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Tilting at Windmills

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June 28, 2006
By: Kevin Drum

THE NYT AND NATIONAL SECURITY....So did the New York Times really do any harm by exposing the Treasury Department's terror finance tracking program? After all, surely al-Qaeda already knows we're doing our best to monitor their international money flows, right?

Henry Farrell, who sounds like he's been itching for the chance to write a monster post about this, has a monster post about this over at Crooked Timber today. Here are the key parts:

Privacy International has filed complaints with umpteen European and non-European data regulators that SWIFT has illicitly shared European citizens financial data with US authorities....The crucial enforcement authorities when it comes to issues like SWIFT arent the European Commission or the member state governments. In all probability, theyre the national level data protection authorities.

....While the issues involved touch on national security, SWIFT wasnt cooperating with the relevant authorities on national security issues (the member states). Instead, it was more or less unilaterally deciding to cooperate with an authority outside the EU the US Treasury (and through Treasury, the CIA etc). SWIFT had informally told several member state central banks what was going on but central banks arent the relevant authority under any conceivable reading. Thus (and I repeat that Im not a lawyer), it would seem to me to be to be pretty hard to make the case that this activity would fall under the national security exemption to European data protection law.

....So whats likely to happen now? There are a number of ways in which this might develop....Most likely in my opinion, is that this is going to result in enforcement action by the EU data protection authorities and to new laws in the medium term. It seems very unlikely indeed to me that SWIFTs cooperation with US authorities was legal under European law. The organization could find itself in a lot of hot water.

In other words, although the Treasury Department (probably) didn't break any U.S. laws, it's quite possible that SWIFT did break some European laws and that they'll be forced to stop providing information to Treasury unless European laws are changed, a process that's both lengthy and uncertain of success. Read Henry's full post for more detail and more nuance.

So does this mean the Times shouldn't have published this story? The arguments cut both ways. On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program. On the other hand, it looks like the damage is directly related to the fact that the program probably violated the law clearly a subject of considerable public interest. On the third hand, it was European law involved, not U.S. law, and the original Times story barely even mentioned possible violation of European law as a motivation for running the story.

In any case, that's the state of play. Stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 12:40 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (151)

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Comments

That's right, blame us, it's all our fault. We're parterning with Al Qaeda and we can't wait to see the final destruction of the Great Satan.

Posted by: The Media on June 28, 2006 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

"might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program"

I'm sorry if I missed anything previously discussed, but has this proven to be an important anti-terrorist program? Have any international bad guys been caught ot stopped or whatever because of it?

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 28, 2006 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program

Still not seeing where you get this.

I guess those terrorists will now have to move to plan B, and start packing mules with hundreds of thousands of dollars, which they then herd across the Atlantic. Or something.

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Craigie-- Hardly. What this means is that terrorists will now use things like cashier checks, which will be converted to cash at the target, and be untraceable from that point forward. It will be more inconvenient to the terrorists, but it will mean that instead of being able to track them, now we won't. Thanks a lot, New York Times.

I don't think they actively wanted to help the terrorists, but it's clear that getting 'the story' meant more than anything. It's yet more blood on their hands.

Pierre: The program helped us catch the guy behind the incident in Bali.

Posted by: American Hawk on June 28, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

If the only way our leaders can conceive of fighting terrorism is through secret law breaking in a debate free world, the war is already over.

Posted by: HungChad on June 28, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program. On the other hand, it looks like the damage is directly related to the fact that the program probably violated the law clearly a subject of considerable public interest. On the third hand, it was European law involved, not U.S. law, and the original Times story barely even mentioned possible violation of European law as a motivation for running the story.

I will stick with the safest choice (from the viewpoint of fighting the terrorists, of course).

Posted by: John on June 28, 2006 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

Aw, Europe the last bastion of democracy and government not totally bought and paid for by the rich. As compared to the US. Laws about privacy that are actually enforced. They must have learned something from Nazi Germany.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

I will stick with the safest choice (from the viewpoint of fighting the terrorists, of course).
Posted by: John

yet another repub admitting to being a pussy ... say it isn't so.

Posted by: Nads on June 28, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

You don't need mules.

You just send a person with a bag full of 500 Euro notes to the US.

I've crossed the border from HK to China at Lo Wu carrying 50K RMB in 100 RMB notes, that's 500 bills. The same number of 500 Euro notes would be over $250,000. It's a brick, but not a huge brick. Certainly not a problem to carry with you.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on June 28, 2006 at 12:56 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, it's the great alliance of MSMers, liberals, and islamofascists, all working together for, well, something. Let's not forget Jews, Communists, and the House of Windsor. And, of course, Soupy Sales. Of course, if you mention Cheney's cabal, they stick a tin-foil hat on your head and call you paranoid. Hey, what's that tapping noise?

Posted by: Kenji on June 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

This brings up a serious question.

At what point is it appropriate to throw the editor of the NYT in jail?

Can they print anything? Or are there red lines that get the NYT's editors and reports jail time if they cross them?

Posted by: Michael Friedman on June 28, 2006 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

Given this information, it's clear the Times did torpedo an important program. Even if they didn't actively want to help terrorists, this really does seem like a prosecutable offense. It really is treason, and I'm not throwing that around lightly.

The administration should very publicly explain how this program helped with Bali, and proceed to prosecute people.

Certainly, some surveillance programs may not have had proper oversight (and thus been technically illegal) and may have been ineffective. This is not one of those cases, and liberals would do well to reflexively assume it is.

Posted by: Rock on June 28, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

I am just getting into the lengthy details of this latest RW attempt to smear Liberals while pretending to protect us from evil-doers, but I am surprised that nobody has brought this up:

Does anyone remember Senator Phil Gramm (R-TX) doing everything he could to protect his banking buddies from the Clinton Administration at the expense of national security?


From:
The Sins of September 11
By William Rivers Pitt
t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Monday 13 October 2003
Discussion of Sidney Blumenthal's "The Clinton Wars"

"In Congress, Clinton was thwarted by the reactionary conservative
majority in virtually every attempt he made to pass legislation that would
attack al Qaeda and terrorism. His 1996 omnibus terror bill, which included
many of the anti-terror measures we now take for granted after September
11, was withered almost to the point of uselessness by attacks from the
right; Jesse Helms and Trent Lott were openly dismissive of the threats
Clinton spoke of.

Clinton wanted to attack the financial underpinnings of the al-Qaeda
network by banning American companies and individuals from dealing with
foreign banks and financial institutions that al Qaeda was using for its
money-laundering operations. Texas Senator Phil Gramm, chairman of the
Banking Committee, killed Clinton's bill on this matter and called it
"totalitarian." In fact, he was compelled to kill the bill because his most
devoted patrons, the Enron Corporation and its criminal executives in
Houston, were using those same terrorist financial networks to launder
their own dirty money and rip off the Enron stockholders.

Just before departing office, Clinton managed to make a deal with the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to have some twenty
nations close tax havens used by al Qaeda. His term ended before the deal
was sealed, and the incoming Bush administration acted immediately to
destroy the agreement. According to Time magazine, in an article entitled
"Banking on Secrecy" published in October of 2001, Bush economic advisors
Larry Lindsey and R. Glenn Hubbard were urged by think tanks like the
Center for Freedom and Prosperity to opt out of the coalition Clinton had
formed. The conservative Heritage Foundation lobbied Bush's Treasury
Secretary, Paul O'Neill, to do the same. In the end, the lobbyists got what
they wanted, and the Bush administration pulled America out of the plan.
The Time article stated, "Without the world's financial superpower, the
biggest effort in years to rid the world's financial system of dirty money
was short-circuted."

Seems to me that once again, RWingers are realizing the mistake they've made and are trying to cover it up with noise & nonsense.

Posted by: GK on June 28, 2006 at 1:01 PM | PERMALINK

Damn those Europeans for thinking that their principles might be more important than this decade's Great Fear.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 28, 2006 at 1:05 PM | PERMALINK

"This is not one of those cases, and liberals would do well to reflexively assume it is."

...I meant "...to NOT relexively assume it is."

Of course, if they do it will simply make clearer to the public which poeple care about national security and which don't.

Posted by: Rock on June 28, 2006 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

"It's yet more blood on their hands."

Yes, ChickenHawk, if you mean like Judith Miller helping them lie us into a war killing tens of thousands, including at least 3000 Americans. (Now, there's a symbolic number: we can destroy as many of our own lives as you can!) They certainly do have a lot to be ashamed of.

Posted by: Kenji on June 28, 2006 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Where is the information that this didn't violate US law? I see that he's arguing that it might have violated European, but I don't see where it's not violating US law. We do have financial privacy laws, and I don't know whether they were violated, but I'd like to see some good information about that.

Posted by: BRussell on June 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

"Real damage" caused by revealing violations of law isn't worth mourning. The people who caused the damage were the ones who broke the law, not the ones who caught them doing it.

Posted by: Viserys on June 28, 2006 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

Rock, since you're not a known troll, I'll start with you:

Your argument is made of sand. Kevin's rather unhelpful post is commenting on potential damage to the program - because it violates the laws of European governments and the EU. If it's breaking the laws of other countries, frankly, it deserves to be stopped - although I'm sure something can be worked out to change the laws or modify the program to make it legal - but this needs to be done.

If it wasn't a violation of European and EU laws, then the program will continue as fine as it always did. Al Quieda will continue to use the international banking system and gamble that they won't get caught. They've known that we were monitoring transactions for years and years - President Bush has mentioned it in at least twenty speeches - and they continue to use the system because they know that our ability tell terrorist transactions from normal ones is less than 100%. They will continue to use the system: some of them will get caught and some of them won't. Of course, they are also constantly trying to avoid using the system. This has been true for decades. It will continue to be true.

"Treason" charges a, quite frankly, a joke. I'd love to see them try. It would be the climbdown of the century.
Countries like Russia and China prosecute journalists for stories they don't like. Not this country. Not America. Go home.

Posted by: glasnost on June 28, 2006 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

American data protection laws basically don't exist, by EU standards. The EU treats the subject very, very seriously. (See also: the demands for flight passenger data.) And if the US Treasury Dept has a problem with that, tough shit. Let it withdraw the US from SWIFT, and see what GOP business types say.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:15 PM | PERMALINK

You just send a person with a bag full of 500 Euro notes to the US.

You know, I bet this has never occurred to any terrorists before now! Here they were, dutifully sending wire transfers back and forth, when they could have been carrying bundles of cash! I bet they're slapping themselves in the forehead at their stupidity now, I tell you what.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

And remember, if you don't allow people to send you 15 unsolicited pre-approved credit card applications a day, the terrorists will have won.

And as GK notes, both O'Neill and Snow have done their best to scupper any international treaty with respect to offshore banking. I wonder why that might be?

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Can they print anything? Or are there red lines that get the NYT's editors and reports jail time if they cross them?

I refer you to the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States. Read it.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Also, I do love the wingnuts who get all huffy about the prospect of Supreme Court justices taking notice of precedents in other countries, but then get even more huffy when they find out US law doesn't trump the laws of other countries within those countries.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

"helped us catch the guy behind the incident in Bali"
Which guy?
Bashir?
I don't think so.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 28, 2006 at 1:20 PM | PERMALINK

I still don't understand how this program doesn't violate US law. Is there legislation that specifically authorizes the federal government to obtain the private financial data of US citizens without a warrant or subpoena? I didn't think there was such a law, but if so, what is it?

Posted by: joe bob on June 28, 2006 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin tries to justify the Times's publication with speciulation that the program might violate European law. Note that the Times has never made such a claim. Also, if possible law violations are paramount, why did the Times risk violating the Espionage Act?

ISTM the Times believes they are above the law. Regrettably, they're probably right.

Posted by: ex-liberal on June 28, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

"Also, I do love the wingnuts who get all huffy about the prospect of Supreme Court justices taking notice of precedents in other countries, but then get even more huffy when they find out US law doesn't trump the laws of other countries within those countries."

Assuming it was illegal for the EU company to cooperate with the US under EU law but not under US law (which I'm not at all sure is a good assumption but lets give it to you) how does that absolve the NYT? Is Europe lacking in good investigative reporting outlets? If a US company betrays US secrets that are not violations of US law while damaging a US counter-terrorist operation why is that laudable? Can't Le Monde break the story if their journalists think it is important?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

> The EU treats the subject very,
> very seriously.

To be complete, European _law_ treats the subject of data privacy seriously. The actions of European _governments_, however, do not follow the law and are often just as intrusive as the actions of the Cheney government in the US. EU citizens have very little recourse when their goverments just ignore the parts of EU law they don't like.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 28, 2006 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

GK nails it.
There's really nothing other to discuss.

The whole NYT/Treason dust-up is nothing more than an election-year publicity stunt to generate erections in the republican base.

Posted by: Osama_Been_Forgotten on June 28, 2006 at 1:29 PM | PERMALINK

"..how does that absolve the NYT?"

Absolve the NYT [and WSJ] of what?

The details of this program have been widely discussed by people in the government and outside of it.

And there's no evidence that this program has actually accomplished anything.

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 28, 2006 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

If the Treasury Department and the C.I.A. weren't in violation of U.S. law, then I don't have much concern. That's the way the intel game is often played. Member states of the EU have done their fair share of spying on the U.S. in the past as well.

Posted by: Quinn on June 28, 2006 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

For once, can't this administration fight terrorists without either running afoul of the law, or explaining to the people and Congress why the law needs to be changed so we can debate it and then, if we decide it's a good idea, change it?

I'm tired of terrified Republicans who think that terrorists are everywhere, and who think that they are the mostest worstest enemy in the history of the world. Some of us don't live in constant fear of terrorist attacks. Some of us would much prefer a government that obeys the rules and doesn't treat citizens like chumps.

We can minimize terrorism (it is impossible to eradicate), and we can do it within the law with smart law enforcement. We don't need to run around like chickens with our heads cut off.

Posted by: Doctor Gonzo on June 28, 2006 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

how does that absolve the NYT? Is Europe lacking in good investigative reporting outlets?

Oh, please. Some papers get some stories; some get others. It was the (right-leaning) Times of London that broke the Downing Street minutes. Anyway, if the wingnuts have their way and the NYT is shut down for treason, perhaps other newspapers will get the next big story.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Comments above, like those of GK, have pointed out the immense hypocrisy of Republicans over this issue. And I agree: the Right are real bed-wetting hypocrites over this, considering that they did everything in their power to prevent Clinton from tracking terrorist financing (and the treasonous traitors are who, exactly?).

However, it would seem that there is a simple, straightforward question that we should answer:

was the financial transactions surveillance program legal, from our perspective (regardless of whether or not it is illegal from Europe's)?

In a way, it doesn't matter if the program was ultimately useful or not, because this is an entirely different kettle of fish than Bush's revolting NSA wiretapping program, which is clearly illegal.

Posted by: Wonderin on June 28, 2006 at 1:36 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to have pissed off a lot of people on the Right. Publishing it was a good decision for that if no other reason.

Posted by: steve duncan on June 28, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

ISTM the Times believes they are above the law. Regrettably, they're probably right.

ISTM you need to take the plank out of your eye before commenting on the motes in others. Stick the NYT on the docket, if you like, as long as every extra-legal outrage of your beloved BushCo takes appropriate precedence.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

was the financial transactions surveillance program legal, from our perspective (regardless of whether or not it is illegal from Europe's)?

It was probably legal in the way that sticking NSA facilities on foreign soil under the banner of local military is legal. Legal arbitrage, if you will.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

With Rove, the old saying of he saying "Jump!" and the Right Wing Noise Machine saying "How High?" is more appropriately Rove saying "Attack!" and the RWNM saying "Who this time?"

Posted by: Robert on June 28, 2006 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

It seems to have pissed off a lot of people on the Right. Publishing it was a good decision for that if no other reason.

Who's that? It seems to me the Right's been circling the wagons on this one.

Posted by: Quinn on June 28, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK
Can they print anything? Or are there red lines that get the NYT's editors and reports jail time if they cross them?

I refer you to the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States. Read it.

I've read it. But you are the first person I've seen who has claimed that espionage is automatically legal if you publish the secret information you collect in a newspaper instead of passing it secretly to your controller.

In general, the First Amendment is not considered to be absolute. Laws against libel, slander, discriminatory housing ads, and espionage are generally considered to be constitutional.

