Secret Service Jumping the Gun?

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This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, July, 25 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: The Secret Service (search), actually are they endangering the life of President Bush?

Well, joining us now to talk now, a columnist, FOX News contributor, our good friend, Michelle Malkin, also a best-selling author.

Hello, Michelle. How are you?


HANNITY: We're talking about cartoonist Michael Ramirez (search) and what he put in the Los Angeles Times. And I think we even have a copy of it; we could put it up there. And what it has is a gun pointed at the head of the president, "politics" written on the back of the guy who is supposed to be the assassin.

I've got to be honest. I didn't know it was him that did this first thing. I was a little…any time there's a gun on the president, it makes me very, very nervous. Only, but he happens to be a very pro-Bush cartoonist and that needs to be pointed out.

MALKIN: Right. And the cartoon was published in the Los Angeles Times on Sunday. That's his premier spot. And I think that, sure, the image itself may make somebody a little bit nervous. But I think anybody who did two minutes of research, as the Secret Service should have done before they dispatched an agent out to the "Los Angeles Times" office, would have known that Ramirez is one of the few, the proud, the brave...


MALKIN: ... conservative op-ed editorial cartoonists in the country.


MALKIN: He's avowedly Republican and that there's no way anybody could have rationally interpreted...


MALKIN: ... the cartoon to be a snuff cartoon or an invitation to assassination.

HANNITY: I agree with you. And he even said it was really a defense of Bush, not an invitation for assassination. And I think clearly his track record shows that.

It is, in my view, though…and I really respect him a lot and I think he's very talented. And maybe for future or not, he's not going to take my recommendation. But I think we have to be very careful when there's…whenever there's a gun pointed at the president, just based on that position. We have got to be very sensitive to that.

Maybe I'm just overly sensitive. But I would feel the same way even if it was a Democratic (search) president or a Republican (search) president or a Libertarian (search) president, it doesn't matter.

Do you see that point?

MALKIN: I do. I take your point, Sean. But I think that in this case the Secret Service completely overreacted by investigating Michael Ramirez as if he was some crackpot off the street who was, you know, distributing hand-scrolled death threats about the president of the United States.

You know, op-ed pages are not supposed to be for Hallmark cartoon artists. They are provocative; they are controversial. And this one was. And I think the point he made was so significant and so important, which is that there is a left-wing faction in this country that is basically, figuratively, putting the president…a gun to the president's head.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Michelle, it's Alan. Good the see you.

Sean might have a point. I think the Secret Service can't be too careful sometimes.

And I want to ask about your statement that this is a known Republican cartoonist who's had pro-Bush work in the paper. Are you suggesting if this were done by a liberal cartoonist he would be more likely or should be more likely to be looked into by the Secret Service, if his politics were left of center?

MALKIN: No. I just think that, you know, given Michael Ramirez's history and background, that the reaction that the Secret Service did undertake to the cartoon was just completely...

COLMES: But aren't you implying, then, that a liberal cartoonist should be more likely to be looked into if their politics and cartoons and work does not favor the president, and then the Secret Service should be more likely to look into them?

MALKIN: No. I'm just pointing out what his background was. And certainly if it was a liberal cartoonist, and they were trying to make the same point, that would be kind of bizarre.

COLMES: But I mean, the liberal cartoonist, on the surface, if they did a piece of work like that, with something aimed…with a shot aimed at the president and they were not a supporter of the president, you know, then they would be more likely, according to your profiling, to be somebody who should be looked into by the Secret Service because of their political background?

You're letting him off the hook a little bit because he happens to be pro-Bush?

MALKIN: No, I'm not. I can't imagine what the analogy would be from the left. That wouldn't amount to some sort of threat or…I just can't imagine what the cartoon would be.

COLMES: Let me show you what happened in Ohio. There was a high school student. I'm going to put it up on the screen, what happened.

"A Bellville High School student in hot water for wearing a T-shirt depicting President Bush behind cross hairs... 'We certainly felt it was enough (of a threat) that we felt we needed to look into it,' said Kevin Bereda, resident agent in charge of the regional Secret Service office in Dayton."

I don't know if you knew this story when it happened earlier this year. A high school student wearing a T-shirt, you know, was that something the Secret Service should look into? I mean, you know...

MALKIN: Look, Alan, I kind of agree with you. And as I said, I think that the Secret Service has been overreacting in some cases and under- reacting in many others.

And that was the point of the column. Because while they're chasing after these examples of free speech, in my opinion, there are so many other security lapses which the management of the Secret Service should be worried about.

And let me just say that there are many fine men, competent men and women who are working for the Secret Service, but they have severe mismanagement problems.

When you've got stowaways being able to get on airplanes that are getting near to the president in Africa (search), you've got a problem.

When you've got nutcases who are able elude the Secret Service and security and actually physically present unscreened letters to the president…President Bush, as happened in February, you've got a problem.

HANNITY: Don't forget Michelle Malkin's best-selling book, Invasion. Michelle, it's good to see you. Thanks for being with us.

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