Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise to a question of the privileges of the House, and I offer a privileged resolution (H. Res. 477) and ask for its immediate consideration.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will report the resolution.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
Whereas, the House of Representatives in the 100th Congress, 1st Session, adopted House Resolution 12 on January 7, 1987 establishing the Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and authorizing that committee, during its continuance, to respond to judicial or other process consistent with Rule L;
Whereas, the House of Representatives in the 100th Congress, 1st Session, adopted House Resolution 330 on December 10, 1987 providing for the termination of that Select Committee on March 1, 1988 and for the transmittal of its records to the Clerk of the House for storage in the National Archives;
Whereas, the Office of Independent Counsel as part of its continuing criminal investigation of Iran/Contra matters has in a letter to the General Counsel to the Clerk dated June 1, 1992 requested certain testimonial and documentary information in connection with the June 17, 1987 deposition of former Secretary of Defense Casper W. Weinberger (taken in a closed proceeding of that Select Committee pursuant to House Resolution 12);
Whereas, by the privileges of the House, no evidence under the control of the House can, either by the mandate of process of the ordinary courts of justice or pursuant to requests by appropriate Federal or State authorities, be taken from such control except by the permission of the House: Now, therefore, be it
Resolved, That the testimonial and documentary evidence in connection with the June 17, 1987 deposition of former Secretary of Defense Casper Weinberger as outlined in the request of June 1, 1992 by the Independent Counsel, be furnished at the direction of the Clerk of the House in a manner consistent with the privileges and precedents of the House.
Mr. HAMILTON (during the reading). Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that the privileged resolution be considered as read and printed in the Record.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from California?
There was no objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The resolution states a question of privilege. The gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Hamilton] is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I am today introducing a privileged resolution. This resolution relates to certain documents created in 1987 by the House Select Committee To Investigate Covert Arms Transactions With Iran.
By adopting this resolution, the House would authorize the Clerk of the House to provide certain testimonial and documentary information to the Office of the Iran-Contra Independent Counsel, Judge Lawrence Walsh. This resolution would also authorize several former employees of the select committee to provide, by means of interviews, information which Judge Walsh believes to be necessary to the proper conduct of his inquiry.
The limited information sought by the Independent Counsel relates to a deposition given to the select committee by former Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger on June 17, 1987. The Independent Counsel has indicated that his request relates to the possibility--and I emphasize that, at this time, it is simply a matter of inquiry--that Secretary Weinberger made material false statements of intentionally withheld relevant material from the select committee. If this were the case, it would, of course, be a matter of extreme concern to the House, which must be able to have full confidence in the information provided by executive branch officials.
As Members will recall, the 100th Congress created the select committee to conduct an investigation into the Iran-Contra affair. I served as the chairman of the select committee.
The select committee completed its work and reported its finding and recommendations to the House in November 1987. Upon completion of its work, the House, by adoption of House Resolution 330 of the 100th Congress, made specific provision for the retirement and retrieval of the records of the select committee.
The select committee and the House were aware that certain information obtained during the congressional investigation might be material and relevant to the parallel criminal investigation being conducted by the Independent Counsel. Judge Walsh had been appointed Independent Counsel by the court of appeals upon the application of then-Attorney General Edwin Meese.
When the select committee concluded its work, it decided to provide a variety of materials to Judge Walsh. Since that time, the Independent Counsel has made several requests for information. The relevant committees of the House--Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, or Armed Services--have responded affirmatively to these requests.
Today we are faced with an unusual request. The information now sought by Judge Walsh has been retired by the House and is under the legal control of the House and its Clerk. The requested information is not under the control of any active committee. The Parliamentarian has advised--and the Speaker and the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group have unanimously determined--that the proper procedure for us to follow is for the House to adopt a resolution authorizing the provision of this information to the Independent Counsel.
What information is the Independent Counsel requesting?
The Independent Counsel seeks to interview four former staff members of the select committee, as well as the House stenographer who transcribed Secretary Weinberger's deposition. In addition, the Independent Counsel seeks copies of any documents which evidence certain technical matters relating to the deposition, the transcript of which was made public by the select committee.
