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N.Y. Times editor defends banking story

NEW YORK -- Published reports that the United States was monitoring international banking transactions were not news to terrorists because the Bush administration had already ``talked openly" about the effort, the top editor of The New York Times said yesterday.

In defending his paper's decision to reveal details of the program, Times executive editor Bill Keller said on CBS's ``Face the Nation" that such investigations are important to an informed public.

Reports in several newspapers last month that the White House was tracking terrorist-related financial transactions triggered a storm of criticism, primarily from Republicans.

The Times often withholds information from publication ``when lives are clearly at risk," Keller said. ``But this was a case where clearly the terrorists or the people who finance them know quite well, because the Treasury Department and the White House have talked openly about it, that they monitor international banking transactions," he said.

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