In a remarkable interview on the Hugh Hewitt radio show this afternoon (Mon. June 26, 2006), Doyle McManus, Washington D.C. bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, publicly admitted that the column in his paper on Friday, the one in which a secret financial tracking program was reported, could aid terrorists who target the United States. The original column was written by Josh Meyer and Greg Miller, but McManus played a role in the decision to go forward with the story's publication.
The eye-opening interview, with audio, is at Radio Blogger. The key exchange:
HUGH HEWITT: Is it possible, in your view, Doyle McManus, that the story will in fact help terrorists elude capture?
DOYLE McMANUS: It is conceivable, yeah, although it might be worth noting that in our reporting, officials told us that this would, this disclosure would probably not affect al Qaeda, which figured out long ago that the normal banking system was not how it ought to move its money, and so turned to other unofficial and informal channels ...
It became a laugh line long ago: "If we can't [insert your favorite dubious activity here], the terrorists will have won."
National Review Online published an editorial today on the unfolding outrage over the New York Times deigning itself the country's Moderators-in-Chief -- we shall declare what the nation shall debate! -- and called for the government to take away their press credentials, their little badges of honor and access:
President Bush also denounced the revelation, saying, the disclosure was "disgraceful" and does "great harm to the United States of America."
In today’s terror-stricken world, which is more vital to the public’s interest: being safe, or being informed?
This very question has come before the management of the New York Times twice in the past six months. On both occasions, even though it went completely contrary to the national security requests of the White House, their conclusion was that ignorance is indeed not bliss.
Sadly, it appears that the Times doesn’t agree with the old maxim “Tis better to be safe than sorry,” for on June 23, in what is starting to become a semi-annual event, the Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning team of Eric Lichtblau and James Risen disclosed to America and her enemies the existence of another highly classified national security program designed to identify terrorist activity before it occurs.
In this case, since shortly after 9/11, the Central Intelligence Agency has been working with a Belgian international banking cooperative called the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications. SWIFT provides
As Brit Hume put it, "Senator Specter, who gets worked up over anything, doesn't seem bothered by the NY Times disclosure of [the anti-terror banking program]. He's going to 'look into it'."
Indeed. Specter, who began his political career as a prosecutor, played defense lawyer for the Gray Lady on this morning's Fox News Sunday. Host Chris Wallace asked the senior senator from PA "do you think the Times was wrong to publish this story as well as the NSA warrantless wiretap story, and does it rise to the level that they should be prosecuted?"
"Well, we have seen the newspapers in this country act as effective watchdogs. You had Jefferson lay out the parameter saying if he had to choose a government without newspapers or newspapers without government, he'd choose newspapers without government . . . I don't think that the newspapers can have a totally free hand. But I think in the first instance, it is their judgment.