Posted by: Michael Friedman on June 28, 2006 at 1:42 PM | PERMALINK

well one thing is now without question clear:

the lot of you are no better than the "politics above all" wing of the Republican party (i.e. Rove)....
all that talk about keeping confidential and important data secret in the Plame affair was just politically-motivated b.s.
its beyond hypocrisy, its beyond reason. infantile creeps (just like Rove).

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

There was no good reason to publish. The decision is a reflection of the pomposity and the anti-Bush animus of the Times. Keller's explanation is lame.

The publication is a major miscalculation by a newspaper whose reputation and finacial status have greatly deteriorated in recent years.

Finally, it is a significant plus for Bush and Republicans. If you have any doubt about that, notice how there has been no significant democrat support for the Times action. If it ever comes out that the old limelight loving fool Murtha was the one who did not urge the Times to keep it secret, then even more problems for Murtha. I wonder if there is any chance he will be beat in his own district with all his missteps lately?

Posted by: brian on June 28, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

I bet they're slapping themselves in the forehead at their stupidity now, I tell you what.

Yes, and they're saying "I coulda had a V8!"

Which is different from the White House, where after someone gets slapped, someone else starts shouting "Moe! Larry! The cheese!"

Posted by: craigie on June 28, 2006 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

So the Bush administration essentially believes other countries' laws don't count? Way to secure a coalition of the willing, guys. This is so juvenile - we give the rest of the world the middle finger, then cry when that when they say mean things about us in return.

Posted by: moderleft on June 28, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

"President Bush has mentioned it in at least twenty speeches"

Then he's guilty of treason.

Posted by: CN on June 28, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

joe bob - on the legality of this in the US, my understanding is that the courts have held that accessing financial records is not a 4th amendment violation and doesn't require a warrant in the same way searching your home would. But after the courts made that decision, congress passed the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which required warrants or subpoenas of some type.

The patriot act loosened up some of those requirements, and now, National Security Letters are being used as a kind of catch-all subpoena, and that is apparently what the government is using as justification. But the scope of NSLs has been reduced by the courts, so I'm not sure where things stand now.

Posted by: BRussell on June 28, 2006 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan, is it passed your naptime?
Youre kinda cranky.
[Sorry Cranky]

Lets compare & contrast.

Plame The Whitehouse wants to invade & occupy a third-world nation. There is a guy taking pot-shots at one of their justifications for the invasion. As part of their attempts to shut him up, they reveal that his wife is a [undercover] CIA agent.

SWIFT a newspaper publishes information about a possibly illegal, possibly useful, definitely known program to track terrorist money flows

Posted by: Pierre Asciutto on June 28, 2006 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

as with the nsa issue, it gets back to the fruit of the poison tree. if they could have made it legal and didn't, then see enforcement actions thrown out because of that, then this "we're protecting the US by any means possible" defense is bs.

the "by any means possible" defense is a rich one from the crowd that read the 8/6/01 PDB.

Posted by: paperpusher on June 28, 2006 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

the lot of you are no better than the "politics above all" wing of the Republican party (i.e. Rove)....
all that talk about keeping confidential and important data secret in the Plame affair was just politically-motivated b.s.
its beyond hypocrisy, its beyond reason. infantile creeps (just like Rove).

I'm really not trying to be disingenuous here, but how exactly has this program been damaged? Bush has said many times since 9/11 that we would work with foreign governments to interdict terrorist finances, so the existence of the program can't be seen as any substantive breach.

Where the continuation of the program seems to be in trouble is because it violated European law, and now that the EU knows about it they may want to shut it down. But to my mind that responsibility ultimately falls back onto whomever made the decision to do this unilaterally, and without finding a way to work with the EU nations involved.

Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

"And there's no evidence that this program has actually accomplished anything."

This is false.

According to the New York Times (which I trust you will accept as a credible source for the purpose of establishing whether or not the New York Times believed the program had ever actually accomplished anything when the New York Times published reports about it) the program was instrumental in:

A) Capturing Hambali (the mastermind behind the Bali bombings)

B) Convicting Uzair Paracha (a Brooklyn man aiding Al Qaeda).

The WSJ further reports: "People familiar with the program said, for example, that it yielded useful information on the bombings last July 7 in London."

According to the Washington Post, Stuart Levy (what a non-anonymous source?) could confirm that the information [from the Swift program] has been used to confirm the identity of a major Iraqi terrorist facilitator.

Hat tip Patterico

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

The U.S. wouldn't have violated various EU laws in this program. SWIFT may have.

A lot of confusion here. And yeah, you generally do not have an expectation of privacy for international financial transactions.

Posted by: lawyer on June 28, 2006 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Have a look at http://futurezone.orf.at/it/stories/118785/
how this plays in the European media.

And then there is the nice little fact that the cooperation with a foreign intelligence agency to the detriment of locals (think of all the business espionage potential) carries a 2 years sentence in Austria.

The SWIFT executives who succumbed to the US blackmail regarding the data access are in deep legal sh*t.

Posted by: otmar on June 28, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

Even for the sake of argument, arguendo, just speculating, I'm thinking out loud here, perhaps, just saying, let's assume for just a moment that the New York Times did destroy a valuable program. That's really a shame. It could be tragic in fact.

Is the Times at fault? Uh, no.

This administration has burned all their good will. They have shown us time and time again that there is no reason for us to believe them on anything.

The Times then is just doing the role they have in society, exposing what a hidden, secretive, administration is doing.

Who are you more upset with, the Times for discussing what we are doing 4 1/2 years after 9/11, or Bush for intentionally failing to capture Bin Laden at Tora Bora?

Posted by: jerry on June 28, 2006 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

ok, my last post on this.

cyntax:

almost certainly we were working with the relevant EU nations...in the way these things are normally done. an unofficial understanding.

the problem is, once this is published and a hue and cry is raised in those countries by opposition parties, etc....then the program might be fucked.

EU privacy law is interesting...they have more financial protections than we do...but generally less privacy protection related to law and order (searches, wiretaps) and medical records.
different priorities.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

The details of this program have been widely discussed by people in the government and outside of it.

This--what Glenn Greenwald calls a "self-evidently dispositive fact"--is covered in some detail in two excellent posts on his blog from yesterday and today. Today's post cites a Boston Globe article making precisely this point: "None of those articles disclosed any meaningful operational information that was not already in the public domain"--most of it put there by the Bush administration, including by Bush himself, in the course of boasting about its antiterrorism capabilities.

The various legality questions are certainly of interest, but whether the Times committed treason by publishing an article about the program is a nonissue.

Posted by: Swift Loris on June 28, 2006 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

ok, my last post on this.

cyntax:

almost certainly we were working with the relevant EU nations...in the way these things are normally done. an unofficial understanding.

the problem is, once this is published and a hue and cry is raised in those countries by opposition parties, etc....then the program might be fucked.

EU privacy law is interesting...they have more financial protections than we do...but generally less privacy protection related to law and order (searches, wiretaps) and medical records.
different priorities.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

The republicans are getting me all mixed up-who are our enemies here? The New York Times or Osama bin Ladin? Valerie Plame or Al Quaida? Illegal aliens or all Iraqis? Totalitarian government or the bill of rights? Those that tried to let a brain-dead woman die or anyone that lived in New Orleans? Who am I supposed to hate and truly think is a terrorist? Flag burners or anyone voting against repeal of estate taxes? Should the color-coded terrorist alert system be increased in level now because terrorists can read the NYTimes or is that just used during elections?

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Those SWIFT dudes sure can keep a secret!

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 28, 2006 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

It really is treason, and I'm not throwing that around lightly.

prove it

Posted by: cleek on June 28, 2006 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK
On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program.

Leaving, for the moment, the assertion that this is an "important anti-terrorism" program aside, the only reason this revelation even potentially might damage it is because this administration's pathological aversion to legality and utter disrespect for our allies led the administration to work through foreign private bodies rather than seeking the cooperation of allied law enforcement and security agencies.

If this had been done right, it wouldn't have been jeopardized by being revealed, because it wouldn't have been illegal. The administration likes to talk about the importance of international cooperation to fight terrorism, but seems utterly uninterested in working with the governments of our allies to do that.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: the problem is, once this is published and a hue and cry is raised in those countries by opposition parties, etc....then the program might be fucked.

