

For many years, law enforcement officials have relied on grand-jury subpoenas or court-approved warrants for such financial data. Since 9/11, the F.B.I. has turned more frequently to an administrative subpoena, known as a national security letter, to demand such records.

After an initial debate, Treasury Department lawyers, consulting with the Justice Department, concluded that the privacy laws applied to banks, not to a banking cooperative like Swift. They also said the law protected individual customers and small companies, not the major institutions that route money through Swift on behalf of their customers.

Other state, federal and international regulations place different and sometimes conflicting restrictions on the government's access to financial records. Some put greater burdens on the company disclosing the information than on the government officials demanding it.

Among their considerations, American officials saw Swift as a willing partner in the operation. But Swift said its participation was never voluntary. "Swift has made clear that it could provide data only in response to a valid subpoena," according to its written statement.

Indeed, the cooperative's executives voiced early concerns about legal and corporate liability, officials said, and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control began issuing broad subpoenas for the cooperative's records related to terrorism. One official said the subpoenas were intended to give Swift some legal protection.

Underlying the government's legal analysis was the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which Mr. Bush invoked after the 9/11 attacks. The law gives the president what legal experts say is broad authority to "investigate, regulate or prohibit" foreign transactions in responding to "an unusual and extraordinary threat."

But L. Richard Fischer, a Washington lawyer who wrote a book on banking privacy and is regarded as a leading expert in the field, said he was troubled that the Treasury Department would use broad subpoenas to demand large volumes of financial records for analysis. Such a program, he said, appears to do an end run around bank-privacy laws that generally require the government to show that the records of a particular person or group are relevant to an investigation.

"There has to be some due process," Mr. Fischer said. "At an absolute minimum, it strikes me as inappropriate."

Several former officials said they had lingering concerns about the legal underpinnings of the Swift operation. The program "arguably complies with the letter of the law, if not the spirit," one official said.

Another official said: "This was creative stuff. Nothing was clear cut, because we had never gone after information this way before."

Treasury officials said they considered the government's authority to subpoena the Swift records to be clear. "People do not have a privacy interest in their international wire transactions," Mr. Levey, the Treasury under secretary, said.

Tighter Controls Sought

Within weeks of 9/11, Swift began turning over records that allowed American analysts to look for evidence of terrorist financing. Initially, there appear to have been few formal limits on the searches.

"At first, they got everything — the entire Swift database," one person close to the operation said.

Intelligence officials paid particular attention to transfers to or from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because most of the 9/11 hijackers were from those countries.

The volume of data, particularly at the outset, was often overwhelming, officials said. "We were turning on every spigot we could find and seeing what water would come out," one former administration official said. "Sometimes there were hits, but a lot of times there weren't."

Officials realized the potential for abuse, and narrowed the program's targets and put in more safeguards. Among them were the auditing firm, an electronic record of every search and a requirement that analysts involved in the operation document the intelligence that justified each data search. Mr. Levey said the program was used only to examine records of individuals or entities, not for broader data searches.

Despite the controls, Swift executives became increasingly worried about their secret involvement with the American government, the officials said. By 2003, the cooperative's officials were discussing pulling out because of their concerns about legal and financial risks if the program were revealed, one government official said.

"How long can this go on?" a Swift executive asked, according to the official.

Even some American officials began to question the open-ended arrangement. "I thought there was a limited shelf life and that this was going to go away," the former senior official said.

In 2003, administration officials asked Swift executives and some board members to come to Washington. They met with Mr. Greenspan, Robert S. Mueller III, the F.B.I. director, and Treasury officials, among others, in what one official described as "a full-court press." Aides to Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Mueller declined to comment on the meetings.

The executives agreed to continue supplying records after the Americans pledged to impose tighter controls. Swift representatives would be stationed alongside intelligence officials and could block any searches considered inappropriate, several officials said.

The procedural change provoked some opposition at the C.I.A. because "the agency was chomping at the bit to have unfettered access to the information," a senior counterterrorism official said. But the Treasury Department saw it as a necessary compromise, the official said, to "save the program."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/washington/23intel.html?ex=1151985600&en=202a624380655361&ei=5070

The above information was on the United Nations website http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/725/72/PDF/N0272572.pdf
and has been recently removed.


