CNN has posted the transcript of the discussion on Reliable Sources regarding the blowing of the terrorist finance tracking program with Howard Kurtz, Eric Lichtblau, Eugene Robinson, Geneva Overhosler and Hugh Hewitt. Here are two highlights:
KURTZ: Hugh Hewitt, you’ve been enormously critical of the “Times'” decision to publish this story. Do you believe that its editors and reporters should be prosecuted?
HUGH HEWITT: I don’t know enough to answer that question, because 18 USC 798 has a lot of elements to it, Howard. But I know this. Eric’s story helped terrorists elude capture. That’s what the outrage is about. That’s the widely shared opinion among people with intelligence background. It’s widely shared by soldiers in the field, as made evident on their blogs.
KURTZ: How can you be so sure of that, since it was just published last week?
HEWITT: Well, A, it’s very easy to deduce that unless every single terrorist in the world, the tens of thousands of them, knew about a program that the CIA didn’t even know about when 9/11 occurred, that they learned a great deal.
And B, in the story itself it talks about how Hambali, the most important terrorist in Southeast Asia, was apprehended because of this program. As we speak, I’m sure his associates are reverse engineering everything they previous thought they knew and figuring out how it was the transactions that helped finance him led to him. And they won’t do it again. It’s not rocket science, Howard. This helped terrorists elude capture.
KURTZ: Hugh Hewitt, what do you make of that? I mean, in other words, I think that some on the right are portraying this as “The New York Times” just sort of recklessly plowing ahead, putting this information in the paper, wanting to damage the Bush administration, when in the case of domestic surveillance, they held the story for a year. In this current case, on the banking program, the story was held for at least several weeks.
So would you not grant, at least, that they wrestled seriously with the implications here?
HEWITT: No, I won’t grant that, Howard, because Bill Keller won’t do any interviews with people hostile to his decision. Eric has turned me down repeatedly to come on my program. And when you listen to the MSMers gathered round there in the beltway, they’re not dealing with the real issue.
I’m not proposing, no one is proposing what Geneva and Gene suggest that we are talking about. We’re talking about a specific story in which, for the first time in American history, following on the December story as well, major media has turned down explicit requests from the government not to reveal material illegally leaked to them by, in this instance, 20 people who broke their oaths of office, who ought to be discovered, who ought to be, at least, thrown out of the government and possibly prosecuted. And I hope Eric is in front of a grand jury and asked their names.
It’s a specific case. It’s not a general shut-down; it’s not a repeal of the First Amendment. It’s a specific…
KURTZ: Hold on. So you’re saying — you’re saying you hope that Eric Lichtblau, who’s sitting right here, has to testify before a grand jury, and if he won’t reveal his sources, then you are perfectly comfortable with a judge sending him off to jail?
HEWITT: I don’t know the circumstances of how he would not be answering or who would make him, so I won’t answer that. I hope he is called before a grand jury and asked who broke the law, who broke their oath and told him secrets that I believe, as do many other people, including for example, Lieutenant Tom Cotton, Sergeant T.F. Boggs, both of whom have written letters to the “Times” which have gone unanswered…