Nathan, I underestand what you're saying, but that just means our administration needs to d a better job of coordinating their efforts with other countries.

From reading the article at Crooked Timber it sounds like we only informed the treasury departments of the various nations and not their justice departments. Again, if something is worth doing, it's worth doing it right. Going the unilateral route often limits one's options and, personally, I expect good leaders to find solutions to these problems rather than relying on no one finding out about the illegality of what they're doing to ensure success. Fighting terrorism is too important to allow things like this to derail our programs.

Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK
At what point is it appropriate to throw the editor of the NYT in jail?

When it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal trial that they violated a Constitutionally valid criminal law for which such punishment is authorized.

They could be arrested pending trial merely on probable cause of such a violation, of course, but, they'd probably be eligible for bail, too, and so not spend much, if any, time in jail.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Didn't Bush call for the monitoring of bank transactions just a couple weeks after 9/11? How does the NYT's decision to run this story "threaten" any program that POTUS didn't already reveal? Or did he commit treason, too?

Posted by: Drasty on June 28, 2006 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK
The U.S. wouldn't have violated various EU laws in this program.

The US and its agents involved might—or might not—enjoy some form of immunity from prosecution for such violations, but I suspect that EU jurisdictions have solicitation and conspiracy laws that the US, or agents thereof, in seeking and working with SWIFT to effect the violations of EU privacy laws themselves violated.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK

November 2001 . . .

THE PRESIDENT: The United States is pressing the war against terror on every front. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the bank accounts of terrorist organizations.

President Bush announced the existence of such programs even before they were implemented.

Their "classification" is a sham designed to thwart public debate, not to prevent the terrorists from finding out about programs that the president himself has publically announced.

There can be no treason for revealing something that was already revealed and about which the president himself informed the terrorists with his very public statements.

And to quote a refrain proffered by conservatives in the Plame incident, a false refrain in that instance because it was not widely known as falsely claimed by conservatives but very applicable here, a very publically known fact can't be the basis for a finding that national security has been compromised.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

Information about the US government's use of SWIFT for tracking financial transactions has been available online since December of 2002.

Here's a link to the PDF of the UN Security Council Document-
http://documents-dds-ny.un.org/doc/UNDOC/GEN/N02/725/72/pdf/N0272572.pdf?OpenElement

Here's the relevant paragraph-
31. The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.

Posted by: Dave Latchaw on June 28, 2006 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

Swift Loris: The various legality questions are certainly of interest, but whether the Times committed treason by publishing an article about the program is a nonissue.

Exactly. And don't forget that that liberal bastion of anti-Bush animus the Wall Street Journal also publlished an article about SWIFT. Their source? Treasury Secretary John Snow

    According to US Treasury Secretary John Snow in a June 22 interview with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), US officials do not have complete access to the information and safeguards include regular outside audits. Intelligence analysts are allowed to search information only for specific individuals or groups suspected of terrorist involvement, and the data isnt subjected to pattern recognition algorithms or other data-mining techniques. The WSJ reported in 2005 that a similar program exists to monitor Western Union financial transactions.

Guess we got a traitor in the Treasury Department.

Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

Countries like Russia and China prosecute journalists for stories they don't like. Not this country. Not America. Go home.


I think what the NYT did is reprehensible.

However, the USA does NOT suppress the free press, and never will, and never should.

What will happen is that trashy, slanted, treasonous media outlets will become more and more exposed as what they are, and as a result, will decline in readership and viewership, until they are marginalized by outlets that are more fair and balanced.

In fact, that is happening already, as indicated by proven data on readership and viewership figures.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 28, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

you might want to look up something called "jurisdiction" -- I can call Hu Jintao a "ruthless tyrant" in the U.S. and although it violated Chinese law...I haven't done anything illegal. now, someone that republished my remark in China will have done something illegal.


cmdicely/cyntax:
it occurs to neither of you that maybe we couldn't do this legally in the EU without changing local law (try doing that in a bunch of different jurisdictions and without giving away what we're doing).
thus, we did it with the tacit acceptance of local governments, so long as it wasn't public.
deniability you know.

btw, have either of you ever heard of this thing called espionage? its this idea where you kind of violate foreign law but not U.S.? kind of like Valerie Plame used to do? so, it would have been acceptable to publish her identity when she was in harm's way? right?

I used to think that you were intelligent cmdicely. now I just think you're a pretentious know-it-all 1L out to score political points and who's quick with google and maybe Lexis.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

President Announces Crackdown on Terrorist Financial Network

According to the conservative commenters here, Bush committed treason in November 2001 and multiple times since then.

Now even conservatives have reason for impeachment of Bush - for if treason is an insufficient to constitute an impeachable crime under the Constitution, then nothing is!

I can't wait for conservative lemmings to inundate their GOP congressional members with requests that Bush be impeached for compromising national security.

BTW, where's the condemnation of the WSJ which also published information on these programs?

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Dave, Advocate for God:

I provided the link to that UN report yesterday.

considering that almost no one outside of the financial industry was aware of SWIFT and that very few people within the industry were aware of the extent of the SWIFT database, the Times' publication of explicit details is what is troubling.
quoting random remarks about "following the money trail" duh...
talk about confirmation bias.
by your logic, the fact that someone said we were trying to "penetrate al quaeda" makes it acceptable to publish the name of an individual actually doing so.

you're so blinded by partisanship that you've passed the point of complete cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God:

just so you don't miss this (and this goes for others of you):

by your logic, the fact that Tenet said we were trying to "penetrate al quaeda" makes it acceptable to publish the name of an individual actually doing so.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

"From reading the article at Crooked Timber it sounds like we only informed the treasury departments of the various nations and not their justice departments."

I don't understand the point of this objection. Treasury departments typically handle the investigations with respect to money. That is one of the things they do. Informing them is fine. And if for some reason that would be insufficient, they could inform members of their own justice departments. Is any serious person pretending that the EU member countries were in the dark about it?

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

I've read it. But you are the first person I've seen who has claimed that espionage is automatically legal if you publish the secret information you collect in a newspaper instead of passing it secretly to your controller.

If we were talking about espionage, you might have a point. But since we're not....

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK
you might want to look up something called "jurisdiction" -- I can call Hu Jintao a "ruthless tyrant" in the U.S. and although it violated Chinese law...I haven't done anything illegal.

I suspect that most jurisdictions criminalize an conspiracy or solicitation to commit an offense where the target offense occurs or would occur within their usual territorial jurisdiction regardless of where the solicitor or conspirator is located.

Sovereign states have only the jurisdictional limits they decide to impose on themselves: "Usama Bin Laden" heads the list of most wanted terrorists indicted for crimes by the US—I doubt he was in the US for any of them, though.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK
it occurs to neither of you that maybe we couldn't do this legally in the EU without changing local law

It doesn't occur to me since it is false; the relevant EU laws generally have national security exceptions which could be invoked if we worked through the relevant national security and law enforcement agencies.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

the problem is, once this is published and a hue and cry is raised in those countries by opposition parties, etc....then the program might be fucked.

Then perhaps Bush shouldn't have been giving speeches about it for the past few years.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79: I think what the NYT did is reprehensible.

Then you must think what Bush did in November 2001 is reprehensible.

Nathan: . . . considering that almost no one outside of the financial industry was aware of SWIFT and that very few people within the industry were aware of the extent of the SWIFT database, the Times' publication of explicit details is what is troubling.

A self-serving conclusion.

Typical of a lemming.

BTW, considering no one outside the intelligence community and cleared government officials was aware of Plame's real job . . .

This isn't even remotely analogous to disclosing the name of a human asset and your attempt to so analogize is proof of your pathetic partisan devotion to Bush.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely/cyntax:
it occurs to neither of you that maybe we couldn't do this legally in the EU without changing local law (try doing that in a bunch of different jurisdictions and without giving away what we're doing).
thus, we did it with the tacit acceptance of local governments, so long as it wasn't public.
deniability you know.

It occurs to me that since the administration unnecessarily tries to circumvent legal process here, that it would try to do it elsewhere.

Your assumption seems to be (against prior evidence) that the administration exhausted all proper channels prior to implementing the extra-legal fix.

I think they went off and shoot the US in our collective foot, again.

Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

Under what theory are the Central Banks not the relevant regulatory authority for a clearing centre to report to?

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 3:11 PM | PERMALINK

espionage?

someone should tell SWIFT that they're a secret orginaization.

Posted by: cleek on June 28, 2006 at 3:16 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, this goes for you too:

by your logic, the fact that Tenet said we were trying to "penetrate al quaeda" makes it acceptable to publish the name of an individual actually doing so.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely:

for a quick education in the jurisdictional issues at play here:

you might want to read the France/neonazi/Yahoo case.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian Holsclaw, here's the bit from the Crooked Timber article that claims the member states weren't involved, but really, if you haven't read the article yet, it's complicated enough that pulling excerpts doesn't give you an complete picture:

    In contrast to the airline passenger data issue, the SWIFT financial information transfers didnt happen with any official sanction from the member states. While the issues involved touch on national security, SWIFT wasnt cooperating with the relevant authorities on national security issues (the member states). Instead, it was more or less unilaterally deciding to cooperate with an authority outside the EU - the US Treasury (and through Treasury, the CIA etc).
Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: I provided the link to that UN report yesterday.

I gave no link to a UN report.

It was to a White House press release.

The data does not allow the government to track routine financial activity, like A.T.M. withdrawals, confined to this country, or to see bank balances, Treasury officials said. And the information is not provided in real time Swift generally turns it over several weeks later.

And maybe this is a deliberate leak in order to feed false information to the terrorists about what we can't track so they will be trapped in to using means which we really can't track - in which case the Times did the exact bidding of the administration and contributed to national security, not hurt it.

The bottom line is lemmings like Nathan don't have a clue as to what the fallout of these revelations are. History will be the judge of the Times' actions and we will need to wait at least 20-50 years before we can judge whether their actions were heroic or treasonous - the same standard lemmings demand for judging Bush's actions in Iraq.

I just love it when a conservative meme gets turned back on them.

:-)

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Advocate for God:

if you could read you may have noticed Dave's name in there.

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

by your logic, the fact that Tenet said we were trying to "penetrate al quaeda" makes it acceptable to publish the name of an individual actually doing so.

*sigh* No. I'd ask you to think about your false analogy for a bit, in the hopes that the gap in your reasoning would suddenly become apparent, but I know that logic isn't exactly your strongest suit...

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, being in Finance, I have to say that everyone has assumed that the American government was monitoring SWIFT regardless.

Statements like this:
Craigie-- Hardly. What this means is that terrorists will now use things like cashier checks, which will be converted to cash at the target, and be untraceable from that point forward. It will be more inconvenient to the terrorists, but it will mean that instead of being able to track them, now we won't. Thanks a lot, New York Times.
are childishly stupid.

Unless the "terrorists" and criminals were astoundingly stupid ignorant gits (in which case you can count that in six months time the knowledge of this will have evaporated), they will have assumed, like all of us in the financial sector have, that US Gov is tapping the standard interbank transfer facilities.

Indeed as someone responding to my own note on this said, the sudden excitement on the part of US authorities c. 2002 about hawala and other informal money transfer means was a fairly obvious sign (even leaving aside the cite supra).

Really, all the noise about this program on the side of the US whankers Left and Right is pure and shallow politics.

On the EU side, well....

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

Further to the subject:

Sebastian has this right:
I don't understand the point of this objection. Treasury departments typically handle the investigations with respect to money. That is one of the things they do. Informing them is fine. And if for some reason that would be insufficient, they could inform members of their own justice departments. Is any serious person pretending that the EU member countries were in the dark about it?

Typically the Central Banks and/or Treasuries, depending on the jurisdictions, have jurisdiction over financial crime and security issues, and I can assure readers that given GAFI recs, both have staffing charged with alerting other authorities of issues.

I actually found it quite amusing that the Belgians pretended some ignorance. It is merely for show.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, those naughty naughty people in the Bush White House. From DefenseTech.Org, a site that counts many military readers and contributors:

=== Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, many journalists including this one were briefed by U.S. Customs officials on Operation Green Quest, an effort to roll up terrorist financiers by monitoring, among other things, "suspicious" bank transfers and ancient money lending programs favored by people of Middle Eastern descent.

I interviewed Marcy Forman, director of Green Quest, at her Washington offices in December 2001, when I was a writer for Government Executive magazine. Our meeting was sanctioned by Customs' public affairs office, and came at a time when the White House was eager to talk about all the work federal agencies were doing to hunt down terrorists. Forman told me the kinds of people, transactions, even locations that the government was targeting. (These are details, it should be noted, that the recent Times piece did not reveal.) ===

Posted by: Cranky Observer on June 28, 2006 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

The best argument for running your ongoing operation legally is that when it's found out, it won't be rolled up by the law. It's administration incompetence or unwillingness to obey the law that will destroy this or other spying programs, or result in the release of terrorists because illegal detainment, searching or torture.

Posted by: Boronx on June 28, 2006 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan:

surely you see the difference between generalities ("following the money") and specifics ("there is this really cool database called SWIFT and here's what it contains and here's what we got")

Posted by: Nathan on June 28, 2006 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Re Boronx's comment, well, while no fan of the current American administration, with respect to this program I would rather suspect that regardless of legality it's the sort of thing that is embarassing with revealed. Thus the EU and Belgian authorities awkward Claude Raines "I'm shocked" public reaction.

Legality is not proof against politics, which is rather evident in the absurd and over-heated reactions by both Right and Left in the US of A.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

there is this really cool database called SWIFT

SWIFT is not a database. SWIFT is an organization of financial institutions.

Posted by: cleek on June 28, 2006 at 4:00 PM | PERMALINK

Nathan: . . . if you could read you may have noticed Dave's name in there.

I did.

Don't "talk" to two people at the same time if you are addressing different subjects with each.

Nathan: surely you see the difference between generalities ("following the money") and specifics ("there is this really cool database called SWIFT and here's what it contains and here's what we got")

Surely you see that "specifics" are irrelevant in this case, since the terrorists are perfectly familiar with the kinds of information financial isntitutions keep track of and thus the information that the US government would have access to.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

More accurately, SWIFT is a mutually organised payments systems operator providing standardised wire and related clearance and payments services and standards provider.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

surely you see the difference between generalities ("following the money") and specifics ("there is this really cool database called SWIFT and here's what it contains and here's what we got")

Yes, but identifying a consortium such as SWIFT, which is known in the financial community and which has been mentioned in print and online numerous times, is not the same thing as identifying a specific covert agent. Surely you see the difference between generalities ("we're asking SWIFT to pass us information") and specifics ("we're tracking transfers from Osama bin Laden's Citibank account no. 34576").

The fact is, there were no "specifics" in the news reports about this. Every international level terrorist -- and every international level money launderer, drug smuggler, arms dealer and all around criminal -- knows that the US has the ability and inclination to dip into every worldwide financial database and takes that into account already.

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

Regarding this:
since the terrorists are perfectly familiar with the kinds of information financial isntitutions keep track of and thus the information that the US government would have access to.

I am not sure this is perfectly true, but certainly any competent money launderer at the service of "non-legal groups" is familiar.

Given the US is heavily and very publicly pressurising various financial institutions in the developing markets to collect and report certain kinds of information for all money transfers, let me again take the opportunity to assure readers that only the very most dim-witted wanna-be clowns would not presume American authorities are already getting the same from developed markets by one means or another.

Of course one could argue it is helpful to catch dim-wits, but I rather suspect one catches them anyway.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

From Cranky Observer's cite: "Forman told me the kinds of people, transactions, even locations that the government was targeting. (These are details, it should be noted, that the recent Times piece did not reveal.)"

Precisely. I mentioned this in a thread yesterday, but it needs to be said again - especially to those who, like sportsfan079 and others, who think the Times has done something really awful here. (By the way, where is the condemnation of the Wall Street Journal for its story?)

Nothing is revealed here that compromises national security. Saying you're tracking international transactions of all kinds is so unspecific that it has no impact. Even saying which kinds of transactions -- e.g., wire transfers -- are being tracked is too unspecific to compromise anything.

Imagine that a newspaper had "revealed" that the U.S. was "searching for terrorists" in eastern Afghanistan. Now imagine someone getting mad because the newspaper had "compromised national security" by (a) revealing the existence of this program and (b) even worse, saying exactly where they were looking. You'd hoot that person down as a preposterous fool.

But that's what happening here. This story is only a story because of SWIFT's involvement - not because of some *big revelation* that the U.S. is tracking financial transactions. I mean, who didn't know that?

As I said yesterday, the Times story does not reveal any specifics - any criteria - of how and why transactions are tracked. What are the search criteria? How do they winnow down the millions of transactions to a manageable bunch? If the story told us that, there might be some question of national-security compromise - because terrorist financiers would then have a better idea of what to avoid. But it doesn't do that. The quote from Cranky, though, appears to show a person who did provide those kinds of details.

Posted by: Alek Hidell on June 28, 2006 at 4:20 PM | PERMALINK

almost no one outside of the financial industry was aware of SWIFT

So anyone making an international money transfer is in the 'financial industry' now? Dear me.
You know when you make a bank-to-bank transfer in the US and you're asked for a routing number? If you do it with a non-US bank, guess what you're asked for?

No?

It's called a 'SWIFT ID'.

Posted by: ahem on June 28, 2006 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see:

On the one hand my odds (and those of people I know and love) of dying in a terrorist attack are higher.
On the other hand, it violated the law of another effin' country??!??
On the third hand (Are you making fun of the Chinese baby born with three arms here or what?) the Times list of excuses reasons for running the story were self-serving and vapid.

Hmmm...

Which way do I lean on this one?

(excuses is meant to be struck through but I'm not sure the HTML will work on this comments section)

Posted by: Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK
for a quick education in the jurisdictional issues at play here:

you might want to read the France/neonazi/Yahoo case.

If you want to argue that it has something relevant to say, you might want to, you know, say what it has to say. Or at least provide a relevant citation or link which illustrates its relevance.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK
On the one hand my odds (and those of people I know and love) of dying in a terrorist attack are higher. On the other hand, it violated the law of another effin' country??!??

Shouldn't those be on the same hand, since inasmuch as the former might end up being true, its a direct result of the latter?

Posted by: cmdicely on June 28, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Random Stupidity Watch:

I refer you to the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States. Read it. - Stephan

Reason this is stupid: The First Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill or Rights wasn't amended. The Constitution was amended.

Posted by: Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

or --> of

There goes my poor typing.
On display yet again.

Posted by: Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

cleek on Nathan: SWIFT is not a database. SWIFT is an organization of financial institutions.

So, even though Nathan doesn't really understand the nature of the issue or the data he's opining on, he's just sure that it's crucial in the global whine on terror, that providing information on it will undermine that whine, and that the Times is guilty of treason with respect to the administration's whine on terror.

Well, it's not as if the administration has manipulated the terror alert system for partisan purposes, grossly exaggerated the threat from some so-called terrorists whose sole link to terrorism were vague statements and a visit to Chicago (nobody ever visits Chicago), lied about the intelligence on Iraq, lied about their own dismissal of intelligence pertaining to 9/11, demagogued the hell out of the terror issue, oversold the nature and usefulness of the information they are collecting, wasted time arresting hundreds of innocent people, lied about the scope and nature of their domestic spying activities, been incompetent at evaluating the intelligence they have collected . . .

Oh, wait, they have.

Nevermind.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

Yeah let's see, on the one hand the NYTimes can allow their petulant hatred of GWB blind them to the consequenses of freeing up terrorists financing, on the other hand maybe America deserves another 911 financed by these crackpots to punish us for voting for Bush. Love your evenhandedness Kev. If you think there is any justification for blowing this program and setting loose the EU's equivalent of the ACLU on a jihad to cripple America, I have a hard time seeing the difference between your brand of liberalism and Lynn Stewart's.

Posted by: miniion of rove on June 28, 2006 at 5:10 PM | PERMALINK

Good to know Jerkel is here to cry that the NYtimes will kill his family. And that's supposed to be a bad thing?

Your odds of dying in a blimp accident are greater that a terrorist attack, Jerkel, but the Bush Administration thanks you for your bed wetting.

Be afraid.

Posted by: No love for Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

"Unless the "terrorists" and criminals were astoundingly stupid ignorant gits (in which case you can count that in six months time the knowledge of this will have evaporated), they will have assumed, like all of us in the financial sector have, that US Gov is tapping the standard interbank transfer facilities."

You might think that but clearly you would be wrong since it contributed to the arrest of Hambali (2003) and contributed to the investigation of the London bombings (2005).

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 5:31 PM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the knee-jerk support on this blog for actually HELPING terrorists! What's next - a published guide for terrorists on how to keep their safehouse "safe" - I thought we were all Americans? Let's see how this all sorts out, but if there was treason involved, I want heads to roll and I am not alone in that sentiment. Maybe Ann Coulter was right.

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

No love?

Using my handle is the blog equivalent of the sincerest form of flattery.

I'll settle for flattery.

As for wishing me and my family dead... Be careful. We believe in each of the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights. Even the second one.

Posted by: Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK

Doug: I can't believe the knee-jerk support on this blog for actually HELPING terrorists!

It's not knee-jerk support for terrorism, it's just that our memories are long enough to recall that the White house has been talking about cracking down on terrorist finances for some time:

    THE PRESIDENT: The United States is pressing the war against terror on every front. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the bank accounts of terrorist organizations. The first strike in the war against terror targeted the terrorists' financial support...We are setting down two major elements of the terrorists international financial network, both at home and abroad. Ours is not a war just of soldiers and aircraft. It's a war fought with diplomacy, by the investigations of law enforcement, by gathering intelligence and by cutting off the terrorists' money.

So Doug, what exactly are you objecting to? That the NYT did a piece which backs up President Bush's assertion from November 2001 about going after terrorist finances?

Or are you unhappy that the administration left this program in extra-legal state for the last five years, so that it could become a poitical football if anyone ever found about it?

Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry to Kevin, and to Crooked Timber, but no European laws appear to have been broken. Belgium washes its hands, European Union says EU law does not cover the case ...

"Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt asked the state security service, the central bank and a financial investigation unit to study the affair.

"According to the first analysis of these reports, it appears that the data provided by SWIFT in response to subpoenas from the U.S. Treasury Department were records updated by SWIFT in the normal course of the activities of its American subsidiary and were transferred to the U.S. government by that subsidiary," a statement from Verhofstadt's office said.

The European Commission said on Monday that EU law did not appear to cover the case, which was a matter for national laws if it involved actions by companies in the European Union.

However, a Commission spokesman said that U.S. subsidiaries of European companies were obliged to abide by U.S. law."

Posted by: SunBeltJerry on June 28, 2006 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Oh no, Birkel has a GUN and that makes him feel very MANLY. He may even use it to defend his pathetic whitebread existance in the suburbs!


But but but but, them thar tarrists is a comin, ma!
Them thar new york times done given th' enemy all our plans, oh no!

Stay scared, Jirkel, the government appreciates your cowering at shadows.

Posted by: No love for Birkel on June 28, 2006 at 6:11 PM | PERMALINK

Birkel: On the one hand my odds (and those of people I know and love) of dying in a terrorist attack are higher.

Based on what?

The unsupported claims of an administration that has repeatedly lied about such things and exaggerated non-existent threats or threats so far from actual as to be nearly non-existent, such as Saddam and the so-called "threat" against the Sears Tower (no plan, no weapons, no diagrams, no maps, just talk)?

You odds of dying in a terrorist attack are exponentially higher due to the failings of the Bush administration and its diversion of terrorist-fighting resources to Iraq, tax cuts, and corruption than they are due to the Times' story.

Your claim is a hoot, though.

Thanks for the laugh!

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 28, 2006 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

After all this time and no Osama, I just wish Bush would extend his efforts toward an attempt to get osama, not a US newspaper. I think he needs to get a grip on some sort of definition as to who the real enemies are here. It would seem Coulter does as well. If awol spent 10% as much time on osama as this other bullshit then maybe we could have real results by now.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 6:17 PM | PERMALINK

me: I refer you to the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights to the Constitution of the United States. Read it. - Stephan

Birkel: Reason this is stupid: The First Amendment is part of the Bill of Rights. The Bill or Rights wasn't amended. The Constitution was amended.

I'll admit Birkel is absolutely right. I should have written "First Amendment of the Bill of Rights" rather than "to." Touche.

Though he still can't spell my name right....

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 6:24 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax:

FDR also stated we would liberate France from the Nazis during World War II. If the New York Times had published the operational details prior to D-Day, however, I hope you would have shown SOME concern (probably so, since that would be a Democrat in the Oval Office).

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

Where's osama:

Here's what Ms. Coulter said: "My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building (after everyone had left the building except the editors and reporters)." If this latest is treason, I have to finally agree with her.

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 6:33 PM | PERMALINK

Some posts don't even really deserve an intelligent response. They are better just to stand there while one can consider how totally bizarre they really are. D-day.......hmmm.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 6:36 PM | PERMALINK

Doug, if you have that much hate then you really should get back on your meds, see a doctor, and stop playing with guns. Plus your anger is mis-directed. Which allows you to be used so very easily. Pavlov's dog. Look, over there, Clinton's penis.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Someone should really start collecting some of these lunatic troll responses. If only so our descendants can know just how crazy it got here for a while...

Posted by: Stefan on June 28, 2006 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK
I can't believe the knee-jerk support on this blog for actually HELPING terrorists!Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 5:42 PM
You fail to understand that terrorism, bin Laden and al Qa'ida are Bush's best friends. No one has done more to inflate the ranks of "terrorists" than George W. Bush. No one has done more to damage America's standing in the fight against terrorism than George W. Bush. That is why Bush let Osama slip away and why Osama wanted Bush reelected
You might think that but clearly you would be wrong since it contributed Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 5:31 PM
While both assertions are doubtful, only a fool would give up his Constitutional protections against a rogue government for supposed security when it is to the benefit of that government's power to keep its citizenry in a state of fear.

We believe in each of the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights. Even the second one.
Posted by: Birkel

No, you don't. Republicans don't believe in the Bill of Rights nor do they understand the Second.

Posted by: Mike on June 28, 2006 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

That's right, Mike, and you go on thinking there were no Jews in the World Trade Center either. I think I was very clear above about waiting to see how this all sorts out, but IF there was treason involved, I want heads to roll and I am not alone in that sentiment.

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 6:48 PM | PERMALINK

Doug: If the New York Times had published the operational details prior to D-Day, however, I hope you would have shown SOME concern (probably so, since that would be a Democrat in the Oval Office).

Show me where operational details (and by this I assume you mean details that would help the terroroists evade detection) were disclosed.

The monitoring of financial transactions may be news to the public at large, but that does not mean that it is any substantive way secret. Here's a link to some pertinent reading material, among other things you'll find that an MIT paper was written on the efficacy of monitoring SWIFT transactions back in 1995 and you'll also find a link to a UN report (still available on the web) that mentions:

    "The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries.

From what I can see, nothing was disclosed that was not already available to whomever would have been interested in finding it. Show me the treason. Instead of buying into the right-wing "thinking" of demagouges like Ann Coulter, think for yourself.


Posted by: cyntax on June 28, 2006 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

"While both assertions are doubtful, only a fool would give up his Constitutional protections against a rogue government for supposed security when it is to the benefit of that government's power to keep its citizenry in a state of fear."

Which Constitutional protections do you believe the Swift program violated? The NYT hasn't identified any.

Posted by: Sebastian Holsclaw on June 28, 2006 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian -

The program's successes are proof that it is useful, not that it was a secret. The only alternative to moving money electronically, and thereby risking detection, is using cash (less convenient and carries risk of robbery).

As for the Constitutional protections, the one that seems to apply would be the Fourth Amendment. While no violation is (or can be) alleged, it does argue for Congressional/Judicial oversight of the program. Not just a contracted accounting firm.

Posted by: lowellfield on June 28, 2006 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

Sebastian:

You might think that but clearly you would be wrong since it contributed to the arrest of Hambali (2003) and contributed to the investigation of the London bombings (2005).

Did it? SWIFT data? I should very much doubt it.

Not for the London chaps, except in terms of retrospective piecing together of the story. Small scale xfers are simply buried in the data, mate. Of course the non-real time monitoring would seem to be for having an ability to dig back from other data.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 8:29 PM | PERMALINK

Re this:
The only alternative to moving money electronically, and thereby risking detection, is using cash (less convenient and carries risk of robbery).

No. No. There are alternatives to moving money by cash, and even with electronic transfers one can mask activity, chunking, never mind postal orders and the like.

The SWIFT data is certainly useful to American intelligence, but there are many well-established alternatives to the formal banking sector that smugglers, mafias and many others are quite familiar with.

Marry this with the apparent evidence that most terror operations have used trivial amounts of money and one has a better sense of the bounds to which the data serve interests.

However, I rather suspect that one can safely predict that ill-informed whankers on Left and Right will gleefully ignore a rational look at the situ so as to better screech on about their sacred cows.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 8:34 PM | PERMALINK

I should add, by the way, that the usage asserted supra by Sebastian re wires and contribution to whatever cases merely underlines that whatever the knowledge - I work in Mid East finance and I assure you I regularly hear much wilder and serious claims about what American authorities are spying on from people in sector - convenience will also trump other factors as human laziness is something one can generally count on.

Now, as having some acquiantance with payment systems, it strikes me what would be damaging would be a revelation of specifics with respect to what data mining techniques American authorities are using, reference to perhaps specific approaches in filtering and the like. That would permit the clever launder or terror financier to better chunk his transfers. Also specificity on what data SWIFT is retaining from various jurisdictions, so as to better identify low compliance money centers.

Those are damaging.

The mere fact the US is data gathering, like I said supra and here, eveyone thought so anyway, and only the truly clueless git would assume his transfers were not being monitored (esp given very public American pressure on emerging markets financial authorities and institutions to expand data collection and tracking, and the sudden emergence of US official concern about various laundering and informal money transfer techniques).

Again, contra Sebastian, there is nothing here really to be objectively mad at the poor NYTimes about.

Of course, neither is there much reason to bleat on about Bush regime fascism or what not....

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 8:47 PM | PERMALINK

Uh, I would be very surprised if the terrorists didn't know about SWIFT. I worked in a bank, and it was no secret. It's been used to track money launderers and the like for a long time. I'm not sure why anyone would assume that terrorists are so stupid that they need the NYTimes to tell them that the same sorts of operations that have been monitored for years are, well, being monitored.

You know, if the terrorists were as stupid as Bush keeps saying they are, you'd think we would have caught them long ago.

They aren't stupid. They, like the drug cartels and the arms dealers, know how they can be tracked. But then, that's not the point. The point is that the administration thinks WE'RE that stupid, and I think maybe they're right. Because all they have to do is huff and puff and talk about some secret tactic that's only secret when a newspaper reports on it (because Bush has bragged about this before), and we'll all fall all over ourselves and kiss our civil liberties goodbye because, hey! Terrorists!

I doubt very seriously, Kevin, that this has done the slightest damage to our ability to get any terrorists, and the fact that the administration never seems to come up with any evidence in that direction only supports that. And you know what? Freedom of the press is more important. It is. Americans have died for that liberty, and it is an insult to them that the president doesn't recognize its importance to our democracy. There will always be thieves and murderers, and we'll always have to deal with them. But I for one think we will deal with them a lot better if we have press freedom-- and if we don't let the administration steal away our privacy and pretend it's "justice".

Posted by: terry on June 28, 2006 at 8:57 PM | PERMALINK

Terry has it precisely right, SWIFT kinds of transactions have been monitered for criminal activity etc. for a good long time now.

Wires are convenient and fast, so yes, they're still used along with other means by dirty money, but launderers of any skill long ago learned techniques to fly under the radar, mask patterns and the like.

As I noted supra, damaging revelations are not the existance of such monitoring, but if revelations included operational detials regarding interesting patterns, types of transactions most closely tracked, what level of specific information SWIFT is retaining, and the like.

These data would be useful to know. Merely that US (and other authorities, as in the very Fin Sec. Crim Units that have been set up, even in emerging markets) is watching, not even news really.

