Signs Of The Times

Anger management issues aside, I think that the true ramifications of the Times’ (LA & NY) release of information on a top secret financial surveillance program are starting to become clear. The Times’ revelations have effectively killed the SWIFT program, not due to the terrorists becoming aware of the program, but rather due to the fact that the revelations spooked European banking officials that had previously been cooperating. This puts the terrorists at an advantage again, as they now have a sure fire transit point for their finances, where before they couldn’t be sure that their transactions weren’t being monitored. The Times have handed them a huge gift.
A secndary damaging effect is that such leaks will most likely have the effect of drying up future collaboration from Eurocrats, as they will be subject to having their cover blown by American intelligence agents with a political axe to grind leaking to a press obsessed with reliving their “glory” days in the early-to-mid ’70’s.
Arguments claiming that nothing bas been lost because the terrorists had to have guessed that they were being watched are stupid. Prior to last weekend, all they had to go on were vague suspicions, hearsay and some all too convenient arrests of comrades-in-arms. The Times handed them operational details of a working program and, in the process of doing so, neutralized our only real advantage against the terrorists: intelligence. We have Tomahawks that can hit targets from thousands of miles away, but we are at a loss without effective information telling us where and when to point those missiles.
It’s funny, too, that the Times chose to reveal the details on this ongoing operation, citing “privacy concerns” when none other than the New York Times wrote

Organizing the hijacking of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon took significant sums of money.
[snip] Washington and its allies must also disable the financial networks used by terrorists.
[snip] Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities. There must also must be closer coordination among America’s law enforcement, national security and financial regulatory agencies.
[snip] Though some smaller financial transactions are likely to slip through undetected even after new rules are in place, much of the financing needed for major attacks could dry up.
[snip] If America is going to wage a new kind of war against terrorism, it must act on all fronts, including the financial one.

[emphasis mine] Of course, that was written on September 24th, 2001, prior to the NYT being entirely consumed by full-fledged BDS.
While the losses to the US government’s ability to pursue terrorists has been severely compromised by these revelations, it remains to be seen what consequences the Timeses will see. The results of the damage assessment will likely prove interesting and Republicans in the House and Senate should be glad to know that a comfortable majority (read: a point shy of Constitutional ammendment territory) of Americans support prosecuting the media for their involvement in the leaks . 87% of those surveyed think that punishment for the leakers themselves is well-deserved.
Finally, in response to Andy One, I have to say that terrorism is an entirely different beast than the other dangers he mentioned (earthquakes, volcanos, hurricanes, etc.). Terrorism is man-made in its entirety and to associate it with natural disasters is a straw man of the highest order. Unless I missed something, and it was suddenly within the realm of Man’s power to interdict tropical depressions before they become full-fledged hurricanes. Natural disasters aren’t sentient things – they don’t actively seek the end of our civilization, nor do they hate the freedoms we hold dear, let alone subjugate women, drop walls on homosexuals or slit the throats of those that refuse to honor their god. (“‘There is no god but Gaia, and Al Gore is Her prophet!’ chanted the tornado as it ripped through an Oklahoma trailer park.”) To conflate the SWIFT progam with flood insurance is a cheap rhetorical trick, but I’ll answer Andy’s underlying point in any event: the program was legal, it had strict oversight and was reviewed by Executive and Legislative officials extremely frequently and impinged upon no one’s freedoms (well, except the terrorists, whose “freeom not to get arrested” was severely impeded). It did not rob Andy of any of his rights any more than my phone records being available to law enforcement officials at the drop of a warrant robs me of mine.

