You can’t leak something that’s already overflowing

If anyone tells you that certain leftist newspapers like the Wall Street Journal (though they will probably say the New York Times, which is about as “leftist” as the WSJ) committed treason by leaking intelligence about the U.S.’s secret searches within a vast global database of confidential financial transactions–tell them to go to a “burning hot” place.

Really. Because that is where The Heretik is camped out, exposing the outrageousness of this claim. He explains that the Bush administration has been doing nothing but blabbing for years about its intention to spy on and monitor financial transactions as a way of fighting the so-called war on terror.

“George Bush should look in the mirror,” The Heretik says, for “Nobody has done more to…tell terrorists we are on to them, on the financial trail which in some ways is going cold.”

He then provides a chronological collection of statements by Bush, beginning September 24, 2001, in which he explains to the world over and over how the U.S. is tracking international financial transactions and freezing the assets of terrorists.

Except, of course, that didn’t really happen. The Heretik points out that terrorists do not actually do business with Swift–what a surprise– only with a few selected Swift banks, and that terrorist assets are easily and quickly converted to things like diamonds, gold and investments in front companies. However, as a result of the fishing expedition, millions of confidential Swift records have been released without authorization, violating privacy laws, and resulting in complaints lodged in thirty-two countries.

“The simple truth is terrorists need little money to do great harm.” So says The Heretik. And he refers to Bryan Bender’s Boston Globe story, in which Bender quotes former terror financing expert Victor D. Comras:

Unless they were pretty dumb, they had to assume their transactions were being monitored. We have spent the last four years bragging how effective we have been in tracking terrorist financing.


Mother Jones was founded as a nonprofit in 1976 because we knew corporations and the wealthy wouldn't fund the type of hard-hitting journalism we set out to do.

Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2019 demands.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.