The top editor of the New York Times said on Sunday if he had it to do again, he would still publish his newspaper's controversial expose of a secret programme monitoring global bank transfers, despite outrage from the Republican White House and members of Congress.
Speaking on CBS television's "Face The Nation" programme on Sunday, Times executive editor Bill Keller said he did not regret his decision to run the story, which was condemned on Thursday in a vote by the Republican-led House of Representatives in a non-binding resolution.
"I think it's useful for us to discuss, to know about how our government is waging this war to protect us," Keller said of the story, which revealed how the Central Intelligence Agency and US Treasury Department accesses millions of money transfer records from SWIFT, the Belgium-based international cooperative that serves as a clearing house for interbank transactions.
President George W Bush led sweeping administration criticism, calling the disclosure first by the daily and later by the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal "disgraceful."
But Keller downplayed the impact of the June 23 story, saying that war on terror suspects around the globe long have surmised that their bank transactions are monitored.
"This was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance terrorism know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions.