05 Jul 2006

Times’ Stories Compromised Three Investigations

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The American Spectator has learned from Treasury and Justice Department officials more scarifying details about the US Government’s attempts to persuade both the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times to refrain from publishing the SWIFT story.

According to Treasury and Justice Department officials familiar with the briefings their senior leadership undertook with editors and reporters from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, the media outlets were told that their reports on the SWIFT financial tracking system presented risks for three ongoing terrorism financing investigations. Despite this information, both papers chose to move forward with their stories.

“We didn’t give them specifics, just general information about regions where the investigations were ongoing, terrorist organizations that we believed were being assisted. These were off the record meetings set up to dissuade them from reporting on SWIFT, and we thought the pressing nature of the investigations might sway them, but they didn’t,” says a Treasury official.

In fact, according to a Justice Department official, one of the reporters involved with the story was caught attempting to gain more details about one of the investigations through different sources. “We believe it was to include it in their story,” says the official….
“We thought that once the reporters and editors understood that one, these were not warrantless searches, and two, that this was a successful program that had netted real bad guys, and three, that it was a program that was helping us with current, ongoing cases, they would agree to hold off or just not do a story,” says the U.S. Treasury official. “But it became clear that nothing we said was going sway them. Whomever they were talking to, whoever was leaking the stuff, had them sold on this story.”

To that end, the Justice Department has quietly and unofficially begun looking into possible sources for the leak. “We don’t think it’s someone currently employed by the government or involved in law enforcement or the intelligence community,” says another Justice source. “That stuff about ‘current and former’ sources just doesn’t wash. No one currently working on terrorism investigations that use SWIFT data would want to leak this or see it leaked by others. We think we’re looking at fairly high-ranking, former officials who want to make life difficult for us and what we do for whatever reasons.”

The fact that this last especially outrageous violation of national security appears likely to motivate the Justice Department to get serious about catching the Pouting Spooks responsible, and bringing them to justice, sheds a single ray on sunshine on the appalling situation. The truth of the matter is, all they need to do is get one cowardly squealer to talk, and they can probably bag the whole lot. In that company, too, cowardly squealers are probably a dime a dozen.

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