For example, the Independent Counsel desires to learn whether the deposition transcript was formally filed with the select committee, whether any errata sheet was filed, who administered the oath to Secretary Weinberger, and whether a copy of the rules of the select committee and its organic resolution were provided to Secretary Weinberger or his representatives. Judge Walsh and his staff have indicated that this information might have certain technical evidentiary value. The information requested is described in further detail in the Independent Counsel's letter and attached memorandum of June 1, 1992, which have been made a part of the record.
The Independent Counsel's letter of May 21, 1992, indicates that they believe, and I quote:
The requested information is necessary to assist us in determining whether Secretary Weinberger made material false statements to the House Select Committee to Investigate Covert Arms Transactions with Iran, and whether relevant material, requested by the committee, was intentionally withheld.
Mr. Speaker, it is not the proper role of the House to determine whether or not criminal charges are justified or should be brought. Our system places that responsibility with the prosecutor, in this case the Independent Counsel.
A decision to respond favorably to Judge Walsh's request would not, in any way, signify that the House or its Members have taken a position on the question of Secretary Weinberger's truthfulness or responsiveness during his testimony to the select committee. Adoption of this resolution simply means that the House will honor the narrowly drawn request of the Independent Counsel, who has stated that the information he seeks is necessary to the proper conduct of his investigation.
Adoption of this resolution also would not signify an endorsement of the prosecutorial decisions made by the Independent Counsel. Members may have differing views on the efficacy of the Independent Counsel statute or its operation in regard to this investigation. Those questions are for other times or other places.
Our focus today is on how to respond to the narrow request of Judge Walsh. He has stated that he believes that the interest of justice can best be served by making this information available. The bipartisan leadership of the House and of the select committee have, in consultation with counsel to the House, reviewed this request. They have reached the conclusion that authorizing the provision of this information is consistent with the precedents and privileges of the House.
I would like to note one further step which the bipartisan leadership has taken. House counsel has been instructed to provide to Secretary Weinberger an appropriate description of the nature and extent of documentary materials that are provided pursuant to this resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I believe we have a responsibility to respond favorably to the Independent Counsel's request for information. I ask the House to adopt this privileged resolution.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to put in the Record the letter from the Office of Independent Counsel dated June 1, 1992, and addressed to Mr. Steven R. Ross, the general counsel to the Clerk, United States House of Representatives.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Murtha). Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?
Mr. WALKER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I do so to find out: the letter that I have before me that was directed to the House counsel, Mr. Ross, also had an addendum to it. Is that addendum also going to be put in the Record at this point? It is labeled `Memorandum to Steve Ross from Craig Gillen.'
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield, yes. I thank the gentleman for pointing that out. It is entitled `Memorandum,' and it should also be included in the Record, and I ask that that be included in my unanimous consent request.
Mr. WALKER. Further reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I would ask a question. The memorandum does list virtually all of the materials being asked for by the special counsel so that in the Record will appear, for the purposes of Secretary Weinberger's information, all of the materials that have been requested from the House; is that correct?
Mr. HAMILTON. That is my understanding. It does list all of those materials.
Mr. WALKER. Further reserving the right to object, just to clarify one other point, the gentleman indicated in the resolution that this material will be transmitted to the special counsel by the Clerk. That is what the resolution, I think, reads. Is there anybody that will have an obligation to transmit this to Secretary Weinberger?
Mr. HAMILTON. Not under the terms of the resolution. But I think there has been an agreement to which I referred in my comments, an agreement by the bipartisan leadership of the House to instruct the House counsel to provide to Secretary Weinberger an appropriate description of the nature and the extent of the documentary evidence that is being supplied pursuant to this resolution.
Mr. WALKER. Further reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, my understanding is the Clerk will transmit the materials specified in the resolution or specified by the special counsel to the special counsel, but it will be the job of the House counsel to transmit this information to Secretary Weinberger; is that correct?
Mr. HAMILTON. The gentleman is correct.
Mr. WALKER. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, reserving the right to object, I just have three quick questions. How long has the Iran-Contra investigation been going on by Judge Walsh; how much has it cost thus far; how much more is it going to cost; and how much more are we going to have to endure before this thing comes to a conclusion?
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman will yield, I am not able to respond to the gentleman with respect to those facts. I do not have them. I do not know the cost. I have not been supplied that information.
