Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Selling the Drama

The latest 'controversy' involving the New York Times is perhaps the silliest on record. This is one of the reasons I think people are cynical about politicians. Republicans plan to take this business to the House floor as of Thursday to create an issue out of a non-issue. I wrote about this once already, but if the Republicans want to keep bringing it up, I guess I'll just have to keep at it.

Luckily, a few folks in the big media also aren't buying into the stomp and stammer.
Not only has this been reported before without such complaints, but the administration itself has often bragged in public about its aggressive probes of terrorist financing.

This is one of the reasons I don't vote Republcian, and it doesn't look like I will any time soon. National Security is not a political plaything, we were fighting terrorism for a long time before ol' Dubya & the Gang showed up, and we have been tracking finances of suspected criminals and terrorists since Capone got sent to Alcatraz.

While the New York Times gets a yellow card for acting like this kind of thing is news (and ignoring other things that actually are), the Republicans get a big, fat red card for making a mountain out of this molehill (when there are really real mountains they should be turing their attention to). But I guess harping on this is just another in a long line of 'issues' designed to rile up the right side of the echo box.


RightOnPeachtree said...

I don't think the actual details of this have been advertised before, have they? Yes they knew we were trying to track down the money trails, but they didn't know exactly how we were doing it.

I heard an analogy today that made sense. This is like speeding. Johnny Law says that they're watching and will catch speeders. But people speed and people get away with it. Speeding still happens. But this is like telling people that Forsyth is a speed trap and that you will get caught if you speed through there. No one will speed through Forsyth anymore. The speed trap that could have and likely did work before definitely won't work now.

Ultimately, though, what I would like to know is whether they have been catching some people with this Swift program. If they have and the NY Times (et al) publicized it, then they have, in all effect, killed that method of tracking terrorist financing (except for the dumbest terrorists who would continue to do it).

Of course, I'm more angry about the leakers. It's a wonder that any other countries would ever tell us anything anymore.

With that being said, I do think that Bush should be more willing to get Congressional oversight (if he isn't doing that). Congress, even if they suck like a Hoover on steroids, still have a constitutional role to play here. Bush shouldn't try to skirt that.

Patrick Armstrong said...

ROP: Actual details on a myriad of investigative tactics are available to anyone with basic cable, internet connectivity or a library card. Luckily, we don't just use one method of tracking finances. The NYT reported on one of the perhaps two or three dozen tecniques law enforcement and intelligence agencies use.

The speeding analogy is an interesting one to use for this particular issue. If speed laws are designed to make travel safer, and speed traps are orchestrated to enforce speed laws, then publicity of speed traps makes people slow down (and, arguably, drive safer). In that instance, the publication of the speed trap did its job: slowing people down on the highway.

If speed traps are orchestrated just to make money off the speeding motorist, then - yeah - you don't want anyone to know where your speed-trap is, so you can issue as many citations as possible.

So I guess if the intention of the program was for the USA to cite and fine terrorists, the revelation of this program would work against us. If the intent of the program is to confuse or deter terrorism, than publicizing it is not only legal, but actually helps us in the war on terror.

RightOnPeachtree said...

Patrick - on the speed trap analogy -- I had a girlfriend in college who was caught speeding in Forsyth...and she knew it was a speed trap. Was she dumb? Far from it. She was very intelligent. However, she was careless and she got caught. After she got caught, though, I learned a lesson from it and never sped through Forsyth anymore. I saw a friend get caught and punished. I have since made sure not to break the law there. And I'm pretty sure that she never made the same mistake again, either.

Similarly, if a terrorist knows about a particular method by which he will almost certainly get caught, it shuts down that method as a tool to use against him. That is all I'm saying. Yes there are other methods. But the NY Times would probably publicize them all if it found out about them.

You know that I don't have any love for BushCo. However, he is an elected official. The NY Times is not. I absolutely do not trust the Times to be the arbiter of what's "in the public interest". They are a treasonous outfit.

To anonymous: You talk about a "free society" -- what rights have you been deprived of? In this story, the NY Times never even intimated that what the government was doing was illegal. They just exposed it. So again, what rights have been taken from you? Unless you have been wiring money to terrorist organizations and you viewed that a right, then I just don't see how you've been violated.

And you think that we live in a totalitarian society? We live in the most free society in the world. That's why we're such a huge target. We allow so much freedom that terrorists can do something similar to what happened on 9/11.

As far as oversight, I agree with you. I fault Congress for not pushing more on this and I fault Bush for not being more forthcoming.

Re: leakers -- The same liberals who were so angry at the NY Times for not coughing up who leaked Valerie Plame's name now think that the these leakers are heroes for "exposing the horrors of what our government is doing". Puh-leeze. How about a little consistency? How about a little intellectual honesty for a change? I thought that Karl Rove should have been punished for leaking (if he did it). And I think Bush was hypocritical to act all offended and then dismiss it when turdblossom was involved. And I AM CONSISTENT HERE. I think this shouldn't have been leaked either.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Oh, I think it is a reasonable analogy.

Everyone I know whose ever gotten a speeding ticket has always gotten (at least) a second speeding ticket. Everyone in South Georgia knows about Lowndes and Laurens counties, but every time I drive through Dublin or Valdosta, there's a Georgia driver or three recieiving their citations.

Look at it this way; the speed trap detered you from speeding through Forsyth. Being wary of moving money through banks may deter some terrorists from staging an attack.

I mean, if, after hearing this, all enemies of America stop using the international banking system, we have actually dealt them a devastating, crippling and strategic blow through pen and ink and press conferences.

Hard cash in quantity is actually far more difficult to move, exchange and keep track of on an international scope. It also wrecks an organization's internal security as they suddenly have to trust underlings with large amounts of currency within easy reach.

Buzzzbee said...

All I'm gonna say is this:

Republicans are perfectly happy to let Karl Rove jump right back into the politics-game on their side even though he was involved in the leak of an undercover CIA agent's name during a time of war. It is not a question of "if" anymore. We know he was involved. Rove told Matthew Cooper of Time Magazine that "Wilson's wife" worked for the CIA. This was before she was publicly outed by Robert Novak.

After the effort by Prominent Republicans to insist that she wasn't a real undercover agent and she wasn't in any real danger, I feel they have forfeited their right to any anger or outrage on this subject or any subject involving a leak of anykind.

They will undoubtedly try to split hairs and create a difference where, really, there isn't one. A perfect example of this comes from Tom Delay on, one of my personal favorite shows, Hardball with Chris Matthews:

DeLay on Hardball on Rove

For the party that popularized the phrase "flip-flop", to try and be on both sides of this issue is in my opinion asking a little much.

Patrick Armstrong said...

On the topic of 'leakers,' I have to say that this Administration has done an awful job of letting information get out.

I'm not sure if every single leak so far hasn't in and of itself been politically motivated for some reason or another.

I mean, if they were really worried about information diffusion, you'd think they would just start making stuff.

That way, when the New York Times published the story about their "plan to use psychic investigators in Afganistan to track OBL," or whatever, they could jettison all the credibility any government leaker had with that paper.

They said they wouldn't feed misinformation to the press, they never said they wouldn't feed misinformation to the staff....