Monday, July 03, 2006

Jonah pisses himself, again

Jonah Goldberg, that is. In today's Star Tribune, he has an op-ed piece entitled Liberals undermine the nation and the war. His premise is that the bad old New York Times - and he fails to mention the Wall Street Journal, which did the same thing - committed a grave breach of security by publishing a story about the administration's surveillance of SWIFT banking transactions.

SWIFT must be really secret, Jonah. How could terrorists have possibly learned about it and its role in international banking communication and wire transfers? Well, one way might be to look at the SWIFT website. It's actually pretty comprehensive. It explains SWIFT's role thusly:

SWIFT is the financial industry-owned co-operative supplying secure, standardised messaging services and interface software to 7,800 financial institutions in more than 200 countries. SWIFT's worldwide community includes banks, broker/dealers and investment managers, as well as their market infrastructures in payments, securities, treasury and trade.

SWIFT says this about cooperating with authorities:
SWIFT is solely a carrier of messages between financial institutions. The information in these messages is issued and controlled exclusively by the sending and receiving institutions. SWIFT does not hold assets nor manage accounts on behalf of customers. It does not clear or settle transactions.

Given its importance in the financial community, SWIFT takes its role in the global fight against money laundering and other illegal activities extremely seriously:

1. Responsibilities - It is SWIFT policy that its services should not be used to facilitate illegal activities. Users are urged to take all reasonable steps to prevent any misuse of the SWIFT system.

2. Cooperation - SWIFT has a history of cooperating in good faith with authorities such as central banks, treasury departments, law enforcement agencies and appropriate international organisations, such as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF*), in their efforts to combat abuse of the financial system for illegal activities.

3. No comment policy - Due to the sensitive nature of these contacts, SWIFT does not comment on them.

The challenge facing the financial industry is to implement measures that prevent illegal behaviour without penalising the efficient processing of legitimate financial transactions. SWIFT is fully committed to doing its part to address this challenge and remains committed to its policy of cooperation to fight money laundering and illegal activities within the scope of its activity.

Are these the sort of people you would trust with your money-laundering activities? Spot wouldn't.

Jonah, just because you will wet your pants in print on command from the administration, don't expect everyone else to! That goes for you, too, Johnny Rocketseed. It is long past time that someone shined a light on all the privacy and civil rights abuses of the Bush administration.

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