- Nov 22, 2003
They are putting both military and civilians at risk, so the natural outcome:
White House becoming more secretive after leaks
By Bill Sammon, The Examiner
Jun 23, 2006 5:45 PM (2 days ago)
Washington, D.C. - The Bush administration is becoming more secretive in response to press disclosures about the tracking of global financial transfers and other counter-terrorism measures, said Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff.
In an exclusive interview with The Examiner, Chertoff criticized newspapers that revealed the financial tracking program on Friday. President Bush earlier complained that some of the same newspapers damaged national security by disclosing a classified terrorist surveillance program.
"Not only have these individual releases of classified stuff been damaging, but in the aggregate, it has led to a general impression that nothing is a secret and that causes people to ever more closely hold the information,"
Chertoff told The Examiner in his Washington office on Friday. "That's having a real damaging effect."
The damage is particularly acute at the White House, Chertoff said.
"You actually deprive the decision makers and the president of the ability to get the full range of advice because - if the president has to worry that
talking to people who have important things to say is going to result in something getting out - he's not going to have that conversation.
"And that's going to drive exactly the kind of insularity that the press claims they don,t like," he said.
Administration officials tried to convince the New York Times and Los Angeles Times not to publish the stories about the financial tracking program, but to no avail. That angered Vice President Dick Cheney.
"What I find most disturbing about these stories is the fact that some of the news media take it upon themselves to disclose vital national security programs, thereby making it more difficult for us to prevent future attacks against the American people," Cheney said Friday in Chicago. "That offends me."
Chertoff said "these unauthorized disclosures are tremendously harmful" because they allow Internet-savvy terrorists to change their tactics.
"It causes people to become more careful," he said. "It reminds them of the need to preserve their operational security, it suggests to them things that they may think are buried in a large mass of data actually may not be as buried as they think they are."
He added: "As you talk about areas where we are intercepting or collecting data, you are at a minimum reminding the enemy that they have to be very careful in terms of how they deal with those data."
p>For more details from this exclusive interview, read Bill Sammon's two-part series in The Washington Examiner newspaper and Examiner.com on Monday and Tuesday.