About SWIFT

SWIFT is the financial industry-owned co-operative supplying secure, standardised messaging services and interface software to 7,800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. SWIFT's worldwide community includes banks, broker/dealers and investment managers, as well as their market infrastructures in payments, securities, treasury and trade.
Copyright © S.W.I.F.T. SCRL ("SWIFT"), Avenue Adèle 1, B-1310 La Hulpe, Belgium
http://www.swift.com/index.cfm?item_id=43232

But apparently that program has already been reported on and it's existence isn't exactly news:
The information below was on the United Nations website http://daccessdds.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/725/72/PDF/N0272572.pdf
and has been recently removed.

SWIFT statement on compliance policy
Published on 23 June 2006

Following recent press coverage, Chairman, Deputy Chairman and CEO provide statement to SWIFT community

To the SWIFT community:

There is an article in the June 23 edition of New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and other US newspapers on terrorism investigations and the role of SWIFT. Let us begin by underscoring SWIFT’s commitment to the highest standards of integrity, confidentiality and availability of the messaging data we transmit on behalf of our members and users.

As you may know from the User Handbook and swift.com, SWIFT has a longstanding history, beginning in the 1990s, of cooperating with authorities such as central banks, treasury departments, law enforcement agencies and international organisations such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in their efforts to prevent misuse of the financial system. Our members support this policy.

The following, also available in Dutch, French and German, is SWIFT’s official statement on the article:

Statement on Compliance by SWIFT
SWIFT is the industry owned cooperative supplying secure, standardised messaging services and interface software to over 7,800 financial institutions worldwide. SWIFT is solely a messaging intermediary for transmitting secure and confidential financial messages between financial institutions. SWIFT is not a bank, nor does it hold accounts of any customers.

SWIFT takes its role as a key infrastructure of the international financial system very seriously and cooperates with authorities to prevent illegal uses of the international financial system. Where required, SWIFT has to comply with valid subpoenas. SWIFT’s compliance policy is published on www.swift.com.

In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, SWIFT responded to compulsory subpoenas for limited sets of data from the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the United States Department of the Treasury. Our fundamental principle has been to preserve the confidentiality of our users’ data while complying with the lawful obligations in countries where we operate. Striking that balance has guided SWIFT through this process with the United States Department of the Treasury.

SWIFT negotiated with the U.S. Treasury over the scope and oversight of the subpoenas. Through this process, SWIFT received significant protections and assurances as to the purpose, confidentiality, oversight and control of the limited sets of data produced under the subpoenas. Independent audit controls provide additional assurance that these protections are fully complied with.

All of these actions have been undertaken with advice from international and U.S. legal counsel and following our longstanding procedures on compliance, established by our Board.

SWIFT is overseen by a senior committee drawn from the G-10 central banks and has informed them of this matter.

SWIFT values the trust that our members have placed in us for more than 30 years and we will continue to work vigorously to protect and maintain that confidence.

What we have written should give our community a better sense of how seriously SWIFT takes its responsibilities and how we have tried to deal with these matters in the most professional manner. The SWIFT Board and Executive have done their utmost to get the right balance in fulfilling their obligations to the authorities in a manner protective of the interests of the company and its members.

Leonard H. Schrank, CEO, SWIFT
Yawar Shah, Chairman of the Board, SWIFT
Stephan Zimmermann, Deputy Chairman, SWIFT
Media representatives can contact SWIFT’s press office at:

* Europe: +32-2-655-3740 and +32-2-655-3243
* US: c/o The Glover Park Group +1-202-337-0808 and +1-202-295-0171

More information
http://www.swift.com/index.cfm?item_id=59897
=============================================
Impeachment Radio
Submitted by davidswanson on Thu, 2006-06-29 15:30. Impeachment

Catch David Swanson of AfterDowningStreet.org from 5:40 to 6:00 p.m. ET on Friday
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/


 

 

NY TIMES

Re: SWIFT - Behind Bush's Fury, a Vow Made in 2001
Thu Jun 29, 2006 15:48
 
June 29, 2006
Behind Bush's Fury, a Vow Made in 2001
By SCOTT SHANE


WASHINGTON, June 28 — 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.