The independent counsel was appointed by Attorney General Meese. I thought I had the date, but I do not have the date in front of me. It was 1987.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Further reserving the right to object Mr. Speaker, I was informed, and I think these figures are fairly accurate, the investigation has been going on now for 5 years at a cost of close to $40 million of American taxpayer dollars. It just seems to be never-ending, and it is like a search-and-destroy mission, and you are going after everybody. And I just wonder when is this going to end? The American people, I think, are tired of this, and I think that many Members of Congress would like to see it come to a conclusion.
Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my reservation of objection.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from Indiana?
There was no objection.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, the materials to which I referred are as follows:
Office of Independent Counsel,
Washington, DC, June 1, 1992.
Re June 17, 1987, Deposition of Caspar W. Weinberger.
Steven R. Ross, Esq.,
General Counsel to the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives, The Capitol, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Ross: Please find enclosed a memorandum entitled Priorities of OIC for Weinberger Requests.
This memorandum lists our present requests for documents and interviews regarding our investigation of former Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger.
We have prioritized our requests into three categories:
(1) material necessary to establish essential elements of a possible crime;
(2) material helpful to establishing essential elements; and
(3) material relevant to investigative leads.
This priority listing is essentially a rearrangement of our earlier requests listed in my May 21, 1992 letter to you; however, we have substantially narrowed the scope of our prior request listed in paragraph 14 of my May 21st letter.
I hope this will be useful in expediting our request.
In addition to identifying the reporter who prepared the transcript of Secretary Weinberger's June 17, 1987 deposition, we request an opportunity to interview the reporter as well.
I thank you in advance for your attention to our requests.
Very truly yours,
Craig A. Gillen,
Deputy Independent Counsel.
Material necessary to establish essential elements:
(1) Please determine whether the transcript of Secretary Weinberger's deposition testimony was filed with the Clerk and, if so, please produce copies of each document reporting such filing.
(2) Please determine whether the Select Committee's jurisdiction, mandate and/or areas of material interest were contracted or altered in any way during the life of that Committee.
(3) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf (including but not limited to Department of Defense (DoD) General Counsel H. Lawrence Garrett, III) reviewed the transcript of Secretary Weinberger's deposition testimony before it was filed and, if so, please produce copies of each document, such as any errata sheet, that indicates such review.
(4) Please identify the reporter(s) who prepared the transcript of Secretary Weinberger's June 17, 1987, deposition.
(5) Please determine whether an oath was administered (the record refers to Secretary Weinberger having been `previously sworn') and, if so, what oath and by whom.
Material helpful to establish elements:
(1) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf ever signed the transcript of his deposition testimony and, if so, please produce copies of each document containing such signature.
(2) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf
received a notice of deposition and, if so, please produce copies of each written notice of deposition and each document reporting that such notice was given.
(3) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf was given a copy of House Resolution 12 (creating the Select Committee) and/or any rules of the Select Committee, and, if so, please produce copies of each document reporting the transmission of such material.
(4) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf was advised that his deposition testimony would be deemed to have been given in the District of Columbia and, if so, please produce copies of each document reporting such advice.
(5) Please determine whether Secretary Weinberger and/or any representative acting in his behalf was advised that his deposition testimony was constructively being given to the House Select Committee and, if so, please produce copies of each document reporting such advice.
(6) Please determine whether any guidelines or rules applied to the taking of depositions by representatives of the Select Committee and, if so, please produce copies of each document reporting guidelines or rules.
Material relevant to investigative leads:
(1) Please provide access to House Select Committee files and documents that relate to any Committee request (either written or verbal) to the Department of Defense, and responses thereto, regarding production of any notes, diaries, memoranda, calendars, or marginialia that was produced by or in the possession of Caspar W. Weinberger. This request includes any attorney or investigator notes or memoranda concerning communications with Caspar W. Weinberger, Larry Garrett, Ed Shapiro, Colonel James Lemon, and Colonel William Matz regarding the production of any of the above-listed materials.
(2) Please assist us in scheduling interviews at mutually convenient times with the following individuals:
a. Robert W. Genzman (now United States Attorney in Tampa, Florida).
b. Ellen P. Rayner (now employed by the House Government Operations Committee).
c. Joseph P. Saba.
d. Roger L. Kruezer.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. McCollum].
