Loose lips sink ships, says Hastert. The Dems don’t have the stones to make it party-line, so let’s put the over/under at 315. Smart money: over.
Tom Kean tells Byron York he suspected the fix was in:
At the end of the meeting — Kean says he asked a lot of questions — Kean was satisfied that the program was effective and should remain classified. Treasury officials asked that he call Keller. When he did, he was not encouraged. “You just get a feeling,” Kean recalls. “I just had a sense that they were leaning toward running the story.” Keller, he says, listened to his concerns but did not attempt to make the case for publication.
Why’d they run it? Because of creeping fascism, of course:
From our side of the news-opinion wall, the Swift story looks like part of an alarming pattern. Ever since Sept. 11, the Bush administration has taken the necessity of heightened vigilance against terrorism and turned it into a rationale for an extraordinarily powerful executive branch, exempt from the normal checks and balances of our system of government…
The Swift program, like the wiretapping program, has been under way for years with no restrictions except those that the executive branch chooses to impose on itself — or, in the case of Swift, that the banks themselves are able to demand. This seems to us very much the sort of thing the other branches of government, and the public, should be nervously aware of.
If this is the logic, that Bush can’t be trusted now even with unambiguously legal surveillance, then the media has carte blanche to expose counterterrorism operations. Simple as that. It’s a self-awarded license to leak. Never mind the fact that some members of Congress were aware of the program (as Bush himself emphasized the other day), or that Lee Hamilton, Kean’s co-chair on the 9/11 commission, was briefed about it. Their lie is in service to a greater “truth” — that Bush himself, and not the terrorists he’s trying to track, is the primary threat to American national security. Better that ten guilty jihadis go free than one Republican president be able to police them in secret.
Nathan Goulding nails them on another point:
Another strand of the NYT’s argument maintains that TFTP isn’t that effective, despite (by my count) at least four indentifiable examples of it actually working. The claim seems to be that smart terrorists—the ones most likely to successfully carry out an attack—would already know, or at least suspect, that Swift is being monitored. But it only takes one terrorist using Swift to lead investigators to an entire terror cell. Similar methods have been used in cracking down on organized crime: Watch for mistakes, find the weakest link, and exploit it/him/her. Now, everyone knows that Swift is being monitored—and we have one less effective weapon to use in the War on Terror.
Precisely. They’re taking enough flak from the right that they can’t rely on the “Bush is worse” defense to save them. That only works with 48% of the population. So they’re forced to argue, incredibly, that putting the story on the front page of the world’s most famous newspaper doesn’t raise awareness about the program. To see how desperate they’re getting, recall that Victor Comras wrote a post a few days ago for the Counterterrorism Blog describing his participation on a UN panel devoted to studying Al Qaeda in 2002. One paragraph of the group’s final report mentions the SWIFT program; the report itself has been viewable on a UN website for the past four years. And yet, Hambali and the other jihadis caught by the program were pinched in 2003 or later, which suggests that it didn’t make much of an impact in Islamist circles. No matter: the Counterterrorism Blog reports today that they’ve been inundated with requests for interviews with Comras. He’s their “get out of jail free” card — perhaps literally. Jack Kelly makes the case.
Update: Hugh Hewitt says the draft resolution doesn’t name either Times.