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Special Report Continues Unfounded Assault on New York Times

Reported by Janie - June 29, 2006 -

During last night's (6/28) "Special Report with Brit Hume", Hume once again went after the New York Times during his "Two Minutes of Hate" (AKA "Grapevine") segment, for its disclosure that the U.S. government is tracking financial records of terrorists (which Bush has revealed himself on numerous occasions since 9/11). According to Hume, this revelation has now hampered the effort to track terrorist data as a human rights group has challenged the program. Hume, however; didn't let a small thing like facts get in his way of berating the Times.

Once again playing the fear card, Hume had this to say under a banner blaring "Making Fears Come True":

"That New York Times story exposing the Bush administration program to track terror financing has created an outcry among privacy advocates, and could cause some of the administration's worst fears about the revelation to come true.

Liberal human rights group, Privacy International, has filed complaints in 17 countries, urging them to pressure the banking industry partner central to the administration's efforts to obtain terrorist financial records to stop working with the U.S.

Times chief editor Bill Keller dismissed the administration's argument that publishing the story would lead bankers to stop cooperating with terror investigators, calling it 'puzzling.'"

Of course, Hume didn't manage to tell the entire story and makes it appear as though some "liberal" (when did human rights only become a "liberal" cause?) group is attempting to stop the program. According to Privacy International's press release, this is far from the truth.

"This disclosure of data has been undertaken on the grounds of counter-terrorism. The disclosures involve the mass transfer of data from the SWIFT centre in Belgium to the United States, and possibly direct access by US authorities both to data held within Belgium and data residing in SWIFT centres worldwide.

The complaints allege that the activity was undertaken without regard to legal process under Data Protection law, and that the disclosures were made without any legal basis or authority whatever. The scale of the operation, involving millions of records, places this disclosure in the realm of a fishing exercise rather than legally authorised investigation.

The issue was first brought to light on Friday June 23rd 2006, when the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times published details of the private arrangement between SWIFT and the United States Government that involved the covert disclosure to the U.S. of financial data on customers' transactions. Neither the U.S. Government nor SWIFT was prepared to provide details of the extent of the disclosures. However the office of the Belgium Prime Minister confirmed that: 'the cooperative (SWIFT) had received broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records'.

The complaints also expressed concern that this data could be used by U.S. authorities for a range of unrelated activities, even espionage."

Well, maybe Hume is right after all - this is the Administration's worst fear realized: having to follow the law.

Hume left out these incredibly important facts, in attempt to once again smear the New York Times on behalf of an increasingly desperate Bush Administration.