Jul 14 2006
Walter Pincus should know better – and I am sure he does. But he obviously feels the need to establish journalism’s alibi for exposing Americans to bombings and attacks like we saw in India recently. He needs to appease the media’s conciences by making up some excuse this was all known and open before (which is belied by the consistent fact that the surveillance programs caught terrorists who had not figured out how to avoid detection – yet).
We here in the US debate things initially in the open, and then many times we take them into the classified world to make them work. In attempting to make an excuse for exposing the actual, operational details of America’s Terrorist surveillance program Pincus goes back to the ‘what if’ days to show the final solution was one of those options originally openly discussed.
n February 2002, Jeffrey P. Neubert, president and chief executive of the New York Clearing House Association LLC, described the intelligence-gathering system at a hearing of the House Financial Services subcommittee on oversight and investigations. Neubert said under the proposed system, government agencies would electronically send the names of suspected terrorists or terrorist organization to financial institutions “seeking account and/or transaction ‘hits’ which would be returned to the respective [government] organizations.”
Yeah Walter, Neubert and others proposed all sorts of ideas to detect terrorists back then. Everyone wanted to help. The good news was back then no one knew which methods would be put into action. That is like saying we plan to monitor organize crime verses exposing exactly where the monitoring is being done – for example AT&T phones in NY City.
But to Walter, that is enough of a supposed cover to dismiss the fact the NY Times exposed our actual defenses (not theoretical future ones) and possibly caused the NY City tunnel bombing investigation to move too soon and miss 4 out of 7 suspects. But Pincus’ example is as dumb as all the other proffered excuses from the liberal media:
Neubert’s New York Clearing House runs the CHIPS payment system, which describes itself as “the leading private-sector payment system infrastructure for clearing and settling U.S. dollar payments.” Providing payment services to more than 1,600 financial institutions worldwide, CHIPS handles $1.5 trillion through about 8 million domestic and international transactions each day. Neubert told the subcommittee how a task force of government and financial industry personnel was also focused “on the issue beyond our borders” and proposed to “work globally to remove obstacles to the flow of information” to government entities.
What is wrong with this example from 2002? Simpe, CHIPS was an infrastructure for dealing with dollar payments. Any terrorist worth their salt would avoid using dollars until here in the US. So this example doesn’t compare to the SWIFT program which overseas all denominations. So any terrorist reading this might conclude it was OK to transact business in local currencies moving through Europe. But Pincus is openly misinforming his readers, which is supposed to be a sin of journalism (but seems to a badge of liberal ‘reporting’):
The testimony was one of several examples where government and industry officials have publicly described how counterterrorism agencies access financial records to track terrorists and shut down their funding, leading some lawmakers and counterterrorism specialists to doubt assertions that the most recent revelations have significantly helped al-Qaeda or other terrorists by disclosing valuable new information.
Emphasis mine. The change in what happened in 2002 from the first paragrpaphs to this one in the middle shows either duplicity or desperation. The 2002 hearings were on proposals, not the actual implementations like the recent NY Times stories. These were NOT descriptions of how it is done, they were ideas on what could be done. All Pincus has done in this lame attempt was re-publish information best left out of the current newspapers. Even if there were open discussions in 2002, why alert the terrorists to them and help them find the valuable information within the sea of information that is on the web? Oh yeah – to cover those exposed backsides of the liberal media who have made it much, much harder for us to protect our citizens from attack. Bush is trying to protect us and the media is trying to protect themselves.