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise to support the resolution, but somewhat reluctantly, because, quite frankly, the whole issue of this Iran-Contra investigation, like the gentleman from Indiana just pointed out, bothers me a great deal. I recall the abuses that appear to have occurred in the Independent Counsel Act for some time now, that Mr. Walsh has been engaged in this Iran-Contra investigation, if that is what it is called.
I do not think there is a better example anywhere in the time of the history of the Independent Counsel Act when we have had a better example of why this act should not be here and why it should be ended. The fact of the matter is that Mr. Walsh has been doing this for over 5 years, and during that 5-year period of time, he has spent about $40 million, to kind of respond to what the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton] was asking a minute ago, and that effort was supposed to find criminal wrongdoing in the Iran-Contra affair. I do not see where he has found anything, anybody who has been guilty where the guilty charges have been sustained on appeal for anything, and even those things he has found somebody guilty of had nothing to do with the original theory of the case, conspiracy of some sort that was supposedly maybe out there to wrongfully circumvent the Boland amendment and to provide assistance to the Nicaraguan Contras due to arms sales, et cetera, and so on, with Iran. None of that has ever borne any fruit, and there is no indication that anything like that is ever going to bear any fruit, because the record is pretty clear from both our hearings way back in 1987 on which the gentleman from Indiana and I served as well as the time that Mr. Walsh has been fiddling around looking for people to indict and convict, that the Boland amendment applied to intelligence agencies and was a prohibition on the U.S. Government to supporting them during a certain period of time through the intelligence agencies of our country, not the White House, not Oliver North, not Poindexter, et cetera, et cetera.
What we have been left with, what Walsh has been seeking to get indictments on, have been a series of things related to something hither or yon, a shredding of a document or, in the case of, I guess, Caspar Weinberger, a question of whether or not he committed perjury in the process of this whole involvement with the Iran-Contra committee.
I understand that this is not a light matter, and I certainly think if he perjured himself before Congress, that is one thing, and it probably should be investigated, and I am all for giving the records over. But as I understand this whole process, it does not look to me like there is a shred of evidence there that is likely to come forward from any of this that would indicate there was such a perjury. Apparently he made a misstatement, or allegedly did, of a fact during a deposition of whether he kept notes of some sort.
But Caspar Weinberger, as Secretary of Defense,was the one person in the administration who apparently opposed whatever the activities were there were so criticized during that period of time. I think it highly unlikely there will ever be any proof out there or anything that would even remotely resemble an act that would show criminal conduct of any sort to intentionally mislead Congress or perjure himself before us. It just does not look to me like that is on the record from what is available.
Mr. Speaker, if this matter were before Congress, I do not think we would even be here debating it today. Mr. Walsh has carried on his activities, he has gone wild with this process, and I tell you what is really wrong here, the Independent Counsel Act, the Independent Counsel Act is too open-ended. There is nobody to oversee the independent counsel.
The independent prosecutor who is out there, once he is established, does not have an end. There is no end to this. The only way he could be taken out of office is by the Attorney General determining that he has, indeed, broken faith, and for good cause remove him from office, something that is just not going to happen.
The only other way that his job ends is when some court concludes that there is nothing more to investigate. That is not going to happen as long as you keep digging up this straw or that straw or looking under this hat or that hat.
This counsel act is wrong in the sense it has no oversight and no control. You go back to the history of it, you can see a lot of Members of Congress, when it was established, pointed the fact out that it was wrong, and that we had the power in the Attorney General to have an independent prosecutor. There was one for the Teapot Dome scandals, and there have been numerous independent prosecutors by the executive branch, and
there was no real history or need for this, but now we have got it. It has been operating. Walsh has spent $40 million. I think we probably ought to ask him for a refund based on his performance out there right now.
It seems to me that the victims of this case are fast becoming the targets and the subjects of this investigation.
The Congress is not the victim. The American public is the victim. Instead, the people are hounded by an independent counsel desperate to bring an indictment before the statute of limitations runs out which it will on several of these matters, including this one, in the next month or so.
I will support the resolution, but Mr. Walsh should hear the message from this body that we are tired of the floundering around that he has been doing and the wasting of taxpayers' money.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston].
(Mr. LIVINGSTON asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time.
