Leaked NIE Report Takes Center Stage in Pre-Election Battle

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," September 27, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

JOHN GIBSON, HOST: Today's big political story: Someone leaked part of the National Intelligence Estimate and now it's the biggest battle on Capitol Hill after The New York Times printed a portion of the NIE. President Bush declassified even more of it saying that way Americans could read it for themselves. Now Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman wants another high-level report on Iraq to be released before November's election.

Are these documents becoming political footballs? Let's ask syndicated columnist and FOX News Channel contributor Michelle Malkin.

Michelle, first of all, why do we never see any action on actually pursuing leakers? It appears that the only leaker who is being pursued is Mr. Libby. NSA, CIA, secret prisons, now this. Nothing's happening.

MICHELLE MALKIN, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Yeah, that's a really good question, John. And I would like to see the Bush administration be more aggressive about sending a message to the leakers, the cadre of former spooks who are leaking all of this anti-Bush stuff to the press. And also action on the press itself.

And there have been a number of legal scholars who have made a very good case that The New York Times and some of these other papers that are abetting the illegal leakers that they could be held legally accountable, too. But you don't see it. I think the Bush administration does not want to push it. It would be a very unpopular thing to do. But look, it's the only way we are going to stop this leaky faucet from continuing to gush.

GIBSON: How can we regard this as anything but a politically motivated leak from inside the CIA?

MALKIN: Oh, it is nothing but. And I was glad to see President Bush make that crystal clear. And it's funny because you have these cherry-pickers now screaming and whining about the Bush administration being guilty of cherry-picking.

But I think that there has been a pattern of this. There are people in the CIA and in the intelligence agencies who have it in for President Bush. And, in fact, we saw a repeat of this two years ago leading up to the 2004 election as well where intelligence agencies were leaking portions of secret reports to The New York Times.

GIBSON: Now, Jane Harman wants this report on Iraq to be released before the November election. We have Jane Harman on here all the time. Nice lady. No criticism of her in general. But is that a legitimate request for information from a congresswoman, or is that a request for some political ammunition?

MALKIN: Well, I would need to know when this report actually was finished and completed. And my question with regard to this NIE that was completed in April is where were all these Democrats clamoring for it to be released say a month or two months or three or four months ago?

GIBSON: Well, much better timing-wise for them — for it to be released closer to the election. Is that a fair statement?

MALKIN: Absolutely. And, you know, there's this good leak/bad leak liberal equation that really needs to be stated, pretty explicitly. Good leak: anything that harms Bush. Bad leak: everything else.

GIBSON: All right. Michelle Malkin, FOX News contributor and syndicated columnist, thank you very much.

Content and Programming Copyright 2006 FOX News Network, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Transcription Copyright 2006 Voxant, Inc. (www.voxant.com), which takes sole responsibility for the accuracy of the transcription. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. No license is granted to the user of this material except for the user's personal or internal use and, in such case, only one copy may be printed, nor shall user use any material for commercial purposes or in any fashion that may infringe upon FOX News Network, LLC'S and Voxant, Inc.'s copyrights or other proprietary rights or interests in the material. This is not a legal transcript for purposes of litigation.