This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 21, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.
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ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: What exactly was in the classified documents that has Sandy Berger (search) in so many trouble and should they be released to the public to stop the scandal mongering?
Joining us now is Sandy Berger's former spokesman, P.J. Crowley.
Mr. Crowley, good to have you with us.
P.J. CROWLEY, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR SANDY BERGER: Hello, Alan.
COLMES: Does it matter so much what's in them versus the whole of what Sandy Berger did or did not do? Isn't that the issue?
CROWLEY: Well, I mean, the issue is what Sandy Berger did and a man of integrity made a serious mistake.
But let's talk about what he did not do. He did not hamper the investigation of the 9/11 Commission (search). In fact, today Governor Kean (search) said clearly to congressional leaders that it had no affect on their report that's coming out tomorrow.
The second thing is he didn't hamper national security. The fact is all that we've done through this regrettable leak is hamper the reputation of a very, very good man.
COLMES: And I understand that and I know how well Sandy Berger is regarded. I'm a fan of his, and I just want to understand this because — and I want Americans to understand how a good man would do something that, on the surface, doesn't look that good. Right?
CROWLEY: Well, he has made clear to the investigators over nine months — remember, this happened last October – that he took notes from the archives. That was a violation of the archives' policy.
I think that his intent there was simply knowing he would have to testify and spend a great deal of time with the 9/11 commission as he did, he wanted to make sure that his testimony was accurate, if he really wanted to make sure it was fair and balanced.
What he said he did not do was intentionally take documents from the archives. These were copies of a memo...
COLMES: But he absent mindedly put stuff in his pocket, is that what he's saying?
CROWLEY: And I think we all have to admit, the only man that knows what happened here is Sandy Berger. He's cooperated fully with the investigation. And given his reputation, I think we have to give him the benefit of the doubt.
COLMES: What I'm curious about, if they were watching him and they knew this was happening. And other people there, the archivists were seeing what he was doing and this happened on a few occasions, why didn't they say something then or stop him if, indeed, they saw him taking what they believed to be documents that should not be taken from the room?
CROWLEY: Well, I think the only thing that I know is that once the archives brought the matter to his attention, he searched his house, and he returned the documents that were in his possession.
And again, I think it's most important that people know that this was a document that back in 1999 and 2000, after the millennium, it was the after action review of what the government did, what it learned from stopping the attacks that al Qaeda had planned for New Year's.
You know, this was a document that was very widely circulated. So I don't think that anyone can make a credible case...
COLMES: Lots of people had copies of this.
I'm curious also, because yesterday the White House spokesperson Scott McClellan said the first he heard of it was when media reports came out.
And today he said something very different. He said that, indeed, the White House counsel Alberto Gonzalez knew about this before it was leaked to the media. So I see two disparate comments on two different dates from the White House spokesperson about this.
CROWLEY: Well, I think rightfully so, Alan, if we're going to talk about what Sandy Berger has done, rightfully so. We also need to understand why we're having this conversation nine months after the investigation started and several months after Sandy testified publicly to the 9/11 commission, all of the sudden you have a brilliantly timed leak.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: P.J., you don't have any evidence — you don't have any — you do not have any evidence...
CROWLEY: ...on the sidelines.
HANNITY: P.J., you don't want people to come out with unsubstantiated evidence. You have no evidence that any Republican leaked this and for you to say so with such certainty is just speculation. So let's get that up front.
You don't want people to do that to Sandy. You ought not accuse Republicans without any proof that they leaked this information, because you don't know that to be true, do you?
HANNITY: No, you do not.
CROWLEY: I did not say the word "Republicans." You did. Sean.
HANNITY: No, but you're saying it's the timing of this. Who are you referring to then? Democrats?
CROWLEY: OK. My turn. My turn. OK. Monday, someone leaked this matter to an Associated Press reporter.
CROWLEY: I find it hard to believe this is a coincidence.
HANNITY: Hard to believe.
CROWLEY: It happens the week of the 9/11 report.
HANNITY: I don't even want to talk about it. This is Democratic spin. Here is what I do want to talk about.
The initial report, quote, "Berger" — and I'm reading from the AP article — "and his lawyer said Monday that he knowingly removed the handwritten notes and placed them in his jacket and also inadvertently took copies of the classified documents."
That's what they're admitting. He knowingly did this. He knows the rules. He's the former national security adviser and a lawyer. Why would he do that, if not to hide something that he didn't want the American people or this commission to know about?
CROWLEY: Well, Sean, first of all, he's not going to hide anything, because the subject at hand was what the Clinton administration did during the millennium. This was the high water mark of the Clinton administration and our focus on counterterrorism. It was...
HANNITY: Speculation on your part. Do you know what was in those documents?
CROWLEY: ...that this administration had.
HANNITY: You're speculating.
CROWLEY: I know that's off the question...
HANNITY: The document.
CROWLEY: ...to do with the millennium. It was the after action review of the millennium.
HANNITY: Here's my next question. Do you know, did he or did he not put them in his pants?
CROWLEY: Sean, I don't know. I wasn't there. I think that if he was going to perhaps walk out with his notes, it might be logical he'd fold them up and put them in his pocket.
HANNITY: OK. But if we find out, in fact, that he or anybody else goes to the National Archives knowing the rules about sensitive documents, such as this, if they put them in their pants, that would be more than suspicious.
That would tell us that they were obviously doing something that they knew was wrong, right?
CROWLEY: Well, Sean, I think you're falling into their trap. They want to talk about socks and pants, not about substance and...
HANNITY: No, I want to know the truth. No, no, no, no. That's not the trap.
I want to know if a former national security adviser would risk his career, his reputation and put something and hide sensitive documents — and he has high security clearance — if he would do that, then that tells me that there was something there that was so damaging to him and the administration he worked for that he didn't want the world to know about it, that he was willing to risk his career and reputation.
That is a very pertinent fact to this case.
CROWLEY: All right. I understand your question, but I think you're flipping it on its head. It was not a question of hiding something, because we're talking at the archives about copies of documents. We're not talking about originals.
HANNITY: How many people do you know shove documents in their pants?
CROWLEY: Documents the 9/11 Commission had.
HANNITY: How many people do you know...
CROWLEY: The 9/11 commission has made sure — made clear they have this document that's going to be part of the report tomorrow.
HANNITY: How many people do you know — wait, P.J.
CROWLEY: Sandy Berger was not hiding anything.
CROWLEY: Sandy Berger was making sure that when he testified, his testimony was accurate.
HANNITY: How many people do you know, especially at the national security adviser level, that shove documents down their pants? You have got to admit that if a Republican was doing this that you would think that they were up to no good. Wouldn't you?
CROWLEY: Well, I've got to admit that the source for your characterization is — if you want to use...
HANNITY: No, no, no. It's the newspaper's; it's the Associated Press.
COLMES: We've got to break.
HANNITY: And it's news reports around the country.
COLMES: We need more information. Let's find out if, indeed, that happened that way.
Thank you very much, Mr. Crowley.
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