While I rise to support the resolution, Mr. Speaker, I must also rise to protest this newest chapter in an unproductive and now disgraceful saga.
Mr. Speaker, Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh is at it again, unfazed by the fact that he has wasted an estimated $40 million in taxpayers' money; unfazed by admonitions from Federal courts that he was conducting political trials; unfazed by having his convictions, that he did obtain, being overturned; unfazed by being an absolute laughingstock in the legal community and not abiding by simple rules that freshman criminal law students recognize to be the law of the land. Well, Mr. Walsh is now unfazed by virtually everything--he now seems hell bent on indicting former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on grounds flimsier than gossamer a threat.
Amazingly, Mr. Walsh is now going after a man who, from the very beginning, opposed the Iran-Contra deal. Not only was Caspar Weinberger not involved in Iran-Contra, he actually at one point called it flat out absurd.
But Mr. Walsh, desperate for an excuse to continue sucking money from the American taxpayer, is now going after a man whose stalwart policies helped the United States win the cold war against communism.
Mr. Walsh has had 5 years to find some wrongdoing by Mr. Weinberger and other members of the administration, and I find it very curious that he is suddenly claiming that he has found enough evidence now, 2 weeks before the statute of limitations sets in on Caspar Weinberber, that he comes before us with the need for this additional information. It is clearly a move grounded more in politics than in law, but that is not anything new for Mr. Walsh.
Even one of his former assistants, one who shared Walsh's liberal convictions, wrote a book discrediting the investigation as being politically motivated. Jeffrey Toobin, the former assistant, wrote that prosecutors like Walsh sometimes criminalize, and I quote, `honest disagreements, policy tussles and close calls, and in so doing jeopardizes the whole edifice of the law.'
Members of the House, Lawrence Walsh has been on the Federal payroll longer than 26 U.S. Presidents. In that time he has been looking in vain for blood, trying desperately to find a reason to continue sucking the taxpayer dry.
He is a leech, and he should be cut off at the lifeline, no more subpoena power, no more money. Let us end this farce.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I wanted to correct a statement I made erroneously a moment ago. I informed, and I think it was in answer to the gentleman from Indiana [Mr. Burton], that Mr. Walsh had been appointed in 1987. That is not correct. He was appointed in December of 1986.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Bonior], the distinguished majority whip.
Mr. BONIOR. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, my colleague, for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise at this rather late hour this evening to respond to some of the comments that have been made.
I listened with interest as some of my colleagues on the Republican side of the aisle have charged that Mr. Walsh has gone `wild'; `it is a disgraceful saga.'
`He is a leech.'
Mr. Speaker, to hear some of my Republican colleagues, the Independent Counsel is the real criminal here.
I think some of our friends have forgotten what really happened. The Independent Counsel did not sell weapons to the ayatollah. It was Ronald Reagan.
The Independent Counsel did not launder proceeds through drug runners and arms dealers. That was the Republican White House.
The Independent Counsel did not illegally divert funds to the Contras. That was the Reagan administration.
And most importantly, Mr. Speaker, the Independent Counsel did not lie to the American people to cover up these crimes. That was Elliot Abrams, the Assistant Secretary of State, and Clare George, the Deputy
Director of the CIA, and Allan Feirs, the head of the CIA Contra Task Force, and on an on.
Now, so far the Independent Counsel's work has resulted in 10 criminal convictions, including felony convictions, for perjury, for obstructing Congress, for theft of Government property, for conspiracy to defraud the United States, and the list goes on and on. That is what really happened; but you on this side of the aisle rise and you cheer and you blame the Independent Counsel.
Mr. Speaker, Lawrence Walsh is not the problem here. He did not cause the Iran-Contra scandal. If the Reagan administration had not committed the crimes, and if they had not lied under oath to cover up these crimes, we would not need an Independent Counsel or a resolution like this one.
We need to put the responsibility where it belongs and stop shifting the focus.
And why do my colleagues over here on this side of the aisle keep complaining about this investigation? Do you not want to know the truth?
You keep talking about the cost of the Independent Counsel. I agree. It has been expensive. The American people should not have to pay millions of dollars to get to the bottom of a scandal. But why is the investigation so expensive? Because the Reagan administration officials continue to obstruct this process.
