Byron York writes in National Review that Tom Kean, co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, fears that the terrorist finance tracking program, which was very effective and completely legal, is over:
Thomas Kean, the co-chairman of the September 11 Commission, was briefed several weeks ago about the Treasury Department’s terrorist-finance program, and after the session, Kean says, “I came away with the idea that this was a good program, one that was legal, one that was not violating anybody’s civil liberties…and something the U.S. government should be doing to make us safer.”
Kean tells National Review Online that the New York Times’s decision to expose the terrorist finance effort — Kean called Times executive editor Bill Keller in an attempt to persuade him not to publish — has done terrible damage to the program. “I think it’s over,” Kean says. “Terrorists read the newspapers. Once the program became known, then obviously the terrorists were not going to use these methods any more.”
There are a variety of ways to transport or transfer money; electronic transfers are just one means of doing it. Now the terrorists will find other ways to make their financial transactions, which will make it more difficult for us to track them.
The exposure of the terrorist-finance program was particularly troubling to Kean because the 9/11 Commission had given high marks to the administration’s efforts in the area of terrorist financing…the only area in which the administration scored an “A” — actually an “A-” — was in its efforts on terrorist financing. “The U.S. has won the support of key countries in tackling terrorism finance,” the commissioners wrote, “though there is still much to do in the Gulf States and in South Asia. The government has made significant strides in using terrorism finance as an intelligence tool.”
Now, a major part of that effort appears to have been compromised. “That’s the way it is in this war,” says Kean. “There are a number of programs we are using to try to disrupt terrorist activities, and you never know which one is going to be successful. We knew that this one already had been.”
Not anymore, thanks to the New York Times and other media outlets.
Let’s not forget that shortly after 9/11 the editors of the New York Times demanded that the Bush Administration follow the terrorists’ financial records as one method of fighting terror:
The Bush administration is preparing new laws to help track terrorists through their money-laundering activity and is readying an executive order freezing the assets of known terrorists. Much more is needed, including stricter regulations, the recruitment of specialized investigators and greater cooperation with foreign banking authorities. There must also must be closer coordination among America’s law enforcement, national security and financial regulatory agencies….If America is going to wage a new kind of war against terrorism, it must act on all fronts, including the financial one.
Isn’t interesting that the New York Times killed the very program it demanded President Bush create. And how will the Times react if the US were to be hit by terrorists again? How else – by blaming the Bush Administration for failing to prevent the attack.