The Times backpedals a bit from its irresponsible story revealing a successful terrorist surveillance program involving international bank transactions. After playing it up as a lead story June 23, nine days later it's shrugged off as common knowledge by the very reported who trumpeted it on the front page.
Based on CNN's rush transcript, here's reporter Eric Lichtblau on CNN’s Reliable Sources from Sunday defending his bank spy scoop (emphasis added):
"I'm not claiming I know the mind of every terrorist, but I am claiming to know exactly what President Bush and his senior aides have said. And when you have senior Treasury Department officials going before Congress, publicly talking about how they are tracing and cutting off money to terrorists, weeks and weeks before our story ran. 'USA Today,' the biggest circulation in the country, the lead story on their front page four days before our story ran was the terrorists know their money is being traced, and they are moving it into -- outside of the banking system into unconventional means. It is by no means a secret."
"There was a significant question as to how secret the program was after five years." – Times Public Editor Barney Calame, July 2.
"Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials." – The lead sentence to the June 23 story by Eric Lichtblau and James Risen uncovering the terrorist spy program, headlined "Bank Data Sifted In Secret By U.S. To Block Terror."
Thanks to Patterico.
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