Yes, Mr. Speaker, it costs money and it takes time to get to the truth when the key figures are determined to withhold necessary information. But my Republican colleagues are forgetting the real cost of the Iran-Contra scandal.
What about the cost of Ronald Reagan's misguided war in Nicaragua where tens of thousands of people died and billions of United States tax dollars were wasted in the pursuit of an ideological fantasy?
What about the cost of the integrity of the Constitution? What about the cost to the Constitution when the administration flagrantly lied to the American people?
Now we are finding out about another coverup on this side of the aisle. This time it is the Bush administration's secret coddling of Saddam Hussein right up until the time we invaded Kuwait.
When will the deception end? That is the real cost of 12 years of Republican leadership, my friends, and the American people are still paying for it.
Mr. Speaker, the Iran-Contra scandal is a sad chapter in our history, as is this discussion tonight, because of the continued refusal of you on this side of the aisle to understand that lying to your Government, lying to the American people, causes an irrefutable harm to the Constitution of the United States, and the only way to get to the bottom of this is to let the Independent Counsel do his job.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Dornan.]
Mr. DORNAN of California. Mr. Speaker, I want to say to my distinguished friend, I have been guilty of a little yelling here, too, at some of the rewriting of history.
Today is the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Midway. At 3:30 in the afternoon today, Washington time, was when torpedo bomber pilots all gave their lives throwing the Japanese fighters down on the deck, and then came the dauntless dive bombers, fairly new to the fleet, and all the squadron commanders, McCloskey, Lesley, all over 40 years of age, these were career soldiers who turned the war in the Pacific 50 years ago this afternoon.
We were sort of united against an enemy then.
In this discussion tonight, with all the mistakes that were made, and I told Colonel North
in front of room 227, `Don't cut any corners, Colonel. As soon as Tip O'Neill gives us a vote, we are going to win.' And when we did get that vote in June 1986, right during this contentious period, we won $100 million for the Contra freedom fighters, $30 million of it in what we termed lethal aid.
I think there were some corners cut. There were lots of hurtful things done, but nothing was more obnoxious, more arrogant, more disgraceful, than Members of this Chamber going down into enemy country, into the offices of the Communist thugs who were torturing people to death in 16 concentration camps all around Nicaragua at that moment, kicking out our State Department people and conspiring with the Communist enemy on how to win a victory for communism north of the Panama Canal in the small little nation of Nicaragua.
When I went down--yes, consorting with the enemy, giving them public relations lessons. Telling them why not go to Moscow, after we had just given them a victory in this House by many of the Members, one of whom spoke here tonight. This was a disgraceful page in history.
There may be a coverup of what has happened with Members in the South consorting with the enemy and that is worse than anything Walsh has been able to uncover.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, would the gentleman be willing to yield to us over here, for the purpose of my being able to provide some time, maybe 10 minutes or something? Would that be appropriate?
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 10 minutes to the gentleman from Florida [Mr. McCollum] for purposes of debate only.
Mr. McCOLLUM. And I might divide that time up among Members over here and yield to myself as well?
Mr. HAMILTON. That is a decision the Chair would have to make.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Would that be appropriate, Mr. Speaker?
The SPEAKER pro tempore. (Mr. Murtha). Without objection, the gentleman from Florida may be recognized for purposes of debate only and to divide the time among
the Members on the Republican side.
There was no objection.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, we have had quite a little debate here that the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Bonior] just engaged us in, which went far afield from what I had intended to discuss here today on the Independent Counsel question and on this request, but it brings back memories of what happened about 5 or 6 years ago when we got involved with this.
In 1987, when the Iran-Contra hearings took place, we had a very orderly process. The gentleman from Indiana, I was proud to serve under him in that committee. We had quite a lengthy investigation. We had differences of opinion. We wrote opinions and we had dissent and it was a very orderly process, but out of all of that I do not think any of us concluded the kind of harsh judgment that the gentleman from Michigan [Mr. Bonior] just put on the Reagan administration with respect to this or anyone else. I do not think the record bears that out.
To try to take all the emotion out of it, the fact remains that when you look at Iran-Contra in history, you are going to see something very simple. You are going to see that a President of the United States and his folks wanted to help the Nicaragua Contras overcome communism, overcome a tyrannical regime and at a point in time in history the United States Congress cut off the funding and made a decision not to allow any support to go down there from the Intelligence Agencies through what was known as the Boland amendment.