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.

"I wouldn't be surprised if these recent articles have made it more difficult to get cooperation from our friends in Europe, since it may make their cooperation with the U.S. less politically palatable," Mr. Wechsler said.

Though privacy advocates have denounced the examination of banking transactions, the Swift consortium has defended its cooperation with the counterterrorism program and has not indicated any intention to stop cooperating with the broad administrative subpoenas issued to obtain its data.

A former federal prosecutor who handled major terrorism cases, Andrew C. McCarthy, said he believed that the greatest harm from news reports about such classified programs was the message that Americans could not keep secrets.

"If foreign intelligence services think anything they tell us will end up in the newspapers, they'll stop sharing so much information," said Mr. McCarthy, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.

Mr. McCarthy said he thought the Swift disclosure might encourage terrorist plotters to stop moving money through the banking system, depriving the United States and its allies of a valuable window on their activities. "Methods they assumed were safe they now know are not so safe," he said.

But Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 commission and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, took a different view, saying that if the news reports drive terrorists out of the banking system, that could actually help the counterterrorism cause.

"If we tell people who are potential criminals that we have a lot of police on the beat, that's a substantial deterrent," said Mr. Kerrey, now president of New School University. If terrorists decide it is too risky to move money through official channels, "that's very good, because it's much, much harder to move money in other ways," Mr. Kerrey said.

A State Department official, Anthony Wayne, made a parallel point in 2004 before Congress. "As we've made it more difficult for them to use the banking system," Mr. Wayne said, "they've been shifting to other less reliable and more cumbersome methods, such as cash couriers."

As such testimony suggests, government agencies have often trumpeted their successes in tracking terrorist funding. President Bush set the tone on Sept. 24, 2001, declaring, "We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice — we will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorists' ability to access funds in foreign accounts."

Since then, the Treasury Department has produced dozens of news releases and public reports detailing its efforts. Though officials appear never to have mentioned the Swift program, they have repeatedly described their cooperation with financial networks to identify accounts held by people and organizations linked to terrorism.

Working with "our allies abroad and our partners in the private sector," an April news release said, "Treasury follows the terrorists' money trails aggressively, exploiting them for intelligence."

Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, convened a hearing in 2004 where Treasury officials described at length their efforts, assisted by financial institutions, to trace terrorists' money. But he has been among the most vehement critics of the disclosures about the Swift program, saying editors and reporters of The New York Times should be imprisoned for publishing government secrets.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. King said he saw no contradiction. "Obviously we wanted the terrorists to know we were trying to track them," Mr. King said. "But we didn't want them to know the details."

============================

GOP Leaders: Condemn Times On SWIFT
Post Chronicle - 16 hours ago
by UPI Wire. WASHINGTON, June 28, 2006 (UPI) -- House Republican leaders are reportedly working on a resolution condemning The New ...
'Wash Post,' Peggy Noonan Weigh in On Bank Records Scoop Editor & Publisher
all 3 related »

-------------

NEXT:
National DNA Data Bank
Explains history, privacy, security, statistics and case examples, with FAQ to justify the instigation...


SMILE: LOUIS BLACK.....
http://www.apfn.net/pogo/L001I060610-lewis-black-HBO.MP3

Bush and Co. Attack NYT for "Leaking" Well-Known Program

Posted by Tracy Russo on June 27, 2006 at 03:48 PM

http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/06/bush_and_co_att.php

Yesterday the President, Vice President and various GOP Administration officials slammed The New York Times for reporting on the US monitoring of SWIFT transactions.

They attacked the paper for "leaking" the details of the program. But apparently that program has already been reported on and it's existence isn't exactly news:

Reports on US monitoring of SWIFT transactions have been out there for some time. The information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002. The UN Al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Group , on which I served as the terrorism financing expert, learned of the practice during the course of our monitoring inquiries. The information was incorporated in our report to the UN Security Council in December 2002. That report is still available on the UN Website. Paragraph 31 of the report states:

 

“The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.”

