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July 03, 2006

I guess this means that Wachovia can expect a few less clients

The New York Times ran a story exposing the monitoring of terrorist financial transactions by the United States. And the editor of the Times believes that he has done nothing wrong.
[New York Times Editor Bill] Keller told CBS host Bob Scheiffer that "when lives are clearly at risk," The Times often withholds information from publication.

"But this was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance them know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions. It's not news to the terrorists," he said.
In the past, this kind of information being revealed would be enough to put a man to death; it is the worst kind of treason. Let's review a little of what Keller said.

"When lives are clearly at risk, the Times often withholds information from publication." So, what he is saying is that by taking away information about the locations of terrorists, lives are not put at risk. I am no Vulcan, but that statement is entirely devoid of logic.

"It's not news to the terrorists." I suspect that many terrorists were unaware of the program. Many financial transactions are easy to track, and insurgents that are paranoid of their actions might consider this. But plenty may have no idea that their names might be even recognized by US intelligence. Having a full awareness of these actions taking place may eliminate banking by terrrorists. If it was risky before, it is not worth taking a chance over now.

And lastly, he believes that the First Amendment will protect him regardless of what he writes. Absolutely, unequivocally false. The First Amendment does have limitations. A person can not yell fire in a crowded theater if there is none, and many actions, which might be considered expressions of one's feelings, are explicitly illegal. Journalists have been arrested, even recently, for dealing with information they do not have clearances for. And, if caught, the source for this information could face very serious charges.

Representative Peter King of New York had this to say concerning the story.
"The Times can't have it both ways," King said. "They can't on the one hand say there's no harm in releasing this. Everybody knew about it. But on the other hand, we had to put it on Page One because it was so top secret."
Anything to sell a few more papers, eh Mr. Keller?