President George W. Bush said it was "disgraceful" that the news media had disclosed a secret CIA-Treasury program to track millions of financial records in search of terrorist suspects. The White House accused The New York Times of breaking a long tradition of keeping wartime secrets.
"The fact that a newspaper disclosed it makes it harder to win this war on terror," Bush said Monday, leaning forward and jabbing his finger during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters in the Roosevelt Room.
The Times has defended its effort, saying publication has served America's public interest.
The newspaper, along with the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal, revealed last week that Treasury officials, beginning shortly after the 9/11 terror attacks, had obtained access to an extensive international financial database - the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or Swift.