Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Crying wolf over leaks

Jack Balkin:
The Bush Administration is quite upset with newspaper reports that it is spying on people's financial records, arguing that revelation of the secret surveillance program undermines our struggle against global terror. In the abstract, at least, the Administration has a point. The difficulty is that the Administration so often leaks sensitive information for political purposes that we can no longer be sure when we should really be concerned. Because the Administration is so transparently political in its behavior, it's hard to take all of its claims of severe damage to our national interests at face value...


Anonymous said...

The other side of this is the administration's penchant for classifying anything and everything that they feel needs to be "protected," often meaning protecting them from embarrassment or indictment. That gives them a treasure trove of material to choose from in their selective leaks.

In any case, what is so classified about this Swift thing? The terrorists know that funds are being traced; the administration has said that often enough. Swift transfers funds. Duh.

Bush invoked "sources and methods." My understanding of that phrase is that it refers to high-tech or ingenious methods that have capabilities not generally known, and people who might be badly damaged if their activities became known. That all makes sense. Will terrorists target Swift? More likely they'll just do their business some other way, as several earlier news stories noted. Duh again.

Bush's objection to the NSA information-vacuuming operations was of the same order: sources and methods. But, again, how stupid would terrorists have to be to assume they weren't being bugged?


C.M. Mayo said...

Ah, the Outrage Du Jour. Would you like that with some freshly ground pepper?

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with CKR. The terrorists were not operating under the assumption that international financial transactions would not be monitored.

This is the outrage du jour. And the fact that the administration decided to get to bellicose about this issue speaks volumes about their desperation. They're really pulling out the stops to rally the base in the face of the upcoming elections.

helmut said...

Yes, it's nonsense. As far as I can tell, the NY Times did not expose anything about secretive technologies. And, as far as I can tell, bank records haven't yielded much in the GWOT especially since it's widely known that Al Qaeda doesn't use banks.