PAULA ZAHN NOW - Transcript
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ZAHN: And now I'm going turn to a member of Congress who says "The Times" ought to face criminal charges for revealing this secret program, Representative Peter King, a New York Republican who is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight.
KING: Thank you, Paula.
I wanted to start off by reading a short sentence from the Espionage Act of 1917. And it basically says, it makes it a crime for a person to convey information with intent to interfere with the operation or success of the armed forces of the United States or to promote the success of its enemies.
We just heard what Tony Snow had to say. He said it is not clear what the impact of printing this story was. Are you saying that "The New York Times" intended to compromise the security of our nation by printing this story?
KING: Paula, what I'm saying is, they had to know that this would compromise the security of the United States.
The administration laid out the case why it would do that, and they went ahead. To me, this was a reckless disregard of the security of the United States. And I believe that fits within the Espionage Act of 1917. And that's why I'm calling on the attorney general to begin an investigation and prosecution of "The New York Times," including its reporters who worked on the case, the editors who worked on the case, and Sulzberger, the publisher.
ZAHN: Why not the sources?
KING: Oh, the sources as well. Obviously, we should go after the sources. What they have done here is absolutely reprehensible. And, in going after the sources, one way to get them is to put the reporters in before the grand jury from "The New York Times," and, if they don't reveal those sources, to cite them for contempt.
I think there's a lot of things we can do here. For instance, I don't know why any American who cares about the security of the country would continue to advertise in "The New York Times" or why anyone would want to hold stock in "The New York Times." I mean, what they have done here is absolutely disgraceful.
ZAHN: But, Representative King, you heard Tony Snow. And -- and he said that, right now, there is no way to measure what the impact of this story has been and whether it, in his -- fact, has compromised the the -- investigation.
KING: Well, it is too soon to know the exact extent. But you have to know, when you reveal secrets in time of war, that it is going to have a significant effect. Now, it will take time to know exactly how significant it is going to be. Are we going to lose tens of lives, or hundreds of lives, or thousands of lives?
But it has definitely compromised America. Just as you -- if you give secrets to an enemy, you don't exactly know how long it's going to take, but common sense shows that, when you compromise such an important program, which has been so successful in tracking down terrorists, then, it has to work against the United States. If nothing else, we have alerted the enemy. We have let them know exactly what we're doing, and they can adjust their methods.
ZAHN: You say we have alerted the enemy. Are you telling me tonight that leaders of these terrorist organizations had no idea that their financial transactions were being monitored?
KING: Oh, they knew we were trying to do it. And they knew we were somewhat successful. And they certainly knew we do a very good job in the United States.
But they did not -- my understanding, they did not have any real knowledge of the full extent of what we were capable of doing. They guessed we might be able to do it, but they didn't know the full extent of it. They didn't know that we had this agreement with SWIFT, which literally involves millions and millions of transactions.
And they were guessing they were -- and they thought we might, but now that we have laid it out for them. They know exactly what we have. I would much rather have kept them guessing.
ZAHN: Representative King, just a real brief answer to this.
Out of all of the classified information that has ever been passed along to reporters, there has never been one single prosecution under this Espionage Act that we were both talking about. Very quickly, in closing, are you really confident you're going successfully prosecute someone here?
KING: I'm confident the attorney general should do it. Whether he does or not is up to him. But I think the time has come to put an end to this.
"The New York Times," they're serial offenders. They're recidivists. They have done it before. They're doing it again. We have a war ahead of us which is going to go for many years. We can't afford the risk of American lives because of the arrogance and the left-wing agenda of "The New York Times."
ZAHN: Representative Peter King, thank you so much for your time.
KING: Thank you, Paula.
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