***updates*****"Doors slaming and anger galore at the DOJ this morning - DOJ to proceed in coming weeks****for background see here, March 2006 Slate Article "Bill Keller in Chains"Jack Shafer's take on Section 798......

By the way, the MSM got it wrong again. Keller wasn't asked, he and other editors were warned not to print, as I said, they chose to defy*************end of updates


Well, well, our friends with Al Qaeda,, the "Traitor Twins" Eric Lichtblau and James Risen let another tool in the war on terror out of the bag and thus devulge classified information to the enemy once again.

"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.

The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of 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 or 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 undersecretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview 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 sensitive 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."

There is nothing earth shatering here, this is a long standing surveillance program that Federal LE and local LE have used for years. The power is the President's to use, and nothing illegal is going on here. As the "Traitor Twins" can't help but tell us that this program has nabbed serveral important suspects in the GWOT. Yet

Both Risen and Lichtblau, are indeed forming their own rope as one major investigation with referrals will be concluding in the coming weeks. The word is that there will be a showdown extraordinair between the DOJ and several media outlets - the Ny Times is of specific interest, in at least two probes. More on that later.

Per NRO's "The Media Blog":

"The duo of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen have published the details of yet another classified national-security program. This time, they exposed the workings of a database of financial records that the administration has used to track al Qaeda's banking transactions:

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."

According to the NYT's own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the "public interest" (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public's interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn't the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program's effectiveness. It is the New York Times.

National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won."

I think it's time to resurrect the idea I had back in December that American's who are tired of the leaks, get an attorney and file a class action suit again the Ny Times, Jame Risen and Eric Lichtlbau for damaging our individual and national security. It's time for the people to speak up and say, "No, you will not endanger us any longer". Any attorneys in the house speak up and pass the word. I've got a nickle or two I'm willing to spend.

UPDATE: The LA Times and Wall Street Journal join Al Qaeda as well.

So blowing our national security secrets is a "tough call" but acceptable, but it was a travesty for Novak to out Langley desk jockey Plame for attempting to undermine the President a time of war.

I would suggest hitting back where it hurts. Cancelling your subscriptions (as I did the morning) to the WSJ and the La Times. A small measure, but why feed 'em?

MAJOR UPDATE: Well, well....it seems that this isn't such a BIG secret - a least not just a "Bush policy". This now DISCLOSED program is in the PATRIOT ACT. Originally called the Financial Anti-Terrorism Act In October 17, 2001 bill passed in the House of Representatives: 412-1. The only person to vote "Nay" was Ronald Paul (Republican, TX). (more here.

In fact the LA Times BREATHLESSLY reports: "The U.S. government, without the knowledge of many banks and their customers, has engaged for years in a secret effort to track terrorist financing by accessing a vast database of confidential information on transfers of money between banks worldwide.

The program, run by the Treasury Department, is considered a potent weapon in the war on terrorism because of its ability to clandestinely monitor financial transactions and map terrorist webs. "

WRONG LA Times. Banks DO KNOW about the program and in fact many US Banks use a company called Aquilan who touts:

"Aquilan Patriot Manager offers the quickest path to full compliance with the USA PATRIOT Act, including Anti-Money Laundering (AML) screening requirements, Customer Identification Program (CIP) requirements, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) rules, and required Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) monitoring. By extracting essential information from both client and administration systems, Aquilan helps financial services institutions assemble the 360 view of customer relationships required to identify suspicious activity and meet regulatory requirements."

It took me one phone call to get this info and a Google search.

This isn't a "blockbuster", it's old news and as such simply another attempt to "get Bush" by the MSM - even if it endangers (as it has seriously done) our national security. More at Allah Pundit.

UPDATE: More here, and here as well. Again, how can the MSM with a straight face pass this off as some kind of NEW story? Simple - they don't think we can catch them lying.

UPDATE II: Michelle Malkin is posting the backlash letters to the MSM. They stepped on it this time.

UPDATE III: Andy McCarthy at NRO - tell it son!


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