Two things stand out.
1. Rep. Jack Murtha asked them not to publish the story.
BLITZER: Who were the three people outside of the administration that asked you not to report this information?
KELLER: Tom Kean, Lee Hamilton and Congressman Jack Murtha.
BLITZER: Congressman Jack Murtha, who has been an outspoken critic of the war in Iraq.
Good for Jack Murtha! He's not totally out to lunch on national security.
2. The NYT doesn't care if they out a program that is useful in the War on Terror.
BLITZER: The administration insists that some terrorists, in particular including Hambali, one of top terrorists in Southeast Asia, was picked up largely as a result of this secret program, and that by disclosing the program, other terrorists may be able to go forth and be free and do their work, whatever they want to do. Was that true that Hambali was picked up as a result of this -- what's called the SWIFT program?
KELLER: We cited a number of sources saying that that is true in our original story, and cited some other examples of where they believe this program has been useful.
We're not passing judgment on the usefulness of this program. That's not our job to do. There are, as with the NSA case, people who are expert and involved in the program who have questions both about its legality and about the way in their view of what was supposed to be a stopgap measure has become something permanent. But you know, our original story did not quarrel with their assertion that this has been a useful program.
The really sad part is that apparently your and my security is in the hands of newspaper publishers. They decide what secret information should remain secret and what should not remain secret. And those who leak information go scott free. Why is outing of Valerie Plame (whose life was never endangered) worthy of investigation and indictment but not outing of a successful anti-terrorist program? I wonder if the families of the next terrorism victims will ask that question.