NYT's Eric Lichtblau: For Terror Surveillance Before He Was Against It

<p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Thanks to Cori Dauber at </font><a href="http://www.rantingprofs.com/rantingprofs/2006/07/what_everyone_k.html" target="_self"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Ranting Profs </font></a><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">, we know that Times intelligence reporter </font><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Eric <b><span style="FONT-WEIGHT: normal; COLOR: #333333; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold">Lichtblau, notorious for co-writing the article revealing the terrorist surveillance program of international banking transactions known as SWIFT, wrote an article last November critical of the administration for -- get this -- lacking a strategy to cut off terrorist funding.</span></b> </font><span style="FONT-WEIGHT: normal; FONT-SIZE: 12pt; mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"><font face="Times New Roman">From <a href="http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F30610FA3F550C7A... target="_self">November </a></font><font face="Times New Roman"><a href="http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F30610FA3F550C7A..., 2005 </a>(Times Select or $ required): “U.S. Lacks Strategy to Curb Terror Funds, Agency Says.” </font></span><font face="Times New Roman"><font size="3"><span style="mso-bidi-font-weight: bold">An excerpt: </span></font></font></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><font face="Times New Roman"><font size="3"><span style="mso-bidi-font-weight: bold"></span></font></font></p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><font face="Times New Roman"><font size="3"><span style="mso-bidi-font-weight: bold">“</span>The government's efforts to help foreign nations cut off the supply of money to terrorists, a critical goal for the Bush administration, have been stymied by infighting among American agencies, leadership problems and insufficient financing, a new Congressional report says. More than four years after the Sept. 11 attacks, ‘the U.S. government lacks an integrated strategy’ to train foreign countries and provide them with technical assistance to shore up their financial and law enforcement systems against terrorist financing, according to the report prepared by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.”</font></font></p></blockquote><p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">More from Lichtblau in November: </font></p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">“The administration has made cutting off money to terrorists one of the main prongs in its attack against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. It has seized tens of millions of dollars in American accounts and assets linked to terrorist groups, prodded other countries to do the same, and is now developing a program to gain access to and track potentially hundreds of millions of international bank transfers into the United States. <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">But experts in the field say the results have been spotty, with few clear dents in Al Qaeda's ability to move money and finance terrorist attacks.</b> The Congressional report-- a follow-up to a 2003 report that offered a similarly bleak assessment -- buttresses those concerns.”</font></p></blockquote><p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">So, seven months after criticizing Bush for failing to track terrorist financing, Lichtblau made it far more difficult to do so with his exposure of the SWIFT terrorist-tracking program. </font></p><p><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Lichtblau covered the same beat as a reporter at the L.A. Times. A story he co-wrote with Josh Meyer on April 7, 2002 made the same arguments, criticizing Bush for allegedly failing to push the same programs Lichtblau exposed to the world in June 2006. </font><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">There’s also this ironic passage: </font></span></p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">“The United States is receiving far less cooperation than it needs from many allied nations, which have pledged to help choke off the terrorist money supply but lack the <b style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal">political will</b>, technical know-how and legal framework to make that happen.”</font></span></p></blockquote><p><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Speaking of sapping “political will,” the initial backlash resulting from Lichtblau’s exposure of SWIFT includes the Belgian prime minister calling for a Justice Ministry investigation into whether the program, which is based in Belgium, violated Belgian law.</font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">Not that Lichtblau was totally morose in his 2002 piece. In fact, he thought financial tracking vital, if extremely difficult in practice: </font></span></p><blockquote dir="ltr" style="MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px"><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">“Everyone agrees that financial investigations are critically important in uncovering, and even thwarting, terrorist activity. Credit card, phone and travel records and other forms of payment can be used to identify those involved in a conspiracy, to establish links between them and other co-conspirators and to gather evidence.”</font></span></p></blockquote><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">The bit about “phone records” is particularly relevant, given that it was Lichtblau who revealed last December the National Security Agency’s monitoring without warrants of international phone calls and emails from and to terrorist suspects. </font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3"></font></span> </p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman" size="3">What would the surveillance-boosting Lichtblau of 2002 thinks of the surveillance-busting Lichtblau of today?</font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman"></font></span></p><p style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"><span style="COLOR: black"><font face="Times New Roman">For more examples of New York Times bias, visit <a href="http://www.timeswatch.org/">TimesWatch</a>.</font></span></p>

Clay Waters
Clay Waters was director of Times Watch, a former project of the Media Research Center . Read more: http://archive.newsbusters.org/bios/clay-waters.html#ixzz3CdgxLFgQ