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Mr. GRAHAM. I think it not only would serve Mr. Holder well, but certainly the country well.
We are setting the precedent that if we do not appoint a special counsel--and I don't know these two U.S. attorneys at all. I am sure they are fine men. But the special counsel provisions that are available to the Attorney General need to be embraced because it creates an impression and, quite frankly, a legal infrastructure to put the special counsel above common politics. The precedent we are about to set in the Senate if we vote down this resolution is, in this case, we don't need to assure the public that we don't have to worry, the person involved is not going to be interfered with; that in this case we don't need the special counsel, and there is no need for it.
Well, to my colleagues on the other side, how many of them said we needed a special counsel--Peter Fitzgerald--who was not in the jurisdiction--Illinois wasn't the subject matter of the Valerie Plame leaks. It happened in Washington. When Peter Fitzgerald was chosen as a special counsel, the country said that is a good choice, chosen under the special counsel provisions, which are designed to avoid a conflict of interest.
What is the problem? For us to say we don't need one here is a precedent that will haunt the country and this body and future White Houses in a way that I think is very disturbing, I say to the Senator from Arizona, because if we needed one for Valerie Plame--allegations of outing a CIA agent--and if we needed one for Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist who had infiltrated the highest levels of the government, why would we need one here? Is this less serious?
The allegations we are talking about are breathtaking. Go read Mr. Sanger's book as he describes Operation Olympic Games. It reads like a novel about how the administration, trying to avoid an Israeli strike against the Iranian nuclear program, worked with the Israelis to create a cyber attack on the Iranian nuclear program, and how successful it was. It literally reads like a novel.
What about the situation regarding the Underwear Bomber case, a plot that was thwarted by a double agent. One could read every detail about the plot and how dangerous it was and how successful we were in stopping it from coming about. Then, how we got bin Laden and sharing information with a movie producer, but telling the world about the Pakistani doctor and how we used him to track down bin Laden.
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Mr. GRAHAM. That takes us to the bin Laden information. In the book there is a scenario where the Secretary of Defense went to the National Security Adviser, Thomas Donilon, and said, ``I have a new communication strategy for you regarding the bin Laden raid: Shut the F up.''
But the drone program, a blow-by-blow description of how the President handpicks who gets killed and who doesn't.
This is breathtaking. Certainly, it is on par with Abramoff and Plame, I think, the biggest national security compromise in generations. For our friends on the other side to say we don't need a special counsel here, but they were the ones arguing for one in the other two cases, sets a terrible precedent, and we are not going to let this happen without one heck of a fight.
Senator Obama wrote a letter with a large group of colleagues urging the Bush administration to appoint a special counsel and to have an independent congressional investigation on top of that of the Valerie Plame CIA leak case. He also joined in a letter with his Democratic colleagues urging the Bush administration to appoint a special counsel in the Jack Abramoff case because the allegations were that Mr. Abramoff had access to the highest levels of government and that extraordinary circumstances existed.
What are we talking about here? We are talking about leaks of national security done in a 45-day period that paint this President as a strong, decisive national security leader. The book questions--not just the articles--is there any reason to believe this may go to the White House? Look what happened with the Scooter Libby prosecution in the Valerie Plame case. The Chief of Staff of the Vice President of the United States eventually was held accountable for his involvement.
Is there any reason to believe that senior White House people may be involved in these leaks? Just read the articles. But this is a book review by Mr. Thomas Riggs of the book in question by Mr. Sanger. Throughout, Mr. Sanger clearly has enjoyed great access to senior White House officials, most notably to Thomas Donilon, the National Security Adviser. Mr. Donilon, in fact, is the hero of the book as well as the commentator of record on events. It goes on and on in talking about how these programs were so successful.
Here is the problem. In the House, when a program is not so successful, such as Fast and Furious, that is embarrassing to the administration. One can't literally get information with a subpoena. So we have an administration and an Attorney General's Office that is about to be held in contempt by the House for not releasing information about the Fast and Furious Program that was embarrassing. When we have programs that were successful and make the White House look strong and the President look strong, we can read about it in the paper.
All we are asking for is what Senator Obama and Senator Biden asked for in previous national security events involving corruption of the government: a special counsel to be appointed, with the powers of a special counsel,
somebody we can all buy into. If we set a precedent of not doing it here, I think it will be a huge mistake.
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Mr. GRAHAM. I guess the difference is we are supposed to trust Democratic administrations, and we can't trust Republican administrations. I guess that is the difference. It is the only difference I can glean here. Certainly, the subject matter in question is as equal to or more serious in terms of how it has damaged the Nation and in terms of the structure of a special counsel. If we thought it was necessary to make sure the Abramoff investigation could lead to high-level Republicans, which it did, and if we thought the Valerie Plame case needed a special counsel to go into the White House because that is where it went, why would we not believe it would help the country as a whole to appoint somebody we can all buy into in this case, give them the powers of a special counsel? That is what was urged before when the shoe was on the other foot.
This is a very big deal. We are talking about serious criminal activity. Apparently, the suspects are at the highest level of government, and I believe it was done for political purposes. To not appoint a special counsel would set a precedent that I think is damaging for the country and is absolutely unimaginable in terms of how someone could differentiate this case from the other two we have talked about.
To my Democratic colleagues: Don't go down this road. Don't be part of setting a precedent of not appointing a special counsel for some of the most serious national security leaks in recent memory--maybe in the history of the country--while at the same time most of my Democratic colleagues were on the record asking about a special counsel about everything and anything that happened in the Bush administration. This is not good for the country.
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