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Public Statements

Call for a Special Counsel

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CHAMBLISS. Mr. President, 2 weeks ago, I stood in this Chamber and joined with Senator McCain calling for the appointment of a Special Counsel to investigate the recent series of leaks of classified information that are so damaging to our national security. Despite the bipartisan support for a Special Counsel, the Attorney General chose instead to appoint 2 United States Attorneys who will act under his supervision and conduct separate investigations of just two of these leaks.

I believe the American people, our Intelligence Community, and our allies deserve a better response from the Attorney General and from this Administration. These leaks have violated the public trust and potentially damaged vital liaison relationships we can ill afford to lose in our fight against ongoing threats from terrorism and hostile nations.

As I understand it, one prosecutor will investigate the leak on the AQAP bomb plot; the other, the leak on STUXNET. That's a real problem. This means other leaks, including the ``kill list'' story, will not be investigated. Yesterday, the Washington Post published a story that attributed information about apparent joint U.S.-Israeli cyber efforts to a former high-ranking U.S. intelligence official. It would sure be helpful if a Special Counsel had jurisdiction to look at all of these cases.

The timing, substance, and sourcing of these stories have also raised questions about whether they came from the White House and whether there is a pattern of leaks. It's hard to imagine how two U.S. Attorneys who work for this administration will be able to investigate this aspect of the case without being perceived as biased by those who are unhappy with what they ultimately find. We need a Special Counsel who will be trusted, no matter what he finds.

I am not questioning in any way the qualifications of these U.S. Attorneys to do the jobs for which they were confirmed by this Senate. I know questions have been raised about the prior political activities of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia and whether he might be too deferential to the White House. I have no specific reason to question the capabilities or integrity of either of these men. But the very serious nature of these leaks demands an investigation that is conducted in a manner totally above reproach and without any possible inference of bias.

Unfortunately, because these U.S. Attorneys must answer to the Attorney General, they cannot conduct independent investigations. With each key decision they make--whether to subpoena a journalist, what investigative techniques should be used, what charges can be brought--they will be subject to the Attorney General and his direction. That is hardly independent.

Last week, the Attorney General testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee that appointing a U.S. Attorney was the same thing that was done in the Valerie Plame case.

I submit that was an entirely different scenario because in that case, Mr. Fitzgerald, who was a special counsel appointed, insisted on getting written confirmation that he would be truly independent from the then-acting Attorney General. He got that confirmation in writing from then-Acting Attorney General Comey.

Significantly, the Plame case involved a single leak of classified information, and was deemed serious enough to warrant an independent investigation. The former President also ordered his staff to come forward with any information they had about the source of the leak.

In this case, there have been a series of incredibly damaging leaks in articles citing ``senior Administration officials'' and White House ``aides.'' We have seen no clear instructions from this Administration for officials to come forward. This situation seems to create a greater appearance of a conflict of interest for the Attorney General than was presented in the Plame investigation and calls out for the appointment of Special Counsel.

The Attorney General also testified that he could always appoint these U.S. Attorneys as Special Counsel if they needed to investigate acts outside their jurisdictions. Others have made the argument that we have to wait to see if these U.S. Attorneys do their jobs well before appointing a Special Counsel. Neither argument makes sense to me. Why on earth would we wait?

All of these leaks should be investigated together--not separately--and they must be investigated now. The leaks are relatively recent and the trail is still somewhat fresh. But if we have to wait to see how these men measure up, or if the trail takes us to a district outside their specific jurisdiction, we run the risk of losing evidence or memories fading. Those aren't risks anyone should be willing to take.

This is not, and must not become, political. It's about finding these criminals who have jeopardized our national security and ensuring that they are brought to justice in an independent, objective, apolitical investigation.

Again, I call on the Attorney General to do now what should have been done 2 weeks ago. This series of leaks should not be treated as business as usual. As Congress considers legislative solutions to put a stop to these leaks, the administration needs to step up its response. Appointing a special counsel who can independently and comprehensively investigate all of these leaks and find who is responsible for any and all of them is the best way to restore the public trust in our government and our government officials.

I yield the floor.

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