 

So just a memo to the President and his pals: It's not a leak if people already know about it. And that goes double if it's the UN that has already told people. http://www.democrats.org/a/2006/06/bush_and_co_att.php


Reports of US Monitoring of SWIFT Transactions Are Not New: The Practice Has Been Known By Terrorism Financing Experts For Some Time

By Victor Comras

Yesterday’s New York Times Story on US monitoring of SWIFT (Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication) transactions certainly hit the street with a splash. It awoke the general public to the practice. In that sense, it was truly new news. But reports on US monitoring of SWIFT transactions have been out there for some time. The information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002. The UN Al Qaeda and Taliban Monitoring Group , on which I served as the terrorism financing expert, learned of the practice during the course of our monitoring inquiries. The information was incorporated in our report to the UN Security Council in December 2002. That report is still available (UN Doc down) on the UN Website. Paragraph 31 of the report states:

“The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.”

Suggestions that SWIFT and other similar transactions should be monitored by investigative agencies dealing with terrorism, money laundering and other criminal activity have been out there for some time. An MIT paper discussed the pros and cons of such practices back in 1995. Canada’s Financial Intelligence Unit, FINTRAC,, for one, has acknowledged receiving information on Canadian origin SWIFT transactions since 2002. Of course, this info is provided by the banks themselves.

While monitoring SWIFT-handled transfers is a useful tool in identifying and tracking certain suspicious transactions, its importance should not be overstated. The information in SWIFT’s hands is no better than the information which it is provided by the banks handling the transactions at both ends. And there is already an obligation on banks in the US and Europe to report all “suspicious transactions” The problem is that FINCEN and the corresponding FIUS in other countries have simply been overwhelmed by the enormous amount of transactions that are reported to them (see my earlier blog) Another problem is that European Banks are just getting around to providing (and requiring) information, such as names, account numbers and addresses of originators and recipients of transactions channeled or handled by them through SWIFT or other international transfer facilitators (see my earlier blog). And most banks outside of Europe, the United States and other OECD countries, still do not require, or verify, such information.

The fact is that there is really very little privacy today when it comes to the international transfer of funds. That is why criminal networks, money launderers and terrorist groups have increasingly turned to Hawalas and cash couriers for such transactions. http://counterterrorismblog.org/2006/06/reports_of_us_monitoring_of_sw.php
 



Editorial
Patriotism and the Press
Sign In to E-Mail This Print Save Published: June 28, 2006
Over the last year, The New York Times has twice published reports about secret antiterrorism programs being run by the Bush administration. Both times, critics have claimed that the paper was being unpatriotic or even aiding the terrorists. Some have even suggested that it should be indicted under the Espionage Act. There have been a handful of times in American history when the government has indeed tried to prosecute journalists for publishing things it preferred to keep quiet. None of them turned out well — from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the time when the government tried to enjoin The Times and The Washington Post from publishing the Pentagon Papers.

As most of our readers know, there is a large wall between the news and opinion operations of this paper, and we were not part of the news side's debates about whether to publish the latest story under contention — a report about how the government tracks international financial transfers through a banking consortium known as Swift in an effort to pinpoint terrorists. Bill Keller, the executive editor, spoke for the newsroom very clearly. Our own judgments about the uproar that has ensued would be no different if the other papers that published the story, including The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal, had acted alone.

The Swift story bears no resemblance to security breaches, like disclosure of troop locations, that would clearly compromise the immediate safety of specific individuals. Terrorist groups would have had to be fairly credulous not to suspect that they would be subject to scrutiny if they moved money around through international wire transfers. In fact, a United Nations group set up to monitor Al Qaeda and the Taliban after Sept. 11 recommended in 2002 that other countries should follow the United States' lead in monitoring suspicious transactions handled by Swift. The report is public and available on the United Nations Web site.

But any argument by the government that a story is too dangerous to publish has to be taken seriously. There have been times in this paper's history when editors have decided not to print something they knew. In some cases, like the Kennedy administration's plans for the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, it seems in hindsight that the editors were over-cautious. (Certainly President Kennedy thought so.) Most recently, The Times held its reporting about the government's secret antiterror wiretapping program for more than a year while it weighed administration objections.

Our news colleagues work under the assumption that they should let the people know anything important that the reporters learn, unless there is some grave and overriding reason for withholding the information. They try hard not to base those decisions on political calculations, like whether a story would help or hurt the administration. It is certainly unlikely that anyone who wanted to hurt the Bush administration politically would try to do so by writing about the government's extensive efforts to make it difficult for terrorists to wire large sums of money.

From our side of the news-opinion wall, the Swift story looks like part of an alarming pattern. Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government. It has created powerful new tools of surveillance and refused, almost as a matter of principle, to use normal procedures that would acknowledge that either Congress or the courts have an oversight role.

The Swift program, like the wiretapping program, has been under way for years with no restrictions except those that the executive branch chooses to impose on itself — or, in the case of Swift, that the banks themselves are able to demand. This seems to us very much the sort of thing the other branches of government, and the public, should be nervously aware of. We would have been very happy if Congressman Peter King, the Long Island Republican who has been so vocal in citing the Espionage Act, had been as aggressive in encouraging his colleagues to do the oversight job they were elected to do.

The United States will soon be marking the fifth anniversary of the war on terror. The country is in this for the long haul, and the fight has to be coupled with a commitment to individual liberties that define America's side in the battle. A half-century ago, the country endured a long period of amorphous, global vigilance against an enemy who was suspected of boring from within, and history suggests that under those conditions, it is easy to err on the side of security and secrecy. The free press has a central place in the Constitution because it can provide information the public needs to make things right again. Even if it runs the risk of being labeled unpatriotic in the process.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/28/opinion/28Wed1.html?_r=1&oref=slogin


The Public Editor
Secrecy, Security, the President and the Press
Sign In to E-Mail This Print Single Page Save By BYRON CALAME
Published: July 2, 2006
THE Bush administration's unusually harsh attacks on The New York Times for exposing a secret banking-data surveillance program have turned a glaring spotlight on the paper's decision to publish the article.

The flood of reader e-mails reacting to the June 23 article has left hundreds of messages in various newsroom in-boxes at The Times. Roughly 1,000 e-mails have come to me, about 85 percent of them critical of the decision to publish the story and a large fraction venomous. It was time to take a close look at the handling of the article in search of answers.

My close look convinced me that Bill Keller, the executive editor, was correct in deciding that Times readers deserved to read about the banking-data surveillance program. And the growing indications that this and other financial monitoring operations were hardly a secret to the terrorist world minimizes the possibility that the article made America less safe.

The banking-data surveillance program, set up in 2001, is run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department. It provided access to records of transactions routed through a Belgian consortium by banks and financial institutions around the world. More than 11 million transactions involving about $6 trillion are routed daily through the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.

So what were the most solid reasons to publish the story?

There was a significant question as to how secret the program was after five years. "Hundreds, if not thousands, of people know about this," Mr. Keller said he was told by an official who talked to him on condition of anonymity. The 25 bankers from numerous nations on the Swift board of directors, and their predecessors going back to 2001, knew about the arrangement. So did some consortium executives and staff members — a group that probably expanded during this period. Starting in 2003, Swift representatives had to be stationed alongside any government intelligence official searching the data.

Further support for the conclusion that the Swift program hasn't remained totally hidden from terrorists, or anyone else, emerged last week. A former State Department official who has served on a United Nations counterterrorism group pointed to a 2002 United Nations report noting that the United States was monitoring international financial transactions. Swift and similar organizations were mentioned in the publicly available report, although there were no details. "The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions," the report noted.

The Times's June 23 article "awoke the general public" to the Swift program and "in that sense, it was truly new news," Victor Comras, the former State Department official, wrote on The Counterterrorism Blog last week. "But," he added, "the information was fairly well known by terrorism financing experts back in 2002."

The administration has sometimes invited press attention to its effort to track terrorist financing. In September 2003, Treasury Secretary John W. Snow and a team of his aides took reporters from The Times and other papers on a six-day tour on a military aircraft "to show off the department's efforts," Mr. Keller and Dean Baquet, the editor of The Los Angeles Times, noted in a joint Op-Ed commentary that appeared yesterday. The aides "discussed many sensitive details of their monitoring efforts, hoping they would appear in print and demonstrate the administration's relentlessness against the terrorist threat," according to the two editors.

