Q Tony, regarding the disclosure last week of the SWIFT monitoring program, I understand the theoretical argument that this impedes the ability to conduct intelligence, but does the White House know for a fact that it's demonstrably changed and lessened the ability --We all know that any sentence that includes a "but" is only partially received and perceived. Which part of Tony's statement will be remembered?
MR. SNOW: We took this up yesterday, which is, you're not going to be able to assess definitively within a day. But I think what you're likely to have is negative confirmation in the sense people change their behavior. This is a program that had worked, that had worked -- not only had been successful in intercepting terrorist funding and foiling terrorist plots and saving lives. And The New York Times story itself said as much. It's not as if terrorists are going to say, oops, got to stop doing that. You're not likely to get a lot of intel traffic. But on the other hand, I can imagine that over a period of time you're going to see some sort of patterns emerge.
Keep in mind also the idea that there's going to be a snap decision on this. The way the program worked was, you did not track bank transfers in real time. There was a lag. For instance, if you were going to seek a subpoena, you would have to cite specific intelligence, it would have to be reviewed by outside auditors, it would have to have allowed a certain amount of time to elapse. None of those things have had time to proceed. So we really don't have any basis right now for knowing exactly how it's influenced things, but I think it is safe to say that once you provide a piece of intelligence, people on the inside act on it.
Tuesday, June 27, 2006
When Snow Melts Himself
Okay, so the W, Rove and Co. argument goes: If we leak (who's fault is that, btw) top secret information and it is published in the press, it will hurt our efforts to stop bad people from doing bad things. Okay, just one question: If you can't predict the future, how do you know this is the case? Remember, this is just like the whole WMD ploy - the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. As Radar O'Reily used to say, "Wait for it." Tony the Snow-job commits rhetorical suicide for the W, Rove and Co one more time. The trouble is, the American people are too busy to notice that he melts his own argument: