Below we note that when the New York Times published its December 2005 exposé of the secret National Security Agency electronic surveillance of al Qaeda-related communications, Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau granted anonymity to the “nearly a dozen current and former officials” who were the sources for the story.
Risen and Lichtblau stated that they had granted these sources anonymity “because of the classified nature of the program.” Implicit in the Times’s rationale was the recognition that leaks of such classified information are illegal, as indeed they are. They violate the espionage laws of the United States.
Risen and Lichtblau got away with blowing the NSA terrorist surveillance program, and in 2006 they struck again. This time they blew the SWIFT program used by the Treasury to track terrorist financing. They got away with it this time too.
Earlier this week Garbriel Schoenfeld wondered whether the revelation of these programs facilitated the attempted terrorist attack in Times Square by Faisal Shahzad. Schoenfeld didn’t answer the question directly, but he provided ground for tentatively concluding that it did. Today Schoenfeld writes us to note “[t]wo interesting details” that he would add to the Times Square bombing column (linked above) if he were to do it over.
Schoenfeld adds two points that corroborate the implication of his column that Risen and the Times may have facilitated the attempted attack: “First, Shahzad used a disposable cell phone to communicate—the NSA leak may very well explain why he did that. Second, according to the AP this morning, he received funds from abroad via a courier. A courier!!! The SWIFT leak is almost certainly implicated here.”
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