Another reason Times editors were right to proceed with the 3,550-word Swift story was the skimpy Congressional oversight of the program. Secrecy is vital for intelligence and national security programs, but so is oversight by the courts or elected legislators. The Swift program, however, doesn't seem to have any specific Congressional approval or formal authorization. The Treasury Department has not provided a list of who in Congress was informed, or when, The Times has reported.

Eric Lichtblau, one of the two reporters who wrote the Swift story, told me the administration briefed a limited number of Congressional leaders — apparently from both parties, but not the full intelligence or banking committees — toward the beginning of the program. It wasn't until the Treasury Department learned that The Times was working on the story, Mr. Lichtblau said, that the administration apparently briefed all members of the intelligence committees. Whether there are official standards established for the Swift program or not, the weak Congressional oversight over the past five years deserved public scrutiny.

The most fundamental reason for publishing the article, of course, was the obligation of a free press to monitor government and other powerful institutions in our society. "Our default position — our job — is to publish information if we are convinced it is fair and accurate," Mr. Keller wrote in a letter to readers posted online last weekend, "and our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough." He added:

"The question we start with as journalists is not 'why publish?' but 'why would we withhold information of significance?' We have sometimes done so, holding stories or editing out details that could serve those hostile to the U.S. But we need a compelling reason to do so."

What about the administration's reasons for demanding that The Times not publish?

Mr. Keller said the "central argument" senior officials gave against publishing the Swift article was that international bankers would stop cooperating. In his weekend letter, he cited two reasons that argument didn't stop him from publishing the story: First, the consortium provides data to comply with administrative subpoenas issued by the Treasury Department — a legal obligation. "Second, if, as the administration says, the program is legal, highly effective, and well protected against invasion of privacy, the bankers should have little trouble defending it." So far, Swift hasn't publicly indicated any intention to stop cooperating.

For me, the most substantial argument against running the story was the acknowledgment that the Swift program was letter-of-the-law legal, had helped catch some terrorists and had a clean record on privacy abuse. But full-bore oversight would have had to be part of that picture to make a convincing case that the program deserved to continue in secrecy, with its access to Swift's mother lode of financial data.

Often obscured in the past week's hot rhetoric over The Times's decision to publish the Swift article were the occasions when the paper's editors have chosen to hold or modify a story when warned by government officials that lives or national security might be endangered. "Few people are aware when we decide to hold an article," noted Mr. Keller and Mr. Baquet in their joint commentary. Apart from The Times's decision to hold the December story about the National Security Agency's warrantless eavesdropping for more than a year, it turns out the paper has decided not to publish stories that "might have jeopardized efforts to protect vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear material," according to the joint commentary. The Times has also held stories about "highly sensitive counterterrorism initiatives that are still in operation," the Op-Ed piece noted.

"There is no magic formula, no neat metric for either the public's interest or the dangers of publishing sensitive information," the two editors concluded. "We make our best judgment."

The best judgment of these two editors served their readers well in the case of the Swift story. In the face of intense administration pressure in a country that's unusually polarized politically, they correctly decided to make sure their readers were informed about the banking-data surveillance.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/02/opinion/02pub-ed.html?hp


Op-Ed Contributors
A Secret the Terrorists Already Knew
E-MailPrint Save By RICHARD A. CLARKE and ROGER W. CRESSEY
Published: June 30, 2006
COUNTERTERRORISM has become a source of continuing domestic and international political controversy. Much of it, like the role of the Iraq war in inspiring new terrorists, deserves analysis and debate. Increasingly, however, many of the political issues surrounding counterterrorism are formulaic, knee-jerk, disingenuous and purely partisan. The current debate about United States monitoring of transfers over the Swift international financial system strikes us as a case of over-reaction by both the Bush administration and its critics.

Going after terrorists' money is a necessary element of any counterterrorism program, as President Bill Clinton pointed out in presidential directives in 1995 and 1998. Individual terrorist attacks do not typically cost very much, but running terrorist cells, networks and organizations can be extremely expensive.

Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist groups have had significant fund-raising operations involving solicitation of wealthy Muslims, distribution of narcotics and even sales of black market cigarettes in New York. As part of a "follow the money" strategy, monitoring international bank transfers is worthwhile (even if, given the immense number of transactions and the relatively few made by terrorists, it is not highly productive) because it makes operations more difficult for our enemies. It forces them to use more cumbersome means of moving money.

Privacy rights advocates, with whom we generally agree, have lumped this bank-monitoring program with the alleged National Security Agency wiretapping of calls in which at least one party is within the United States as examples of our government violating civil liberties in the name of counterterrorism. The two programs are actually very different.

Any domestic electronic surveillance without a court order, no matter how useful, is clearly illegal. Monitoring international bank transfers, especially with the knowledge of the bank consortium that owns the network, is legal and unobjectionable.

The International Economic Emergency Powers Act, passed in 1977, provides the president with enormous authority over financial transactions by America's enemies. International initiatives against money laundering have been under way for a decade, and have been aimed not only at terrorists but also at drug cartels, corrupt foreign officials and a host of criminal organizations.

These initiatives, combined with treaties and international agreements, should leave no one with any presumption of privacy when moving money electronically between countries. Indeed, since 2001, banks have been obliged to report even transactions entirely within the United States if there is reason to believe illegal activity is involved. Thus we find the privacy and illegality arguments wildly overblown.

So, too, however, are the Bush administration's protests that the press revelations about the financial monitoring program may tip off the terrorists. Administration officials made the same kinds of complaints about news media accounts of electronic surveillance. They want the public to believe that it had not already occurred to every terrorist on the planet that his telephone was probably monitored and his international bank transfers subject to scrutiny. How gullible does the administration take the American citizenry to be?

Terrorists have for many years employed nontraditional communications and money transfers — including the ancient Middle Eastern hawala system, involving couriers and a loosely linked network of money brokers — precisely because they assume that international calls, e-mail and banking are monitored not only by the United States but by Britain, France, Israel, Russia and even many third-world countries.

While this was not news to terrorists, it may, it appears, have been news to some Americans, including some in Congress. But should the press really be called unpatriotic by the administration, and even threatened with prosecution by politicians, for disclosing things the terrorists already assumed?

In the end, all the administration denunciations do is give the press accounts an even higher profile. If administration officials were truly concerned that terrorists might learn something from these reports, they would be wise not to give them further attention by repeatedly fulminating about them.

There is, of course, another possible explanation for all the outraged bloviating. It is an election year. Karl Rove has already said that if it were up to the Democrats, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi would still be alive. The attacks on the press are part of a political effort by administration officials to use terrorism to divide America, and to scare their supporters to the polls again this year.

The administration and its Congressional backers want to give the impression that they are fighting a courageous battle against those who would wittingly or unknowingly help the terrorists. And with four months left before Election Day, we can expect to hear many more outrageous claims about terrorism — from partisans on both sides. By now, sadly, Americans have come to expect it.

Richard A. Clarke and Roger W. Cressey, counterterrorism officials on the National Security Council under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, are security consultants.
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/30/opinion/30clarke.html?ex=1151812800&en=19dc78d0db854cf4&ei=5087%0A


Threats & Responses

Go to Complete Coverage »

The executive editor of The Times responded to readers.

Snow's Letter to the Editor

The Treasury secretary says terrorists will change tactics.

  • Snow's Letter to Keller
  • Op-Ed by L.A. Times Editor

    Dean Baquet defended his publication of the report.

    Congressman's Letter

    Representative Peter King, chairman of the homeland security panel. (pdf)

    Related

    Damage Study Urged on Surveillance Reports (June 28, 2006)

    Bush Says Report on Bank Data Was Disgraceful (June 27, 2006)

    Court Review of Wiretaps May Be Near, Senator Says (June 26, 2006)

    Cheney Assails Press on Report on Bank Data (June 24, 2006)

    Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror (June 23, 2006)

    Behind Bush's Fury, a Vow Made in 2001
    E-MailPrint Reprints Save By SCOTT SHANE
    Published: June 29, 2006

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/29/washington/29intel.html
    WASHINGTON, June 28 — 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.

