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June 29, 2006
Canada Balks At Swift Program

The backlash from the Times continues today, this time in Ottawa. Canadian politicians have expressed concern over the use of SWIFT data to track terrorist financing, giving the floundering Liberals an issue to exploit against the ascendant Conservatives:

Bank of Canada governor David Dodge knew in 2002 that the U.S. government wanted data from an international banking organization for use in its war on terror. ... Like other central bankers around the world, Dodge does not appear to have raised any red flags in the past four years.

John McCallum, finance critic for the federal Liberals, said Canadians should be worried if personal information was sent to the CIA.

It would fly in the face of Canadian law and banking practice, said McCallum, a senior executive with Royal Bank of Canada before joining former prime minister Paul Martin's cabinet as minister and secretary of state for financial institutions. ...

No one involved with the Canadian banking system, SWIFT or the U.S. government will say what Canadian financial data, if any, might have been seen by U.S. authorities, but Canada's privacy commissioner is looking into the program.

This should put to rest the argument that "everyone knew we were tracking financial data" as an excuse for the actions of the New York Times. Of course everyone knew we tracked financial transactions in our efforts to defeat terrorism; we've talked about that from the start of the war. George Bush made that point in his September 20 speech. What the terrorists did not know -- and what the Times revealed -- were the specific tactics involved.

Now that this has been revealed, we have embarrassed our allies and put them in politically vulnerable positions. The head of the Canadian banking system had full knowledge of our program, and he knew better than to talk about it. Now that the Times has blown the program and his involvement in it, he may well get removed from his position. At the least, he will be forced to make a number of explanations about his cooperation with our efforts, and likely the Commons will want to know specifics about the kind of data released -- which will give the terrorists an even clearer picture of our covert tactics against them.

How many more nations will follow Canada's lead? Belgium has already announced an investigation into SWIFT and its managers for their participation. The nations who provided us with cooperation in our efforts to fight terrorism have found embarrassment, criminal investigation, and potential career catastrophes as a result of their assistance to the US.

How many people will want to help us now? How many financial managers will agree to help us track terrorists through global banking systems now that we have shown ourselves so inept at keeping secrets? For that matter, this incident will reflect on our intel services across all units -- and it will act as a powerful disincentive for individuals and nations to give us any cooperation or assistance in any future program that protects our national security.

This is the damage that the New York Times has wrought on our nation. Bill Keller and his ace reporters have done much more than kneecap our ability to find terrorists through their financial transactions. They have discredited American intelligence services, aided by a handful of criminals who violated their security clearances to have our covert tactics blabbed to the world by the Times. This is what happens when unelected, benighted, arrogant fools decide that they have the right to determine what classified information should be publicized, with the motivation of profit over national interest.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 29, 2006 8:48 AM

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» The NYTimes damage spreads... from Rusted Sky
Okay, can we call this 'treason' yet, or is it simply an application of the Law of Unintended Consequences? Over at Captain's Quarters, it's revealed that the NYTimes has caused Canadian politicians to question the financial ministry.Of course everyone... [Read More]

Tracked on June 29, 2006 9:49 AM

» Excuses, Excuses from Hard Starboard
Wanna bet? And even if Keller had been right about foreign bankers not bailing on Swift, that doesn't change the fact that he exposed the finest details of the program to our enemies, telling them how to adjust their financing apparatuses to evade ou... [Read More]

Tracked on July 2, 2006 1:16 AM


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