The move heaps more criticism on The New York Times and other newspapers that reported last week on a secret program by the U.S. Treasury Department that tracks private bank records.
"What we're talking about is people who are leaking classified information. It's not news. It's classified information our government is using to fight terrorists," Hastert said. "Loose lips kill American people."
Hatch, ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters hours after terrorists crashed hijacked jetliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that U.S. intelligence had intercepted a telephone call from a suspect reporting to his handler that the targets in New York City and near Washington had been hit.
"They have an intercept of some information that includes people associated with [Osama] bin Laden who acknowledged a couple of targets were hit," Hatch told The Associated Press. He made similar comments to ABC News and said the information had come from officials at the CIA and FBI ...
Hatch's disclosure, with the possibility it would tip off terrorists that their communications had been compromised, left senior officials of the administration dumbfounded and angry.
"Well, that helps a lot!" exclaimed one official, who added an expletive for emphasis, after learning of Hatch's comments.