I think ^(link) therefore I err

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The New York Times

Story 1: The breaking of the news about the bank data sifting.
WASHINGTON, June 22 — 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 and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.
(hasn't he said in all his speeches that we will follow the money trails? Wouldn't that make you believe that money trails would be followed? Not sure about the secrecy, just the exact "how is it being done" part. ) Anywhoooo

Story 2:
WASHINGTON, June 23 — Vice President Dick Cheney on Friday vigorously defended a secret program that examines banking records of Americans and others in a vast international database, and harshly criticized the news media for disclosing an operation he said was legal and "absolutely essential" to fighting terrorism.

In story 2, you get this quote:
Lauren Weinstein, the head of the California-based Privacy Forum, an online discussion group, raised concerns about lack of independent review of the operation. "Oversight is the difference between something being reasonable and something being abuse," he said.
That's it, no context, no more information about auditing than that quote. As a reader of the news, it leaves you to believe there is no auditing, but here is this from story 1:
Among the safeguards, government officials said, is an outside auditing firm that verifies that the data searches are based on intelligence leads about suspected terrorists. "We are not on a fishing expedition," Mr. Levey said. "We're not just turning on a vacuum cleaner and sucking in all the information that we can."

In story 2, you get this quote:
The financial tracking program was disclosed Thursday by The New York Times and other news organizations. American officials had expressed concerns that the Brussels banking consortium that provides access to the database might withdraw from the program if its role were disclosed, particularly in light of anti-American sentiment in some parts of Europe.

But the consortium, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift, published a statement on its Web site on Friday, saying its executives "have done their utmost to get the right balance in fulfilling their obligations to the authorities in a manner protective of the interests of the company and its members."
I don't know about you, but this makes it sound like the hapless American govt was only worried about this story coming to light for no good reason at all. But let's go back to story 1:
The Bush administration has made no secret of its campaign to disrupt terrorist financing, and President Bush, Treasury officials and others have spoken publicly about those efforts. Administration officials, however, asked The New York Times not to publish this article, saying that disclosure of the Swift program could jeopardize its effectiveness. They also enlisted several current and former officials, both Democrat and Republican, to vouch for its value.
Swift executives have been uneasy at times about their secret role, the government and industry officials said. By 2003, the executives told American officials they were considering pulling out of the arrangement, which began as an emergency response to the Sept. 11 attacks, the officials said. Worried about potential legal liability, the Swift executives agreed to continue providing the data only after top officials, including Alan Greenspan, then chairman of the Federal Reserve, intervened. At that time, new controls were introduced.

So, the Govt's uneasiness was not out of thin air.

And then there is the third point. Back to story 2:
Mr. Specter has been at odds with the administration over another previously secret counterterrorism operation, the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program.
Similar to story 1:
The program is separate from the National Security Agency's efforts to eavesdrop without warrants and collect domestic phone records, operations that have provoked fierce public debate and spurred lawsuits against the government and telecommunications companies
Both "National Security Agency" parts are hyperlinked to a list of NYTimes stories on the agency. Neither links are specific to the program itself which would have clarified everything as in this specific NYTimes linked story that it's about "international calls" vs entirely domestic calls.
Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the intelligence agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants over the past three years in an effort to track possible "dirty numbers" linked to Al Qaeda, the officials said. The agency, they said, still seeks warrants to monitor entirely domestic communications.

Did you get all that?? I'm not a long posted blogger. I'm very lazy. I'm just trying to catch up on the news. The amount of work involved to actually get to this news story through the NYTimes today irritated the crap out of me. I was just working from memory from 2 days ago. Imagine if this second story had been a week from now, who would have bothered?
NYTimes............ ptooie

(and that is just a spit for your lousy reporting. Don't get me started on your aiding and abetting the enemy or I'll never get out of the house today!)