- The Washington Times - Monday, June 26, 2006


The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee urged the Bush administration yesterday to seek criminal charges against newspapers that reported on a secret financial-monitoring program used to trace terrorists.

Rep. Peter T. King cited the New York Times in particular for publishing a story last week that the Treasury Department was working with the CIA to examine messages within a massive international database of money-transfer records.

Mr. King, New York Republican, said he would write Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales urging that the nation’s chief law enforcer “begin an investigation and prosecution of the New York Times — the reporters, the editors and the publisher.”

“We’re at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous,” Mr. King told the Associated Press.

A message left yesterday with Times spokeswoman Catherine Mathis was not returned, the AP said.

Speaking yesterday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” conservative David Frum called the publication “as big a media scandal as it’s possible to be.”

“How secret was this program? Well, it helped to catch the author of the Bali bombing. It helped to catch a number of other terror suspects. I think it would be hard to come closer to the classic definition of publishing the departure time of a troop ship in war time and inviting the enemy to shoot a torpedo at it than this,” said the National Review Online columnist.

“Here’s a program where there’s no allegation of abuse,” he added. “Here’s something that has caught important terrorists. … Here’s something that will never catch an important terrorist ever again, and it’s all because a newspaper said, ‘We think it’s in the public interest.’”


“Yet again, the New York Times was presented with a simple choice: help protect American national security or help al Qaeda,” Andrew C. McCarthy writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“Yet again, it sided with al Qaeda,” Mr. McCarthy said.

“Once again, members of the American intelligence community had a simple choice: remain faithful to their oath — the solemn promise the nation requires before entrusting them with the secrets on which our safety depends — or violate that oath and place themselves and their subjective notions of propriety above the law.

“Once again, honor was cast aside.

“For the second time in seven months, the Times has exposed classified information about a program aimed at protecting the American people against a repeat of the September 11 attacks. On this occasion, it has company in the effort: The Los Angeles Times runs a similar, sensational story. Together, the newspapers disclose the fact that the United States has covertly developed a capability to monitor the nerve center of the international financial network in order to track the movement of funds between terrorists and their facilitators.

“The effort, which the government calls the ‘Terrorist Finance Tracking Program’ (TFTP), is entirely legal. There are no conceivable constitutional violations involved. …

“Appealing to the patriotism of these newspapers proved about as promising as appealing to the humanity of the terrorists they so insouciantly edify — the same monsters who, as we saw again only a few days ago with the torture-murder of two American soldiers, continue to define depravity down.”

Specter’s efforts

The White House is thinking about allowing a federal court to examine a federal program that monitors phone calls between overseas terror suspects and people in the United States, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday.

Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican, has been pressing the Bush administration to seek clearance from the court set up under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

The act requires warrants from the court for intelligence-related eavesdropping inside the United States, but the administration says the president, under the Constitution, has inherent authority to conduct wiretapping.

“I think there is an inclination [in the White House] to have it submitted to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court, and that would be a big step forward for protection of constitutional rights and liberties,” Mr. Specter said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We’re having a lot of conversations about that. We’re close. I’m not making any predictions until you have it all nailed down,” he added.

‘Under his skin’

Left-wing blogger Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (DailyKos.com) is now an important adviser to Senate Democrats, Jonathan Darman reports in the latest issue of Newsweek.

“Moulitsas … chats with Senate leadership aides several times a week and has brainstormed with Democratic operatives about the fall campaign,” Mr. Darman said.

That influence was reflected in last week’s Senate votes on Democratic proposals to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, according to Newsweek, because “the Democrats’ failed Iraq strategy — stand together, talk tough and make plans to leave — lined up exactly with the prescriptions found on Daily Kos.”

Mr. Moulitsas and Jerome Armstrong, who gained fame as supporters of Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential bid, recently co-authored a book, “Crashing the Gate,” which argues that the so-called “netroots” movement is the key to a liberal resurgence. But now their fellow bloggers are looking askance at the Democratic duo, Mr. Darman reports.

“The talk of the blogosphere last week was ‘Kosola’ — allegations that Moulitsas wrote favorably about candidates with whom he or … Armstrong had financial relationships. Moulitsas swore the charges were baseless (Armstrong, too, has denied impropriety), but they clearly got under his skin. …

“When Kosola broke, Moulitsas e-mailed fellow progressive activists, wondering who might be shopping the story. ‘I’ve gotten reliable tips that [Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s] operation has been digging around my past (something I confronted them about, btw, and never got a denial), and you know the [Sen. Joe Lieberman]/DLC/TNR camp is digging as well,’ he wrote, referring to the centrist Democratic Leadership Council and the New Republic. (Aides to Senators Clinton and Lieberman deny the allegations in the e-mails.)”

Murtha’s remarks

The U.S. presence in Iraq is more dangerous to world peace than nuclear threats from North Korea or Iran, Rep. John P. Murtha told an audience of more than 200 in North Miami on Saturday afternoon.

Mr. Murtha, Pennsylvania Democrat, was the guest speaker at a town-hall meeting organized by Rep. Kendrick B. Meek, Florida Democrat, at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus in Miami. Mr. Meek’s mother, former Rep. Carrie Meek, Florida Democrat, also was on the panel, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports.

Mr. Murtha reiterated his views that the war cannot be won militarily and needs political solutions. He said the more than 100,000 troops in Iraq should be pulled out immediately and deployed to peripheral countries such as Kuwait.

“We do not want permanent bases in Iraq,” Mr. Murtha said. “We want as many Americans out of there as possible.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes.com.

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