The NYT claims that the SWIFT program wasn’t news to the terrorists, but it was apparently news to Belgian officials.
The European Commission has already said that EU law does not cover the handing over of financial data by Swift. The European Parliament will debate the US action on Monday.
Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has ordered an investigation into the activities of Swift, which is regulated by the Belgian central bank and is subject to Belgian law.
Media Blog had the link first and notes what the NYT’s SWIFT disclosure is likely to do to the international anti-terror effort going forward:
Why should any company in any country cooperate with the United States? Its assistance will almost certainly become a major liability once the New York Times splashes the details all over its front page.
Between this and the WaPo’s CIA prison story, the US press is actively destroying the alliances that the Bush administration put in place to fight terror. Here’s some irony: All along the Bush administration was acting in ways that help stop terrorism by including other nations in the fight; the Times’ SWIFT disclosure along with other press exposees will isolate the US and force us to act more unilaterally in the future. Our allies won’t trust us to keep anything secret, no matter how legal or effective it might be.