4 Comments

  1. 1) A majority of people believing the press should be punished DOES NOT make it right or legal to do so.
    2) You cannot prosecute the press without first identifying the leaker independantly of the press telling you. I personally would like to start there.
    3) Now on to your rebuttal.
    a) I don’t think terrorism and nature are as disjointed as you think, in the following sense – Neither you nor I can control the timing or results of natures wrath, and the same holds true of terrorism. As to our government, it is the opposite for both. Yes, you read that correctly. Along with the power to POTENTIALLY do something about terrorism, our government has long held the power to POTENTIALLY combat threats from nature, most notably, from the weather and the oceans. WE CAN build seawalls, flood protection, thermal warning systems. WE CAN do something to curb the effects of our pollution (and use our sway to affect other nations). WE KNOW that at a minimum, the stuff we are pouring into our atmosphere isn’t HELPING any, and many in the know will outright tell you that man has impacted the climate for the worse.
    b) You both bring me out of context AND put words in my mouth. I never stated that the SWIFT program compares to insurance of any nature; I compared the risks associated with giving up liberties to paying for insurance based on location. I did this soley because YOU argued that your concern over terrorism should be duly noted because you feel you live near a place that they may attack. You are more motivated to give up some freedom for security, and unfortunately, you can’t give up yours without giving up some of mine in the process. THAT’S where the comparison came in to play – you had NO ability to impact where I live, and I have chosen to live in an area more prone to hurricanes then you, and rightfully, our property insurance rates are higher then yours. I assume the risk. If I couldn’t or didn’t want to anymore, I move, because unlike the war on terrorism, I won’t get billions in funding approved for a hurricane deflector…
    c)
    “Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”
    — Herman Goering at the Nuremberg trials
    d) My direct lineage stretches back to pre-colonial Maine (you know, when Maine was like 4 times the size it is today). There were multiple men in my family tree who fought against tyranny, and who would rather die then be bullied and dictated to, for whom the phrase “give me liberty or give me death”, and of course, “Live free or Die” actually meant something.
    e) The History Channel is running an excellent series on The Revolution that pointedly reminds us why we rose up, and how silly a notion it was to begin with to think we stood a chance, and how close we came on a number of occasions to NOT BEING FREE. My liberties were hard won against all odds – I have no intention to hand them over lightly.

  2. Congrats, you just invoked Godwin’s Law (3c) and thus proved that you have no intellectual leg to stand on. You lose the debate.
    Your rebuttal didn’t address any of my salient points. Your rights AREN’T being infringed upon, as story after story has shown (even the Times’ stories make this point). Their revelation of an important anti-terror program served no purpose other than their own intellectual vanity and latent hostility towards/hatred of the President.

  3. http://www.snopes.com/quotes/goering.htm
    In this case, you have shot to soon, Mr. Cheney…
    Prove to me that my rights are not being eroded. You can’t, any more then I can. Because all we know of what our government is up to comes from CONFIDENTIAL SOURCES who LEAKED information they shouldn’t have.
    I am not trying to spread FUD. In this instance, there is much to fear. Far more then any single individual has of a terrosit attack.
    Now. Why aren’t you mad at NPR for letting it out that the CIA crack team that was trying to track Osama has disbanded? Isn’t Osama the one who brought on 9/11, and everything which flowed from it? We found Saddam, but are giving up (or in this case, gave up some time ago) on THE leader of the group who we KNEW is out to get us?
    Lucy, you have some splainin to do…

  4. *SWWWWIIPPP!* That was the sound of my point shooting right past your head.
    I wasn’t doubting the veracity of the Goering quote; rather, I was pointing out that explicit Nazi analogies are the last ditch efforts of a losing debating strategy (hence the Godwin invocation). From the FAQ:

    1. What is Godwin’s Law?
    Godwin’s Law is a natural law of Usenet named after Mike Godwin ([email protected]) concerning Usenet “discussions”. It reads, according to the Jargon File:
    As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.
    [snip]
    5. So – *WHAT DOES IT MEAN*?
    Fine, fine – it means that somebody’s eventually going to say something about the Nazis in any thread that lasts very long. When it happens, the thread is going to start either degenerating into a long flamewar over Nazi Germany or about Godwin’s Law. Either way, the thread is effectively over, and you can safely killfile the thread and move on.

    As to your second point, proving a negative is a virtual impossibility. The responsibility lies with those making wild accusations (in this instance, you) as to intent and/or implementation. The burden wasn’t on the gov’t to disprove Mel Gibson’s crazy theories, it was up to Mel and Julia to prove their case.
    On your third point: I hadn’t heard that NPR broke a story and ran top secret leaked information. Please provide a source for your comment. I will take a look at your source(s) and condemn NPR in equal fashion if they executed a similarly nefarious bit of reporting.
    Osama is either dead or dying – he’s nothing more than a Flash soundboard on al Zawahiri’s laptop at this point (“Quick, Ahmed, click that again!” “Ji-ji-ji-jihad! Zarq-zarq-qawi-qawi!” “Bwahahaha! It’s the ‘Dead Man’s Rap’! Oh, how Osama would roll his eyes if he could see us now. Too bad he’s a brown stain on that cave wall in Tora Bora…”).
    Your rights weren’t being trampled upon, in any case – warrants were issued and pursued, as per U.S. code. The po-po’s can get a warrant for your phone records, your financial history, etc. No different here, other than the fact that these warrants were helping to catch honest-to-goodness terrorists.

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