The BBC reports on the undermining of what it refers to as “the ‘so-called war on terror'” in this story which flowed from this one based on a New York Times Pulitzer-hunting, terrorist-helping sellout. [My opinion on the behavior of the NYT.] What the Beeb fails to point out in either online account is both the firm legal ground and the high degree of success of the SWIFT programme.
Here’s a slippery little paragraph used in both online stories to cast doubt on SWIFT’s legal standing without really having any supporting facts for this novel theory.(See SWIFT’s own statement on the story here and Treasury Secretary John Snow’s statement here.)
From the ‘angry Cheney’ piece:
Although there is no direct connection, the scheme has echoes of a recently revealed US surveillance programme in which millions of international and domestic phone calls and e-mails were monitored, correspondents say.
From the “US defends secret money tracking piece”:
Although there is no direct connection, the programme has echoes of a recently revealed US surveillance programme in which millions of international and domestic phone calls and e-mails were monitored, correspondents say.
They say that although the US government insists it acted on a firm legal footing, this programme is likely to elicit similar charges of enfringement of civil liberties.
We are not given the names of these ‘correspondents’. For all we know, they are 16 year-olds on MySpace. What the BBC could have told us, but didn’t, is that this programme successfully brought about the exposure and apprehension of real terrorists who had committed murder and/or were planning further massacres. Who are they? At least the New York Times reported it.
Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said. 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 is, without doubt, a legal and proper use of our authorities,” Stuart Levey, an undersecretary at the Treasury Department, said in an interview Thursday. The program is grounded in part on the president’s emergency economic powers, Mr. Levey said, and multiple safeguards have been imposed to protect against any unwarranted searches of Americans’ records.
Some specifics on those apprehended:
Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.
In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.
The data also helped identify a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges last year, the officials said. The man, Uzair Paracha, who worked at a New York import business, aided a Qaeda operative in Pakistan by agreeing to launder $200,000 through a Karachi bank, prosecutors said.
Heather McDonald reports:
The Wall Street Journal adds that the July 7, 2005, London subway bombings were fruitfully investigated through the Swift initiative and that a facilitator of Iraqi terrorism has been apprehended because of it.
One might think that the UK would be served this bit of information about this matter from its ‘so-called national broadcaster’, but that would be asking a lot.