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The Tentacle


June 28, 2006

Operation SHAFT

Kevin E. Dayhoff

Once again, The New York Times has exposed another top secret anti-terrorism plan put in place to protect Americans.

The Times, the favorite daily newspaper of al Qaeda, and quite possibly a satellite property of Aljazeera, has once again chosen to sell out our country’s national security interests in the furtherance of selling newspapers and supporting the media attack on the war in Iraq.

In an article published last Friday, entitled, “Bank Data Sifted in Secret by U.S. to Block Terror,” written by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, the Old Grey Lady displays senile dementia and details a top secret classified program in which bank transactions – which may involve the transfer of funds for the purpose of promoting or supporting terrorist acts – are tracked and investigated.

The operative word here is that the article “details” the top secret program, not merely reveals its existence.

Bear in mind, this is our government investigating the money trail of funds suspected of being used to conduct terrorist acts against Americans.

The Los Angeles Times ran a similar story the same day: “Secret U.S. Program Tracks Global Bank Transfers,” by Josh Meyer and Greg Miller.

The New York article quoted Stuart Levey, a Treasury Department undersecretary, who said that 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.”

The operation reviews “records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative (known as “SWIFT”) 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.”

Andrew McCarthy writing in the National Review says, “The effort, which the government calls the “Terrorist Finance Tracking Program” (TFTP), is entirely legal. There are no conceivable constitutional violations involved. The Supreme Court held in United States v. Miller (1976) that there is no right to privacy in financial-transaction information maintained by third parties. Here, moreover, the focus is narrowed to suspected international terrorists, not Americans…”

Does The New York Times hate President Bush so much that it will stop at nothing, including endangering American lives, to get at him?

Or better yet, best asked by the senior writer for U.S. News & World Report, Michael Barone, who wrote in a Town Hall column: “Why do they hate us? ... No, the "they" I'm referring to are the editors of The New York Times. And do they hate us? Well, that may be stretching it. But at the least they have gotten into the habit of acting in reckless disregard of our safety.” It could not have been said any better.

If you will recall, last December The Times revealed – in the midst of a war – that our commander-in-chief secretly authorized the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on U.S. citizens and others in the United States who were communicating with potential enemies overseas.

A day later, an exasperated President Bush said: "Yesterday the existence of this secret program was revealed in media reports, after being improperly provided to news organizations. As a result, our enemies have learned information they should not have, and the unauthorized disclosure of this effort damages our national security and puts our citizens at risk."

Many Americans, according to several polls, simply do not have a problem with a national security program which monitors overseas phone calls to phone numbers suspected of belonging to terrorists.

What Americans do have a problem with is being subjected to acts of terrorism in which innocent Americans die. Or, to be more specific, Americans have a problem with our country not doing everything possible to avoid another national tragedy like 9/11.

The New York Sun reported last Friday, to state the obvious, quoting a White House official, that the “president is concerned that, once again, The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is protecting the American people…. We know that terrorists look for any clue about the weapons we're using to fight them and now, with this exposure, they have more information and it increases the challenge for our law enforcement and intelligence officials.”

According to several published accounts, The New York Times executive editor, Bill Keller, who also participated in the decision to go with the December article, admitted that the Bush administration asked the paper not to publish the story as it would compromise a successful top secret anti-terrorism program and endanger American lives.

The New York Times revealed: “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.”

"We have listened closely to the administration's arguments for withholding this information, and given them the most serious and respectful consideration," Mr. Keller 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."

Since when is it in the “public interest” to compromise national security and endanger American lives?

The New York Times behavior is incomprehensible and reprehensible. The program may review a Belgium operation known as “SWIFT,” our government may call it “TFTP,” but many Americans have come to believe that the program The New York Times is conducting is giving our country’s national security the “SHAFT.”

Kevin Dayhoff writes from Westminster. E-mail him at: kdayhoff@carr.org



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