This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," on Friday, June 23, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.
RICH LOWRY, GUEST CO-HOST: Today's New York Times front page story reported on a secret Bush administration program started after September 11 that allowed intelligence officials to gain access to thousands of financial records.
The New York Times implied in the story that this is just another example of the administration being caught secretly spying on Americans but now everyone is looking at the story that way.
Joining us now is former CIA operative Wayne Simmons.
Wayne, given that there's nothing the least bit illegal about this program, not even really arguably illegal, who benefits from its publication besides the terrorists?
WAYNE SIMMONS, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Yes, Rich. Imagine that, something that is not illegal that is — that is gleaning vast amounts of intelligence for the United States to protect the United States. And the only ones that benefit from — from publishing this type of top secret, top secret intel is the enemy. Who's the enemy? Al Qaeda. They monitor everything.
So now again, once again we have a top secret program, a legal top secret program being compromised by those inside of our intelligence agency somewhere committing treasonous crimes that are benefiting the enemy.
Now, if the administration now does not finally take a very, very hard line and find out who's leaking this intel and either stand them in front of a firing squad or put them in prison for the rest of their lives, then you know what? Shame on them.
LOWRY: OK, Wayne you don't have me on the firing squad, but I agree with you. This is a very serious matter. And let's address one of the arguments that people on the other side will say. They'll say, "Oh, terrorists of course they know they're being tracked. And their financial tractions — transactions are being sought after by a government."
But I guarantee you that there are very few of any terrorists who were aware of the SWIFT program, that were aware that a financial transaction from Saudi Arabia to Sudan, say, could actually be tracked by the United States government, and now they know.
SIMMONS: Rich, listen, I was involved in a SWIFT — in SWIFT programs in tracking these 16 years ago in the beginning. And I can tell you unequivocally, every movement of virtually every bit of money that moves around the world every day, thousands and thousands and thousands of times, is — has been tracked and is tracked.
This is nothing that we haven't done before, and it benefits all of us. These guys are not as sophisticated as we might think about the financial institutions. This hurt us.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Wayne, let me get back to this firing squad? You what a line — what do you want a lineup? The editor and publisher of The New York Times and shoot them to death?
SIMMONS: No, actually, I don't. But I think he needs to go to prison.
COLMES: Wait. Wait a second. Don't we have, like, a due process in this country? Don't we have court systems? You've decided you want to send to prison a journalist who breaks a story about a question about whether it's legal?
SIMMONS: Oh, Alan, excuse me. All of a sudden, here we go again. You give these people this — this wonderful, magical title of being a journalist, so it gives this journalist somehow the authority to — to divulge what he knows to be top-secret government programs.
COLMES: Let me — Wayne, let me get the other guest in here, Wayne. And unfortunately, because we were late getting on. James Bovard, the author of "Attention Deficit Democracy."
James, thank you for being with us.
JAMES BOVARD, AUTHOR, "ATTENTION DEFICIT DEMOCRACY": Thanks for having me on.
COLMES: Is this treasonous? Do we know if laws were broken? Wasn't there the 1978 right to privacy, financial privacy act that restricted government access to Americans' financial records? Please respond to what Wayne said.
BOVARD: Yes, it's news to me that the role of the media in a free society is to supposed to be to cover up government crimes.
You know, we still have no idea what the government has done here. The government's stories after every major surveillance expose, the government has changed its story day after day, week after week. This story is probably going to look a lot worse three or four days from now than it does now.
And we have no idea what the government's doing. And this whole idea that the government's not breaking the law. I mean, from what the news accounts today, it sounds as if there were simply secret subpoenas of the caliber of sending a notice to Brussels and saying, "Send us all the information on financial transactions by anybody named Ahmed."
I mean, these are very broad. These are vacuum cleaners. And these are vacuum cleaners that have failed in the past because the government's swept up way too much information. They couldn't handle it.
COLMES: And last I checked, Wayne Simmons, we used warrants. We were told we were going to use warrants the last time, but turns out that they didn't. They weren't direct with us out in the NSA and what that was doing.
Why should we believe them now that this is narrow and targeted? We've been down that road before and they weren't telling us the truth.
SIMMONS: Hey Alan, great question. Why should we believe the government? Because exactly what you and James and those like you claimed about the NSA terrorist eavesdropping before proved to be false. And that's what's going to happen this time.
LOWRY: All right, guys. We've got to leave it right there.
By the way, the Supreme Court has clearly held that these sort of records that are in the hands of a third party, there's no privacy right there.
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