Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I note with sadness and a great deal of concern news that the special prosecutor, Mr. Walsh, and the grand jury that has been convened by him handed down an indictment of Caspar Weinberger after 5 1/2 years of investigation at a cost of more than $30 million. I am told they finally, in a last gasp, and a last grasp at a straw to legitimize the expenditure of that kind of money, in an investigation that lasted too long, have, on the basis of what we are told are almost illegible personal notes, handed down an indictment of a person who is well known for his integrity, his honesty, his diligence, his conscientious and dedicated public service over a period of many, many years.
It is a very troubling and very sad thing.
I noticed a newspaper in my area of the country, the Commercial Appeal, in Memphis, had an editorial this morning, `Pursuer Walsh Stoops To Drag in Weinberger.' Another editorial was brought to my attention that was published in the paper in Richmond on Wednesday, June 17, a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial, entitled `Fire Walsh.'
Well, we might like to. But, I do not think we can under the law. But what the law does is expire, I am told, at the end of this year. Certainly Congress will not reauthorize the kind of authority exercised by this investigator, the kind of untouchable pinnacle of unquestionable power that is assumed by this special prosecutor under this current law. Congress needs to take a new look, a fresh look, at the unfettered power that a person in this position has.
I do not know whether there are any facts that were presented to the grand jury that would justify this indictment, but all of the circumstances make me wonder whether or not this is really a legitimate exercise of prosecutorial power. I don't think this is what this prosecutor was really asked by our Government to undertake to do, to have a result such as this, at this time, in this long drawn-out investigation. He has missed the point. He is way off target.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the editorials I referred to in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and the Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN, be printed at this point in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
. . . And so, Lawrence Walsh plunges forward into the past with his insistent regurgitation of history. Now he has indicted Caspar Weinberger, who is 74, for (primarily) having a feloniously faulty memory. This is 1992. Brer Walsh has charged Weinberger with stipulating things in 1987 about Iran/Contra in 1985--things, Walsh contends, that Weinberger knew were not true.
The truth may be, likely is, rather different--i.e., that Weinberger's memory was not so precise as it might have been regarding distant knowledge of more distant deeds. In fact, that is the testimony of such luminaries as Warren Rudman and Daniel Inouye--respectively a Republican and a Democrat--who served as the Senate's premier investigators of Iran/Contra.
Not only has Caspar Weinberger taken, and passed, a lie detector test about discrepancies in his congressional Iran/Contra testimony. Senators Rudman and Inouye also have sustained his credibility with a letter in which they (a) acknowledge the imperfection of Weinberger's memory about when he initially learned of the November, 1985, shipment of 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles from Israel to Iran, yet (b) say `what was important to us' was Weinberger's adamant opposition to the shipment, `on which [his congressional] testimony was incontrovertible.'
These latest indictments from Lawrence Walsh suggest that the matter of greatest importance to him is not so much historical truth, per se, as skewering Ronald Reagan: removing him from the pedestal of fame to the slough of infamy; rendering him a fractured plaster saint.
Walsh should be fired--should have been fired long ago, but of course now he won't be because he owes his allegiance to a Democratic Congress and this is an election year. Nothing could be better for the Democrats than for questions to be raised yet again about involvement in--better, direction of--Iran/Contra by the foremost Republican icon of the age.
Walsh embodies the Peter Principle at the bar. In well more than five years of effort, aided by staff of 44 (including 11 full-time lawyers) and spending (depending on whose estimate of taxpayer dollars you believe) between $30 million and $100 million, he has won not a single major conviction--not one. Yet he has mercilessly hounded countless individuals--exhausting their finances and ruining their reputations.
Now, in an effort to salvage his own reputation, this unconscionable man has taken out after a 74-year-old former Secretary of Defense. His congressional masters will not call him off. And dismay, even public dismay, contains no corrective power. All that is left to the public is laughter, and its ability to gasify pride. But not even that will help Caspar Weinberger.
The only solution for him, and for the nation, is for someone to fire Walsh.
The indictment of former secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger Tuesday carries the Iran-contra scandal to a new pitch of perversity.
Special counsel Lawrence Walsh was named over five years ago to prosecute any crimes connected with the Reagan administration's secret sale of arms to Iran and illegal aid to the Nicaraguan contra rebels. Now Walsh is dragging into court a leading Reagan administration critic of those very arms sales.
Weinberger, along with then secretary of State George Shultz, vigorously argued against the secret deals with Iran that President Reagan undertook in 1985 and 1986 in the hope of freeing Americans captive in Lebanon. What is Weinberger's crime, then? The secretary allegedly concealed the existence of personal notes he made in the mid-1980s. Walsh also has convinced a grand jury that there are several discrepancies between Weinberger's notes and statements he made to congressional investigators.
Perhaps there are--who are we to deny it? Apparently Walsh believes that Weinberger misled Congress about when he learned of the arms sales--and that the secretary lied again when he said he had no knowledge of Saudi Arabian financial contributions to the contras. Legally, we gather, these allegations translate into five felony counts.
We hold no brief for lying, common though equivocation is in every branch of public and private communication. But sanity demands a sense of proportion. If Weinberger was so intent on covering up some misdeed, why did he give his notes to the Library of Congress when he retired? And can this nation stop devouring its devoted public servants?
Caspar Weinberger, now 74, was Reagan's secretary of Defense for seven years. He served prior presidents as budget director and secretary of Health, Education and Welfare. While liberals disagreed with his forthright anti-communism, none doubted his patriotism and intelligence.
Fittingly, the indictment of Weinberger comes just 20 years after Watergate, the scandal that spawned the `good-government' reforms creating special prosecutors. A flurry of retrospective analyses are pointing out the mixed consequences of the post-Watergate legislation.
One deplorable consequence is the prosecutorial culture now deep rooted in Washington. It is epitomized by the out-of-control Iran-contra investigation, which is claiming another victim.
Mr. COCHRAN. Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Simon). The clerk will call the roll.
The assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
Mr. DODD. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.