Reporter Claims Terror Surveillance Program Unaffected by his Scoop - But His Newspaper Says Different
Justice Department correspondent Eric Lichtblau was interviewed this summer for the Frontline series News War. Lichtblau defended his two notorious stories that leaked the details of a National Security Agency surveillance program that monitored the international communications of people in America suspected of terrorism, as well as a U.S.-instigated international bank surveillance program that had successfully caught potential terrorists. Lichtblau argued that since both programs were "still in existence," there was no harm, no foul.
Frontline: "Do you worry that they'll...show you...that because you revealed this program, they were not able to do something in a terrorism operation, that someone was harmed?
Eric Lichtblau: "Well, I think the counter to that argument is pretty clear, which is that both of these operations are still in existence without any impact on their ability to function. In both cases, we were warned that the plug would be pulled on these programs if they're publicly disclosed. That didn't happen in either case."
Actually, Lichtblau's summer wishful thinking was contradicted this month in his own paper by a Agence France-Presse story that appeared in the February 2 Times: "Bank Group Is Told to Halt Flow of Data to U.S. Officials."
From the lead:
"The European Central Bank must take action by April to stop the transfer of personal information from Swift, the bank-data consortium, to American authorities for use in antiterrorism investigations, a regulatory agency said Thursday.
"The agency, the European Data Protection Supervisor, told the bank to come up with measures 'to make its payment operations fully compliant with data-protection legislation,' urging it to 'take appropriate measures as soon as possible.'
"Swift, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, deals with trillions of dollars in global transactions daily between nearly 8,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries."