Wednesday, June 28, 2006

MORE FIN DATA PROGRAM FALLOUT -- After yesterday's stiff pushback by the administration, NYT responds:

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.
And a U.S. Senator called for a damage assessment: "Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, asked the director of national intelligence on Tuesday to assess any damage to American counterterrorism efforts caused by the disclosure of secret programs to monitor telephone calls and financial transactions."

Howard Kurtz chronicles the "piling on": "Even by modern standards of media-bashing, the volume of vitriol being heaped upon the editors on Manhattan's West 43rd Street is remarkable -- especially considering that the Los Angeles Times and Wall Street Journal also published accounts Friday of a secret administration program to monitor the financial transactions of terror suspects. So, in its later editions, did The Washington Post."

Meanwhile: "A human rights group in London said Tuesday that it had lodged complaints in 32 countries against a banking consortium in Brussels, contending that it violated European and Asian data protection rules by providing the United States with confidential information about international money transfers."