It’s always Pulitzer Time in the world of the elite media, so the New York Times and and the Los Angeles Times have tripped over each other rushing to reveal to the public–and ruin–a highly successful secret program set up in the days following 9/11, in which the Treasury Department monitors overseas financial transactions involving money-laundering and other financing of terrorists and would-be terrorists inside the United States.

Of course, thanks to the NYT and the LAT, the program, which is perfectly legal, contains constitutional safeguards, and doesn’t involve the domestic bank transactions of U.S. citizens, is secret no more, thanks to our elite media, who deem that it’s more “in the public interest” for them to win journalism prizes (hey, and maybe bring down the Bush administration!) than to protect our citizens from more 9/11-style attacks. Can’t we set up a gallows in Times Square?

Drudge’s Andrew Breitbart has the story (and Michelle Malkin the links to outraged conservative commentary) on how administration officials pleaded for hours with the Timesmen on both coasts not to run the story–a move that has effectively tipped off the terrorists and killed the program. 

Here’s an excerpt from the NYT report:

” Under a secret Bush administration program initiated weeks after the Sept. 11 attacks, counterterrorism officials have gained access to financial records from a vast international database and examined banking transactions involving thousands of Americans and others in the United States, according to government and industry officials.

“The program is limited, government officials say, to tracing transactions of people suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda by reviewing records from the nerve center of the global banking industry, a Belgian cooperative that routes about $6 trillion daily between banks, brokerages, stock exchanges and other institutions. The records mostly involve wire transfers and other methods of moving money overseas and into and out of the United States. Most routine financial transactions confined to this country are not in the database.”

Furthermore, as the NYT concedes:

“Viewed by the Bush administration as a vital tool, the program has played a hidden role in domestic and foreign terrorism investigations since 2001 and helped in the capture of the most wanted Qaeda figure in Southeast Asia, the officials said.

“Among the successes was the capture of a Qaeda operative, Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, believed to be the mastermind of the 2002 bombing of a Bali resort, several officials said. The Swift data identified a previously unknown figure in Southeast Asia who had financial dealings with a person suspected of being a member of Al Qaeda; that link helped locate Hambali in Thailand in 2003, they said.

“In the United States, the program has provided financial data in investigations into possible domestic terrorist cells as well as inquiries of Islamic charities with suspected of having links to extremists, the officials said.

“The data also helped identify a Brooklyn man who was convicted on terrorism-related charges last year, the officials said. The man, Uzair Paracha, who worked at a New York import business, aided a Qaeda operative in Pakistan by agreeing to launder $200,000 through a Karachi bank, prosecutors said.”

Oh, well, that’s nothing compared to the glee on 43rd Street at making Bushies look bad–not to mention the prizes that might be in the offing.

Here’s the NYT’s smarmy self-justification:

“Bill Keller, the newspaper’s executive editor, said: ‘We have listened closely to the administration’s arguments for withholding this information, and given 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 of it may be, is a matter of public interest.'”

And here’s the LAT’s:

 “‘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.”

And here’s some commentary from Stephen Spruiell of National Review Online’s Media Blog:

“According to the NYT’s own reporting, the program is legal. The program is helping us catch terrorists. The administration has briefed the appropriate members of Congress. The program has built-in safeguards to prevent abuse. And yet, with nothing more than a vague appeal to the ‘public interest’ (which apparently is not outweighed in this case by the public’s interest in apprehending terrorists), the NYT disregards all that and publishes intimate, classified details about the program. Keller and his team really do believe they are above the law. When it comes to national security, it isn’t the government that should decide when secrecy is essential to a program’s effectiveness. It is the New York Times.

“National security be damned. There are Pulitzers to be won.”

For more outrage from InkWell, read The Other’s Charlotte’s commentary just below. We are beside ourselves!