An extraordinary article from AP detailing how hard the government tried to convince the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times not to publish the story about the money transfer monitoring. You know, the program that by the paper's own admission doesn't break any laws but that has caused terrorists to be arrested and prosecuted. But in the end, the paper's right to expose people to terror attacks far outweighed any paltry concerns.
Administration officials were concerned that news reports of the program would diminish its effectiveness and could harm overall national security.
"It's a tough call; it was not a decision made lightly," said Doyle McManus, the Los Angeles Times' Washington bureau chief. "The key issue here is whether the government has shown that there are adequate safeguards in these programs to give American citizens confidence that information that should remain private is being protected."
Treasury Department officials spent 90 minutes Thursday meeting with the newspaper's reporters, stressing the legality of the program and urging the paper to not publish a story on the program, McManus said in a telephone interview.
"They were quite vigorous, they were quite energetic. They made a very strong case," he said.
In its story, The New York Times said it carefully weighed the administration's arguments for withholding the information and gave them "the most serious and respectful consideration."
"We remain convinced that the administration's extraordinary access to this vast repository of international financial data, however carefully targeted use it may be, is a matter of public interest," said Bill Keller, the Times' executive editor.
Let's make this quite clear. The only interest being served here is the media's. There is no compelling public interest whatsoever. If someone were to publish the floor plans of the New York Times building, would the NYT be so all fired up about the right of the public to know?