I would disagree, however, on the remainder of the comment aimed at the American administration. However incompetent it has proven in Iraq, for example, does not mean the long-standing apparatus for monitoring fin sec issues is incompetent.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

cyntax and terry:

From the original June 22 New York Times article:

"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 . . . The program, run out of the Central Intelligence Agency and overseen by the Treasury Department, 'has provided us with a unique and powerful window into the operations of terrorist networks . . .' [and, I think putting the whole matter into focus] Dana Perino, deputy White House press secretary, said: 'Since immediately following 9/11, the American government has taken every legal measure to prevent another attack on our country. One of the most important tools in the fight against terror is our ability to choke off funds for the terrorists.' She added: 'We know the terrorists pay attention to our strategy to fight them, and now have another piece of the puzzle of how we are fighting them. We also know they adapt their methods, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

Referring to the disclosure by The New York Times last December of the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program, she said, "The president is concerned that once again The New York Times has chosen to expose a classified program that is working to protect our citizens."

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/23/washington/23intel.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

The article also included more specifics about the program that terrorists may not have known about and even a helpful, terrorist-friendly graphic to identify which specific transactions / institutions are part of SWIFT. I honestly don't know if there has been any "damage to our ability to get any terrorists", but then again, that's the same boat we civilians are in as to the disclosure about Valerie Plame. So, why the double standard?

As for the "Freedom of the Press" that does not include the right to shout fire in a crowded theatre, and it does not include treason. As I said, let's see how this all sorts out, but if there was indeed treason involved, I want heads to roll and I am not alone in that sentiment. At least I'm consistent.

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

MAte, listen, I work in finance. Internationally.

That "graphic" is ... not fucking news. Bloody hell get some bloody perspective, it's a bloody graphic illustrating generic payment system / SWIFT structure.

No goddamned money launderer this side of the bloody 20th century is going to find any of the info in that bleeding article "news." It's only "news" to someone who knows fuck-all about money transfers.

Given in MENA we have massive use of wires (guest workers in Gulf, Europe) as well as informal and black-market means, I can fucking assure you that your parochial "terrorist friendly graphic" is so bloody elementary school that only a semi-literate idiot of a git would find it particularly informative (or Americans who rarely use these finds of systems, insofar as your domestic usage is rather different than customary recourse outside of your fine country).

Bloody whankers the lot of you whinging ill-informed gits.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 9:19 PM | PERMALINK

Nice to meet you too, mate. If it's no "secret" or even "news" then, why the FRONT PAGE story? As I assumed with Valerie Plame, if the CIA considers something "secret", I will defer to them. Similarly, I am completely satisfied to let the American courts sort out whether there was any treason or not.

Posted by: Doug on June 28, 2006 at 9:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I don't bloody know you stupid git. Perhaps because in the US of A ordinary citizens know fuck all about wires?

Because it has political spin and a newspaper knows what sells?

US intel services may well consider certain programs secret, the mere revelation, for example, that the CIA has agents inside Embassies isn't news.

That is the order of info conveyed.

You can stop wetting your pants, and be assured that no treason has occured in the wildest of imaginations. Not with the information conveyed (terrorist friendly graphic.... good fucking lord, wait until you see them bleeding terror friendly graphics the SWIFT people themselves put out on how their systems work.)

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 28, 2006 at 9:31 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin writes: does this mean the Times shouldn't have published this story? The arguments cut both ways. On the one hand, it looks like it might have done real damage to an important anti-terrorism program. On the other hand,

On the other hand?

On the other hand?

On the other hand?

Kevin, you are a moron. If you ever truly wonder why the Democrats are shut out of power in these United States ...

You really are a moron.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on June 28, 2006 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

Norman, shouldn't you be out on a ledge somewhere?

Posted by: Where's osama on June 28, 2006 at 11:45 PM | PERMALINK

A free country is dependent on a free press. Either mhr doesn't understand this or hates freedom. In the USSR the government controlled the press, maybe mhr prefers that setup.

Posted by: Where's osama on June 29, 2006 at 12:12 AM | PERMALINK

mhr --
as an American, you're better off sticking to English. "voila" has a grave accent, not acute.

And I missed World Wars 3-10. Where was I?

The rest of what you had to say made about as much sense.

Posted by: notthere on June 29, 2006 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

If it's no "secret" or even "news" then, why the FRONT PAGE story?

Well, it seems to be news to Republican trolls. Perhaps the Times and the Wall Street Journal were just trying to educate them?

Posted by: Stefan on June 29, 2006 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

Doug: I honestly don't know if there has been any "damage to our ability to get any terrorists", but then again, that's the same boat we civilians are in as to the disclosure about Valerie Plame. So, why the double standard?

The disclosure in the Plame case was done for partisan political purposes by government agents intent on destroying any incentive for disagreement with the administration or the reporting of governmental misconduct, not for the purposes of public oversight of governmental activities or to protect the public interest.

Additionally, the Plame disclosure potentially put at direct risk the lives of human intelligence assests - it essentially told the world, including terrorists, that anyone with close dealings with Plame may have been giving Plame intelligence on terrorist or other foreign agent activities.

At most, the disclosure by the Times revealed information already known or suspected and providing no information that was useful to terrorists, but even if it potentially could be information that was useful, the very, very speculative results of that cannot be linked to a specific identifiable threat to any specific human beings.

In order for some harm to come from the disclosure, one must first prove that the information released was accurate and not a planned leak by the Bush administration, that it was not well-known, then that this information would be useful to terrorists, then further that disclosure of the information to terrorists was actually likely to result in an increased risk of an attack that could not be prevented by other means, etc, etc, etc.

Given the Bush administration's track record in routinely lying about or exaggerating the actual danger from threats they have described to the public, it is highly unlikely that there is any real threat of any kind from these disclosures.

The real question is why you don't recognize the difference in the two instances.

Posted by: Advocate for God on June 29, 2006 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

mhr: Anyone who owns a printing press can set up a newspaper and voil, he is protected by the first amendment.

Voil? Voil? Listen, Frenchie, everyone in the US, printing press or no, is protected by the First Amendment. Learn our laws or go back to France where you came from....

Posted by: Stefan on June 29, 2006 at 11:33 AM | PERMALINK

Doug (quoting NYT article):

    "One of the most important tools in the fight against terror is our ability to choke off funds for the terrorists.' She added: 'We know the terrorists pay attention to our strategy to fight them, and now have another piece of the puzzle of how we are fighting them. We also know they adapt their methods, which increases the challenge to our intelligence and law enforcement officials."

For the love of God Doug demonstrate some native intelligence. As I pointed out above the President said we'd try to cut off terrorist finances back in 2001:

    THE PRESIDENT: The United States is pressing the war against terror on every front. From the mountains of Afghanistan to the bank accounts of terrorist organizations. The first strike in the war against terror targeted the terrorists' financial support...We are setting down two major elements of the terrorists international financial network, both at home and abroad. Ours is not a war just of soldiers and aircraft. It's a war fought with diplomacy, by the investigations of law enforcement, by gathering intelligence and by cutting off the terrorists' money.

Compare what the President said in 2001 to the NYT article and explain to me exactly how you, having read the NYT article, now know what to do to avoid detection by the CIA and treasury Department. Perhaps I've over looked it, but I didn't see any discussion in the article of the methodology used by the CIA to sort through the data or any discussion of what sums, frequencies of transfers, origin points, destination points or other criteria were used.

They are using known terrorist names to sort for data. Really? You think? Wow. Total effing revelation. My world has been rocked. If the NYT has posted a list of these names that would have been treasonous. That would be an example of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

Show me the treason.

Posted by: cyntax on June 29, 2006 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Watching The Lounsbury has been an education. I read through the comments and can't figure out why it's worth posting. Everyone just talking past each other, with The Lounsbury in the middle with a flashlight trying to help you poor dumbfucks out.

Well done, Lounsbury.

Posted by: Lovin' The Lounsbury on June 29, 2006 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

You guys are overlooking how forgetful terrorists are, and that they probably forgot the UN report until the NYT reminded them.

Posted by: Alan in SF on June 29, 2006 at 1:00 PM | PERMALINK

Theatre.

Well, time spent was better than reading ECB papers.

Posted by: The Lounsbury on June 29, 2006 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK


birkel: odds (and those of people I know and love) of dying in a terrorist attack are higher.

your chances are 1 in 7 of dying of cancer...

1 in 100 of dying in a car crash...

1 in 245 of dying from a fall...

and of dying in a terrorist attack?


1 in 88,000

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