WSJ: Murtha asked the Times not to publish the SWIFT story

posted at 8:58 pm on June 30, 2006 by Allahpundit

According to Tony Fratto, the Treasury Department’s Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs. I think.

[Fratto] first contacted the Times some two months ago. He had heard Times reporters were asking questions about the highly classified program involving Swift, an international banking consortium that has cooperated with the U.S. to follow the money making its way to the likes of al Qaeda or Hezbollah. Mr. Fratto went on to ask the Times not to publish such a story on grounds that it would damage this useful terror-tracking method.

Sometime later, Secretary John Snow invited Times Executive Editor Bill Keller to his Treasury office to deliver the same message. Later still, Mr. Fratto says, Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton, the leaders of the 9/11 Commission, made the same request of Mr. Keller. Democratic Congressman John Murtha and Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte also urged the newspaper not to publish the story.

I assume Fratto told them the bit about Murtha, although it’s slightly ambiguous as written. It may be that the Journal knows independently, from its own reporting on the story, that Murtha was asking people not to publish. Or it may be that they’re speculating about what Murtha told the Times based on the fact that Bill Keller mentioned him to CNN the other day.

If this did come from Fratto, it probably means Murtha was asked to get involved by Treasury. Presumably it also means that Murtha knew about the program already — but how? His only committee assignment, as far as I can tell, is the House Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on defense. Would they have been briefed by Bush on something like this? Or did Treasury bring Murtha into the fold specifically for the purpose of appealing to the Times, knowing that Keller would have a hard time saying no to his puppy-dog anti-war eyes?

This is all besides the point, though. The fact is, neither Fratto nor anyone else knows what Murtha said to Keller. We do know from Keller’s interview with CNN that at least one person enlisted by the administration to make the case for not publishing ended up doing the opposite. So who is it? Snow and Negroponte are cabinet members; Kean’s given interviews since the Times story broke saying what a mistake it was to publish; Hamilton is a Democrat, but the 9/11 Commission he co-chaired gave the administration an A- for its terror-finance policing — and according to Kean, Hamilton was the member of the Commission who was briefed about the SWIFT program so he likely had a lot of input into assigning that grade. Which suggests he thinks the program has some value too.

That leaves Murtha, who’s studiously avoided commenting on his part in this. If he comes out and admits that he went to bat for Bush, he pisses off the Kossacks. If he comes out and admits that he double-crossed Bush, he pisses off everyone else. Silence is golden.

Meanwhile, there’s a new op-ed about the SWIFT program in the Times today called “A Secret the Terrorists Already Knew.” The terrorists who didn’t already know, like Hambali, aren’t mentioned — but Karl Rove is.

Which former intelligence official wrote it? Three guesses, and you shouldn’t need the last two. Here’s a hint: it’s not Larry Johnson. I said Rove is mentioned, not that he’s accused of killing his mother.

Update: Reader Ajay C. reminds me that Murtha voted against the House anti-blabbermouth resolution yesterday. Was his hand forced by politics? Or did he genuinely disagree with it?

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The only way I can see Mouthy Murtha telling the NY Times not to print the story was if he was getting his back scratched in return. This guy is so far gone and such a crook there’s no way he’d do anything for his country on principle alone.

darwin on June 30, 2006 at 9:25 AM

I stick by my original comment, right after the Keller CNN interview –

Excerpt from Secretary Snow’s letter to Mr. Keller:

Over the past two months, Treasury has engaged in a vigorous dialogue with the Times – from the reporters writing the story to the D.C. Bureau Chief and all the way up to you. It should also be noted that the co-chairmen of the bipartisan 9-11 Commission, Governor Tom Kean and Congressman Lee Hamilton, met in person or placed calls to the very highest levels of the Times urging the paper not to publish the story. Members of Congress, senior U.S. Government officials and well-respected legal authorities from both sides of the aisle also asked the paper not to publish or supported the legality and validity of the program.

From the names Mr. Keller listed in the CNN interview, and based on the exerpt, above, this leaves only Mr. Murtha to have been the one for publication of the program.

While ‘silence is golden’, it is also very telling and a strong form of communications. Mr. Murtha has to come ‘clean’ or he will be exposed by process of elimination. The Bush Admin. can release the names of those who were briefed, closer to Nov.

