Eric Lichtblau’s story in the New York Times, June 22:
Bank Data Secretly Reviewed by U.S. to Fight Terror
By ERIC LICHTBLAU and JAMES RISEN
Eric Lichtblau today, on CNN’s Reliable Sources:
“USA Today”, the biggest circulation in the country, the lead story on their front page four days before our story ran was the terrorists know their money is being traced, and they are moving it into—outside of the banking system into unconventional means. It is by no means a secret.
(Thanks to Jim Treacher.)
Ah, you say, but the reporters don’t write the headlines. Yeah, but they write the story, don’t they? Here, courtesy of Chris Fotos, is a bullet-point list of quotes from the story saying that the program was secret:
- Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the
Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to
financial records from a vast international database…
- Officials described the Swift program as the biggest and most
far-reaching of several secret efforts to trace terrorist financing….
- Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry
executives discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York
Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified.
Swift executives have been uneasy at times about their secret role, the government and industry officials said….
- While the banking program is a closely held secret, administration
officials have held classified briefings for some members of Congress
and the Sept. 11 commission, the officials said….
- Swift’s 25-member board of directors, made up of representatives from
financial institutions around the world, was previously told of the
program. The Group of 10’s central banks, in major industrialized
countries, which oversee Swift, were also informed. It is not clear if
other network participants know that American intelligence officials
can examine their message traffic.
- In terrorism prosecutions, intelligence officials have been careful to
“sanitize,” or hide the origins of evidence collected through the
program to keep it secret, officials said.
- The idea for the Swift program, several officials recalled, grew out of
a suggestion by a Wall Street executive, who told a senior Bush
administration official about Swift’s database. Few government
officials knew much about the consortium, which is led by a Brooklyn
native, Leonard H. Schrank, but they quickly discovered it offered
unparalleled access to international transactions.
- Despite the controls, Swift executives became increasingly worried
about their secret involvement with the American government, the
Hint for Mr. Lichtblau: when they get you under oath, you’ll be much better off if the lies are less obvious than this.