This is a partial transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 30, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
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JOHN GIBSON, GUEST HOST: Hi, I'm John Gibson reporting tonight for Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us.
Our top story tonight is the grand jury testimony of New York Times reporter Judith Miller (search). After spending 12 weeks in a Virginia jail for refusing to give up her secret source on the story leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame (search) — that was in 2003 — Miller came clean. It was Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff who gave her the goods.
You may remember Valerie Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, publicly disputed one of the White House rationales for going to war in Iraq. Some took the disclosure to be some sort of political payback.
Mr. Libby said he waived his confidentiality more than a year ago. Ms. Miller was waiting for him to do it in person.
Judith Miller is now out of jail, but what's in store for Scooter Libby (search)? Joining us now from Washington is Newt Gingrich, FOX News political analyst and author of the book "Winning the Future."
So Mr. Gingrich, first thing's first. I'm a little confused. If Scooter Libby gave his waiver a year ago, why did Judith Miller spend 12 weeks in jail?
NEWT GINGRICH, FOX NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: I think you have to ask Judith Miller. I can't understand. Scooter Libby's a very honorable man, who's been serving his country for many, many years. And if he said a year ago, which means of course he and his lawyer clearly shared that information with the grand jury, with the U.S. attorney, I can't quite understand why she would spend three months of her life in jail if Scooter had already accepted the fact that it was OK to talk about it.
GIBSON: Is there something — you know, I guess I'm the one who's supposed to answer this — but in your mind, is there something different about a personal waiver? That is, he says it to her on the phone or in person, rather than sign a piece of paper which she looks at?
GINGRICH: Listen, I don't know. Sometimes, you know, The New York Times is a very unusual institution. And its members can be very complex in their thought processes.
And Judith Miller's a very fine reporter who did very outstanding work in Iraq one time. I have great respect for her. She's written a great book on biological warfare.
So how she ended up getting talked into this position is beyond me. But it would strike me that if Scooter Libby said a year ago in writing, "It's OK," this could all have been solved a long time ago.
GIBSON: Yes. All right now, having said that, Mr. Libby has revealed himself. And she has revealed to the grand jury that he was her source. Now she never wrote a story, but she did have this conversation and he was her source. What happens to him?
GINGRICH: Well, you don't know because the actual law is very specific. It says you have to know the person is a covert agent. You have to know that they have been at risk within the last five years. And you have to knowingly be disclosing it in a way which could be harmful.
If Scooter Libby simply said, "Gee, I understand she's out of the CIA," didn't say she was a covert agent, it's very conceivable. Or if he said I have heard rumors that...
It's very conceivable that he did not in any way break the law. And so I think you've got to really look carefully.
Remember, her husband has now turned out to be a consistent liar. The Senate Intelligence Committee found him to be falsely testifying. They found his book to be filed with falsehoods.
And here's a man who was a John Kerry supporter, who claimed that he had been sent by the vice president's office which Scooter Libby works for, which is explicitly untrue. And we now know that, in fact, his wife recommended him for the job.
The notion of how Mr. Wilson could have imagined that he could start a national story attacking the president of the United States and not have somebody notice his wife was working at the CIA when the CIA hired him to go to Niger strikes me as beyond credibility.
I think he personally blew this up to the biggest possible political damage to the president he could. And that's what we really have the overhang of.
GIBSON: Let me turn to another issue. As you know, the federal judge Hellerstein (search) ordered the release of the Abu Ghraib photos that we have not seen yet. One of the reasons we haven't seen them is that they're worse than the ones we already saw.
So what does Hurricane Hellerstein do for Americans in Iraq or elsewhere once the Islamist press gets hold of these photos?
GINGRICH: Well, first of all, I would hope that the administration will appeal that decision by a single judge and will go, if necessary, all the way to the Supreme Court.
I don't understand why we have an obligation to release documents damaging to the United States, guaranteed to increase anger and hostility to us overseas. Everybody agrees Abu Ghraib was a terrible mistake. Everybody agrees that some young Americans who, by the way, have been punished unlike the terrorists and the torturers in Saddam's dictatorship, unlike the murderers and the rapists in Saddam's dictatorship. When we find people who do wrong in America, we punish them.
And I think I can't imagine in the national interest why it is useful to publish these. And I frankly can't imagine why the ACLU at this point would want to fight to publish these, since they can only be harmful to the United States of America.
GIBSON: I think they're probably going to argue that they're not going to be any more harmful that the Islamists already are. I think that's what Judge Hellerstein said. And these are.
GINGRICH: But who is he to make that judgment? What knowledge does he have of propaganda systems in the Middle East? What expertise does he have on techniques used by Al Qaeda and other Islamic extremist groups to destroy the United States?
I mean, to have a United States judge decide he's now the chief decider of national security interest in the United States strikes me as an extraordinary overreach by a judge in an area where he has no expertise.
GIBSON: Also, Katrina has been a problem for the president, the hurricane. And undoubtedly, the Tom DeLay (search) indictment and the fact that Mr. DeLay has had to step aside in his leadership position is going to hurt the president. Right or wrong?
GINGRICH: No, I think you're right. And I actually think we are now entering the most important decision period for the Republican Party since Ronald Reagan became president in 1980.
And the reason I say that is the Republican Party has won consistently for 24 years as the party of reform, the party of conservativism, the party who could get things done.
I think all of those are now on the line. And my hope is that the president and the leaders of the House and the Senate, over the next three or four months, will firmly, decisively prove to the country that they're prepared to be the party of real change. I hope the president will come and give a joint session address outlining very bold, dramatic change.
Because what happened in Katrina should be absolutely, totally unacceptable to all Americans, and should indicate a need to overhaul government at the city, the state, and the federal level.
And the Republican Party, if it becomes the party of denial and the party that defends in confidence and systems that fail, I think we'll be in for a very bad `06 and `08.
GIBSON: Does that apply to DeLay as well?
GINGRICH: Well, I think Congressman DeLay did exactly the right thing. He stepped down. We all hope that it's temporary. We all hope that as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal have both pointed out that this very flimsy indictment goes away. We hope he's vindicated and returns as majority leader.
But I think quite clearly, in a situation like that, he owed it to the House of Representatives and to the Republican Party to step aside. And I think if we will focus on the changes we need, thing will work out for everyone.
GIBSON: Mr. Speaker, thanks a lot.
GINGRICH: Thank you.
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