The end product of all that was that many of us wanted to seek assistance for the Contras anyway through other means, and there were plenty of other means.
I remember in the dissenting opinions that I helped write, what I put into that report personally as a member of that committee, I pointed out the fact that I would have preferred if the President had gone through the process of calling on the American people by saying, `I opened a bank account at the First National Bank of Chicago and I want you all to contribute and we will send whatever you give and whatever you send to us down there.'
I think that would have been a perfectly smart and legitimate thing for him to have done.
I do not think, frankly, that what happened at any point in time that Oliver North or anybody else did to aid the Contras was in any way in contravention of the Boland amendment. We are not here tonight to redebate Iran-Contra; but the point I want to make before I yield, and I am going to yield to some of my colleagues over here, is that what happened out of all this became a very politicized thing between Democrats and Republicans.
In the last analysis, though, there was never any criminal activity, never any proof of violating the so-called Boland amendment, nothing ever proven.
The point is that the independent counsel, Mr. Walsh, has never gotten to first base in any of his prosecutions with claims that that very fundamental thing occurred, never. All the convictions, even those that were overturned of Colonel North, and they have been overturned as we know, were based upon other extraneous material and things that came along, incidents that occurred on the trial, but having nothing to do with the fundamental allegations that were in my judgment highly political throughout that process.
And tonight, to have the gentleman from Michigan slam the Reagan administration Republicans on the basis of lies, on the basis of somehow horrible maneuvering to assist the Contras in some presumably illegal fashion is just a total distortion of history. And I would urge my colleague to think about it that way.
Mr. Speaker, at this point I have a couple of requests, and I will yield 1 minute to the gentleman from Pennsylvania.
Mr. WALKER. I thank the gentleman for yielding just to ask him a question. The relevant question before us tonight is an investigation of Caspar Weinberger. In the deliberations done by the Iran-Contra committee on which the gentleman served, was there ever any determination by the Iran-Contra committee that Caspar Weinberger did anything wrong in the course of the Iran-Contra matter?
Mr. McCOLLUM. No, not one scintilla or hint of that in anything we reported or found.
Mr. WALKER. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to the gentleman from Louisiana [Mr. Livingston].
Mr. LIVINGSTON. I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to support the gentleman's statement because I agree wholeheartedly with it.
I also point out that I have spoken with people who have been prosecuted throughout this episode, and I will tell the gentleman that it is their contention that they were told by this special prosecutor that if they did not plead guilty to the charges with which they were faced, whether they be misdemeanors or lesser felonies, that they would spend the rest of their life defending themselves and spend their fortune paying lawyers to defend them in court.
It seems to me that if once you get to a point in America where people, innocent people, realize that if they do not plead guilty to misdemeanors, that their entire fortunes and their entire life's work is on the line and that they may be ruined for the rest of their lives, then frankly it seems to me that we are running into a situation where the rights of individuals are transgressed in total contravention of the U.S. Constitution. And it worries me.
It worries me greatly that we have gone way too far with this special prosecutor, with Mr. Walsh, who is now taking out his vendetta against Casper Weinberger, one of the main leaders of the Reagan administration who was against the Iran-Contra affair.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Hunter].
(Mr. HUNTER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. HUNTER. Mr. Speaker, this is a system of checks and balances. The legislative, judicial, and executive branches; sometimes we lose our balance.
I want to direct my remarks to my friend, the majority whip. I would think certainly especially Members of this House would now have a sensitivity for the fact that we conduct our legislative business in a rough-and-tumble area in which there are a lot of bruises and bangs. But for our Government to function properly, there has to be a place for the reservation of some honor, there has to be a reservation of a refuge where our families can live a good life, a decent life, without having to be worried constantly about governmental prosecutorial action because someone in the legislative, judicial, or executive branch has lost their sense of balance.
Now, we all know that the initial undertakings of Mr. Walsh were not directed at Caspar Weinberger, or whether or not somebody forgot to read his notes before he went to a hearing or whether or not he took notes when he went to a hearing. And I understand that that is now the thrust, this last residue of prosecutorial material Mr. Walsh is concentrating on, not as the majority whip said whether or not there were arms sales involved, involving Mr. Weinberger, not whether or not there were country-to-country negotiations that were illegal involving Mr. Weinberger. Nobody alleges that.
