Tuesday, June 27, 2006

FIN DATA PROGRAM STORY -- Administration officials have shifted their response tosquarely criticize the NYT decision to report on the program, perhaps following Instapundit's lead, especially after NYT exec editor Keller's less-than-stellar defense.

Leading the charge was President Bush: "President Bush offered an impassioned defense of his secret international banking surveillance program yesterday, calling it a legal and effective tool for hunting down terrorists and denouncing the media's disclosure of it as a "disgraceful" act that does "great harm" to the nation." See also LA Times.

NYT carried Keller's defense:
The executive editor of The Times, Bill Keller, said in an e-mail statement on Monday evening that the decision to publish had been "a hard call." But Mr. Keller noted that since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration has "embarked on a number of broad, secret programs aimed at combating terrorism, often without seeking new legal authority or submitting to the usual oversight."

He added, "I think it would be arrogant for us to pre-empt the work of Congress and the courts by deciding these programs are perfectly legal and abuse-proof, based entirely on the word of the government."
And FishbowlDC provided a little insight as to who was (or was not) involved in attempting to stop NYT from running the story:
[DC Examiner reporter Bill] Sammon: One last thing. How hard did you push to convince the press not to publish this --

[WH Press Secretary Tony] Snow: I was not directly involved. The Department of the Treasury, since it has been operating the SWIFT program, did the work, and they're the ones who made the contacts, primarily to The New York Times, but to others, as well.