The New York Times threatens your right to live!

So, perhaps you've heard of the latest government program to track terrorists financial records.  This program sounds like the sort of thing advocated by most anti-terrorism experts and does not seem to be on the same shaky legal ground as the warrantless wiretapping, but again the Bush administration has approached it with extreme secrecy. 

In response to the New York Times revealing this program administration Press Secretary, Tony Snow said, the media “ought to think long and hard about whether a public's right to know in some cases might override somebody's right to live.”  The president and Dick Cheney have referred to the report as “disgraceful” and suggested it is extremely damaging to our efforts to fight terrorism.  Damn free press!  The editor of the Times nicely defends the action and the fundamental importance of a free press here.  The LA Times does a better job here.

Tne New York Times reporters (who live in Washington and New York) have no more interest in being blown up by terrorists than does anybody else.  Rather, the point is that a program like this should not exist solely at the discretion of the executive branch with no oversight.  (Damn checks and balances!)  As a number of counter-terrorism experts I've heard on the matter have made clear it is not like the terrorists woke up on Friday and said, “uh-oh, better watch our financial transactions now!”  Rather, the terrorists are well aware that we are engaging in this type of investigation.  But moving large sums of money around the world leaves them little choice but to use the global financial system we are monitoring and the occassionally and much less convenient suitcase full of cash.  More than anything, it seems that the administration resents the press for trying to keep its actions accountable to the American people and is trying (unsuccessfully) to intimidate the press (i.e., “they are helping the terrorists”) from doing its job.

Nobody wants another terror attack.  We want a government that is honest and open with the American people and where the president does not have the authority of a dictator. 

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