But now we are down to the bottom of the process, and we are down to a prosecutor that I think Mr. Livingston has summed up very effectively, as a part of the Government, someone who has lost his balance.
We are a check on that loss of balance, and it is time for us to act. And if you look at the record and you look at all of the enormous resources that went into the prosecution of Ollie North, if you look at the enormous resources we dedicated to prosecuting Mr. North and we came up ultimately, I think, with the fact that he had a home security system to protect his family from terrorists; that may have been prosecutorial ammunition for Mr. Walsh. It was not the intent of the American people to spend that kind of money on that kind of a prosecution on that kind of a man.
And I think we do our system real harm when we lose this sight of the importance of us now exercising a check on this division of the executive branch, Mr. Walsh.
Mr. Walsh has lost his balance with respect to this particular prosecution. There is no substantive material left. It is time for him to dissolve the empire and do what is very difficult for all of us to do in Government, and that is to give it up, give up that power and go home.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, at this time, if it is appropriate, I would like to reserve the 2 minutes' time that I believe I have left from the 10 minutes. If there are any more speakers that the gentleman from Indiana has--I did not expect that we would get into the debate this way tonight, but we have. If the gentleman from Indiana does not have other speakers and if it is appropriate, I would be glad to consume those remaining 2 minutes.
Mr. HAMILTON. The gentleman may proceed with the remaining 2 minutes. I have no more remaining speakers.
Mr. McCOLLUM. I thank the gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute of the 2 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox].
Mr. COX of California. I thank the gentleman for yielding.
Mr. Speaker, I rise for a particular purpose, to pick more than a nit with one of the preamble clauses in this resolution. It says,
Whereas, by the privileges of the House, no evidence under the control of the House can, either by the mandate of process of the ordinary course of justice or pursuant to requests by appropriate Federal or State authorities, be taken from such control except by the permission of the House; * * *
In other words, we are to sign onto a legal position which is wholly without basis that this Congress is above the law.
I think the purpose of, the lesson of Watergate, is that no man, including the President of the United States, is above the law.
When I had the opportunity to serve as legal counsel in the White House, we took pains to make sure that, as a matter of comity, as a matter of cooperation, all evidence was provided in any case such as this.
The Congress, likewise, ought not to assert that it is above the law. And I think that this is extraneous matter in a `whereas' clause. But I just point out to my colleagues that we must not sign onto a position that the Congress is above the law and immune to the subpoenas of our courts.
Mr. McCOLLUM. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the remaining minute. In that time I want to conclude by simply saying I want to make one final point, and make it clear to everybody that I am not, and I do not think Members on our side generally are opposing this resolution. We do need to make sure that the record is clear. If the special prosecutor wants to have this information from the Iran-Contra hearing files, he is certainly welcome to it. There are no secrets. There is nothing to be hidden. None of us believes that Caspar Weinberger committed any offenses, and we are happy to have the record demonstrate that. But it is somewhat of a fishing expedition. A lot of our Members think it is pretty darn broad. Above all else, we think this thing has gone on too far. It is very politicized. Unfortunately so. Way beyond the time that one would have imagined that one would imagine real meaningful results could be given. And if we are going to get any convictions of any meaning out of $40 million that has been spent so far, it would have been clear to the American public long before now; we would have had those convictions, those indictments and they would have been upheld. There have not been those kind of results. There are not going to be. Mr. Walsh is a prime example of an independent counsel run wild, and an independent counsel statute that simply ought not to be this way.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.
The previous question was ordered.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Murtha). The question is on the resolution.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Murtha). Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Illinois [Mrs. Collins] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Mrs. COLLINS of Illinois addressed the House. Her remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Walker] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Mr. WALKER addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Ohio [Ms. Kaptur] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Ms. KAPTUR addressed the House. Her remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Barton] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Mr. BARTON of Texas addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas [Mr. Edwards] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Mr. EDWARDS of Texas addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. Mazzoli] is recognized for 5 minutes.
[Mr. MAZZOLI addressed the House. His remarks will appear hereafter in the Extensions of Remarks.]