    Skip to next paragraph
    Related
    Damage Study Urged on Surveillance Reports (June 28, 2006)
    Bush Says Report on Bank Data Was Disgraceful (June 27, 2006)
    Court Review of Wiretaps May Be Near, Senator Says (June 26, 2006)
    Cheney Assails Press on Report on Bank Data (June 24, 2006)
    Bank Data Is Sifted by U.S. in Secret to Block Terror (June 23, 2006)

    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.

    "I wouldn't be surprised if these recent articles have made it more difficult to get cooperation from our friends in Europe, since it may make their cooperation with the U.S. less politically palatable," Mr. Wechsler said.

    Though privacy advocates have denounced the examination of banking transactions, the Swift consortium has defended its cooperation with the counterterrorism program and has not indicated any intention to stop cooperating with the broad administrative subpoenas issued to obtain its data.

    A former federal prosecutor who handled major terrorism cases, Andrew C. McCarthy, said he believed that the greatest harm from news reports about such classified programs was the message that Americans could not keep secrets.

    "If foreign intelligence services think anything they tell us will end up in the newspapers, they'll stop sharing so much information," said Mr. McCarthy, now a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington.

    Mr. McCarthy said he thought the Swift disclosure might encourage terrorist plotters to stop moving money through the banking system, depriving the United States and its allies of a valuable window on their activities. "Methods they assumed were safe they now know are not so safe," he said.

    But Bob Kerrey, a member of the 9/11 commission and former Democratic senator from Nebraska, took a different view, saying that if the news reports drive terrorists out of the banking system, that could actually help the counterterrorism cause.

    "If we tell people who are potential criminals that we have a lot of police on the beat, that's a substantial deterrent," said Mr. Kerrey, now president of New School University. If terrorists decide it is too risky to move money through official channels, "that's very good, because it's much, much harder to move money in other ways," Mr. Kerrey said.

    A State Department official, Anthony Wayne, made a parallel point in 2004 before Congress. "As we've made it more difficult for them to use the banking system," Mr. Wayne said, "they've been shifting to other less reliable and more cumbersome methods, such as cash couriers."

    As such testimony suggests, government agencies have often trumpeted their successes in tracking terrorist funding. President Bush set the tone on Sept. 24, 2001, declaring, "We're putting banks and financial institutions around the world on notice — we will work with their governments, ask them to freeze or block terrorists' ability to access funds in foreign accounts."

    Since then, the Treasury Department has produced dozens of news releases and public reports detailing its efforts. Though officials appear never to have mentioned the Swift program, they have repeatedly described their cooperation with financial networks to identify accounts held by people and organizations linked to terrorism.

    Working with "our allies abroad and our partners in the private sector," an April news release said, "Treasury follows the terrorists' money trails aggressively, exploiting them for intelligence."

    Representative Peter T. King, Republican of New York, convened a hearing in 2004 where Treasury officials described at length their efforts, assisted by financial institutions, to trace terrorists' money. But he has been among the most vehement critics of the disclosures about the Swift program, saying editors and reporters of The New York Times should be imprisoned for publishing government secrets.

    In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. King said he saw no contradiction. "Obviously we wanted the terrorists to know we were trying to track them," Mr. King said. "But we didn't want them to know the details."
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/29/washington/29intel.html

    Click here to subscribe to the APFN RSS feed.

    Subscribe to the APFN.net RSS feed

    You can subscribe to this RSS feed in a number of ways, including the following:

    • Drag the orange RSS button into your News Reader
    • Drag the URL of the RSS feed into your News Reader
    • Cut and paste the URL of the RSS feed into your News Reader
    One-click subscriptions
    If you use one of the following web-based News Readers, click on the appropriate button to subscribe to the RSS feed.
    my yahoo
    bloglines
    newsgator

    American Patriot Friends Network

    "....a network of net worker's..

    APFN Message Board

    APFN Sitemap

    APFN Contents Page

    APFN Home Page

               E-Mail: apfn@apfn.org

     **COPYRIGHT NOTICE** In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any
    copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without
    profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in
    receiving the included information for non-profit research and
    educational purposes only.
    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

    Hit Counter