Monday, June 26, 2006

Much Ado

Am I going to end up in the unenviable position of having to defend the New York Times? Not a chance. Apparently, it has been reported in the temple of journalistic know-how, that the US government is 'secretly' tracking the money trails of suspected terrorists.

On the reverse, am I going to end up in the unenviable position of having to defend the Administration? Not a chance. Apparently, the President and the Vice President were very upset that the NYT reported this 'top secret' plan to catch criminals and terrorists by looking at their banking records. Coastal Companion calls it treason. Milipundit at Jack's Blog goes over top secret clearance, and Spokesblogger delivers some of the Vice President's words: that this hurts us in the war against terrorism.

I'm going to file all of this under the "water still wet, sky still blue" file. To everyone involved in this finger pointing: this ain't news. Not even a little bit.

Tracking financial records was investigative policy long before W & the Gang ever showed up on the scene, but the fact that we do it has never been anywhere close to 'top secret' information (so W & the Gang can stop acting like they invented this tactic). Capone, the Klan, Escobar, McVeigh, WTC 1993, Rudolph, the Unabomber, the Jackal - helpful or not, finances were examined in every one of these cases. Hell, read some Tom Clancy, watch some CSI, Law & Order or 24 and tell me that tracking financial records is 'top secret' information. Terrorists don't need to read the NYT to get this information, they need to subscribe to basic cable and get a library card.

More innocuous are the many financial records that fall under investigative scrutiny in the War on Drugs. (C'mon, Times, if y'all wanted to get all outraged, we would have been better served with some outrage back in the 80's.) And we're not even going to get into the invasive financial-records-privacy-rights-shredding-machine that is American divorce law.

You know what would have been a story, to me? (I wrote this over on the Congressman's blog, but I will make mention of it again...) It would have been news to me if we weren't tracking finances. And then, I would have been livid that someone was asleep at the wheel.

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