Saturday, June 24, 2006

Dots that need connecting?

This week sees the latest, but certainly not greatest, revelation regarding the Bush Administration’s abuse of power – its intrusion into SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a Belgium-based financial cooperative. With the New York Times in the lead, the Los Angeles Times a close second, and the Wall Street Journal following-up ($), we learn that:

The program, however, is a significant departure from typical practice in how the government acquires Americans' financial records. Treasury officials did not seek individual court-approved warrants or subpoenas to examine specific transactions, instead relying on broad administrative subpoenas for millions of records from the cooperative, known as Swift.

That access to large amounts of sensitive data was highly unusual, several officials said, and stirred concerns inside the administration about legal and privacy issues.

That concern for “legal and privacy issues" prompted the ACLU to issue its own take on this “further abuse of power” while Captain’s Quarters noted and commented on how quickly these ever-vigilant guardians of freedom for all – including terrorists – had “jumped into the fray.”

Over at the Weekly Standard, Heather Mac Donald justifiably condemns the New York Times for its “guiding philosophy” of ignoring national security when it comes to publishing classified information; while in a companion article Gabriel Schoenfeld presents “The case for prosecuting the New York Times.”

Personally, I’m less concerned about prosecuting the Times than nailing the “Nearly 20 current and former government officials and industry executives (who) discussed aspects of the Swift operation with The New York Times on condition of anonymity because the program remains classified.”

Isn’t that special?

Well, what’s this all about? Is this really a matter of “public interest” as the Times touts as its reason for revealing this “classified” information? Can we be confident that the reasons given are genuine? Or could there be something else here with the public interest being a straw man held up to misdirect our gaze?

Everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, so why not engage in a bit of speculative reasoning? It can be a useful exercise and, after all, who believes everything the Grey Lady says anyway?

Here are some dots:

* The New York Times is in deep doodoo financially. You need look no further than American Thinker to access several articles regarding “Pinch” Sulzberger’s headlong driving of the Grey Lady off the proverbial financial cliff.

* The Saudis have lots of money. Disgustingly, corruptingly insane oodles of the stuff with historically high crude oil prices gifting the Kingdom a financial windfall of epic proportions.

* The Saudis are well-known for their world-wide financing of radical Islamic imams and madrassas for the purpose of promoting Wahhabism, the official Saudi state religion. No secrets here. They just have to have a means of getting all their gigabucks moved around the world and from one financial institution to another.

* The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is the world’s official means of getting gigabucks moved around the world and from one financial institution to another.

* The United States is scrutinizing, as noted above, transactions handled by SWIFT that appear to be connected to or involving terrorists and terrorist organizations – who, one may with reasonable assurance say, are on at least some occasions connected with some of those Saudi sponsored and financed “religious” leaders and schools.

* If the American monitoring of SWIFT is an “inconvenience” for the Saudis, they have one of two choices. First, move money around the world not using SWIFT which seems a non-option considering the current structure of the world’s banking systems. Or, get the Americans off their backs. The only question being how best to do this.

Go ahead and connect the above dots to see what kind of picture emerges.

Just be sure to keep in mind that the Saudis are “our friends” and everything the New York Times publishes is “fit to print.”