Entelechy on June 30, 2006 at 10:57 AM

Well IF Murtha DID try to convince the Times not to publish the story he should be given credit for that.

Labamigo on June 30, 2006 at 11:03 AM

I cant believe the stupidity of the Times & RICHARD A. CLARKE and ROGER W. CRESSEY. Not only has the program already worked against terrorists, it was probably working as they wrote the treasonous piece. They say “they knew”. Yup dummy, they knew, so do criminals know that there is DNA, blood,camera’s financial tracking. Our police and FBI and law enforcement dont catch millions of criminals annually because their “supermen”,they catch the bad guys because they make MISTAKES. EACH AND EVERY ONE, Just like terrorists MAKE MISTAKES, unless someone warns them about a certain mistake. The Slimes just brought it to the forefront, setting us back 10 years. A frickin decade.
RICHARD A. CLARKE and ROGER W. CRESSEY -in the fools own words “many of the political issues surrounding counterterrorism are formulaic, knee-jerk, disingenuous and purely partisan.” PARTISAN INDEED, you’re on the side of the enemy, your own political issues caused this act against Americans. You described yourself, assh*le(s).
-Find the leakers, prosecute any who broke the law, including the Times.

shooter on June 30, 2006 at 11:15 AM

whoops -THEY’RE

shooter on June 30, 2006 at 11:18 AM

So… can you still get a Pulitzer for your front-page-above-the-fold scoop if everybody already knew about it?

Jim Treacher on June 30, 2006 at 2:27 PM

COUNTERTERRORISM has become a source of continuing domestic and international political controversy. Much of it, like the role of the Iraq war in inspiring new terrorists, deserves analysis and debate. Increasingly, however, many of the political issues surrounding counterterrorism are formulaic, knee-jerk, disingenuous and purely partisan.

You can’t parody this stuff. It mocks itself while trying to be serious.

Pablo on June 30, 2006 at 7:19 PM

If you believe that Murtha asked the times not to publish this, contact me immediately. I have some wonderful land in Florida to sell you.

NEMETI IN SYRACUSE on June 30, 2006 at 11:53 PM

Gym Teacher:

So… can you still get a Pulitzer for your front-page-above-the-fold scoop if everybody already knew about it?


Jaibones on July 1, 2006 at 12:18 AM


Jaibones on July 1, 2006 at 12:18 AM

What if Mr. Murtha was among those who were briefed on the program, then he leaked it to the NYT and then asked them not to publish? Why the change of mind/heart? Just thinking…

We need to know more about this and the MSM could get busy; will it? Will the Congress try to sort this out? Will the Administration? Are there reasons why they would want to protect the leaker, until later?

Entelechy on July 1, 2006 at 12:39 AM

Based on past performance and now silence, Murtha looks like the turd in the punch bowl.

Wade on July 1, 2006 at 9:57 AM

Ummm… hey out there reporters… how about just asking MURTHA???


Romeo13 on July 2, 2006 at 12:16 PM

If Murtha asked them to stop, he should be leading the special ops team as they shut down the Gray Lady NTY, thier printers, editors, lawyers, and newspaper deliverers.

This is not just treason, it is out and out warfare by the NTY against the military strategies of this country.

If this country were UNITED, even if we stood alone, in our resolve, the war would end in about three months.

The NTY/MSM are not just being stupid and ignorant. They have battle plans and strategy, and it is against our president and the operations of the U.S. Military.

Therefore, if Murtha is truly a patriot, then everything he does should be designed to execute the war that he and congress voted for, nearly unanimously.

“By their fruit, you will know them”, said the Teacher and our Maker. Murtha’s tracks are not hard to decipher.

CountryDoc on July 2, 2006 at 5:22 PM

Perhaps Murtha was confused again.

gary on July 4, 2006 at 8:46 AM

This doesn’t make sense to me. If what Murtha says is always the exact opposite of what is right and good, does this mean that the Times SHOULD have published the story?? What??

Rosetta on July 4, 2006 at 3:50 PM

Murtha just thought that the information would be printed in Okinawa!

MCPO Airdale on July 4, 2006 at 6:20 PM

Bishop on February 10, 2010 at 6:29 PM


DarkCurrent on March 14, 2011 at 5:16 PM

test 2

DarkCurrent on April 9, 2011 at 5:07 AM

test 3

DarkCurrent on October 24, 2011 at 1:11 PM