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Journalists Expose a Terrorist Finance Tracking Program

By May 21, 2006

Against the Treasury Department’s wishes, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal report on the government’s secret financial monitoring program, which began shortly after the September 11 attacks. This program used the government’s broad subpoena power to obtain the financial records from Swift, a corporation based in Belgium that facilitates communication between financial institutions across the world.

In response to backlash for publishing the information, New York Times executive editor Bill Keller pens an open letter, which states:

Editors start from the premise that citizens can be entrusted with unpleasant and complicated news, and that the more they know the better they will be able to make their views known to their elected officials. Our default position — our job — is to publish information if we are convinced it is fair and accurate, and our biggest failures have generally been when we failed to dig deep enough or to report fully enough.