The leak was planned

The U.S. Treasury expected news of their secret program to leak to the public. That was the plan all along.

Writes Paul Bedard in U.S. News & World Report:

Before you jump in with those heaping scorn on the New York Times for using a leak to reveal the secret Treasury program to search financial transactions for terrorist activities, know this: The Treasury Department expected it to leak. When the program was developed in 2003, a press plan was included. The goal: Get out front with the spin that there are safeguards to prevent snooping on private accounts, that it is legal, and that there are big benefits to it. "These three elements needed to be in the first-day story," says an insider. The plan worked. When the Times told Treasury it was running the story, top Treasury aides were OK’d to talk to the Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times, which presented the three points. "It was a textbook case of very good PR management," says the insider.