Congressional Record: July 7, 2004 (Senate)
Page S7690-S7691

                           LEAK INVESTIGATION

  Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, on a matter of utmost importance to the 
national security of the United States, I want to point out that it has 
now been almost a full year since the identity of a covert CIA agent 
was revealed in print by columnist Robert Novak. In fact, it has been 
359 days, 1 week short of a year. Next Wednesday will be 1 year 
exactly. It has been 10 months, exactly 285 days, since the Washington 
Post reported that a senior administration official said that two 
``senior White House officials called at least six Washington 
journalists and disclosed the identity of a covert CIA agent.''
  We still do not know the identity of those ``senior White House 
officials'' responsible for this destructive leak. It is simply 
astounding to me that as I stand here, the person or persons 
responsible for destroying the 20 years and millions of dollars 
invested in this agent and for jeopardizing the lives of other agents 
in the field could at this very moment still be exercising a senior 
decision making role in this administration.
  In late December, I welcomed the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald, 
the U.S. attorney for Illinois, as a special prosecutor to investigate 
this matter. I don't understand why it took almost 6 months for this 
appointment to be made, but from all reports I have heard, Mr. 
Fitzgerald has been conducting a very aggressive investigation over the 
past 190 days. But what I still don't understand is how this 
administration can claim to be cooperating with this investigation when 
the only public statement the President has made on this matter was to 

       I don't know if we're going to find out [who] the senior 
     administration official [is].

  Of course, that statement was an obvious wink and a nod to the leaker 
or leakers. The subtle message seems to be, don't worry. Sit tight. We 
can stonewall this and get it behind us.
  So while I welcome the investigation of the special prosecutor, I 
find it hard to believe that the President and the administration are 
serious about getting to the bottom of this grave breach of national 
security. If they were serious, they would have resolved this matter 
immediately, without the aid of a grand jury, subpoenas, experienced 
prosecutors, polygraphs, and, most likely by now, millions of dollars 
of expense.
  The President has never demanded answers from his White House staff. 
I remind my colleagues that the pivotal Washington Post article was 
published on a Sunday in late September. On Monday morning, the 
President could have, and should have, demanded answers from his staff. 
He could have, and should have, called his senior staff members into 
the Oval Office, put them under oath, and asked them one by one if they 
were involved in the leak of the CIA agent's name to the media. He 
could have, and should have, laid down the law and resolved this matter 
immediately. Indeed, that is exactly the way a President who truly 
wanted to identify the leakers would have acted. But President Bush 
took no such action.
  Instead, the President joked about the leak with reporters. Judging 
from his statements, he doesn't seem all that eager to find and punish 
the people responsible. He said he has no idea whether the leakers will 
ever be identified.
  The disclosure of the identity of the agent, Valerie Plame, as a 
covert CIA operative represents an extremely damaging breach of 
national security. In her 20-year career, we now know, she operated 
with ``nonofficial cover,'' meaning she had no diplomatic immunity. 
Effectively, her only defense was a painstakingly created and 
maintained cover. She worked gathering human intelligence, the kind of 
intelligence we have heard over and over since September 11, 2001, is 
so critical to fighting terrorism. She ran agents and worked closely 
with other undercover operatives and contacts. These people were also 
potentially placed in jeopardy and exposed to danger by the disclosure.
  One publication reported that after reading of her own blown cover, 
Ms. Plame immediately had to make a list of all of the contacts and 
associates of hers who could be in jeopardy. I only hope when Mr. 
Fitzgerald discovers the identity of the leaker, that person is forced 
to see this list and be confronted with the full extent of their 
betrayal--yes, betrayal--of this country and its citizens. That is what 
it is.
  More important, Mr. Fitzgerald needs to discover how the information 
on Ms. Plame's status came into the hands of these leakers, or senior 
White House officials. Is someone in the CIA responsible for 
identifying Ms. Plame as a means of discrediting her husband, former 
Ambassador Joseph Wilson? Is someone in the National Security Council 
  We cannot stop at identifying the individual or individuals who 
leaked her identity and her status to the press. We also need to 
identify the person or persons who gave this classified information to 
the leakers in the first place. This is about discovering those in our 
Government who have so little respect for the value of our intelligence 
assets that they are willing to use those assets as political weapons.
  Both the President and the Vice President have been questioned by the 
special prosecutor's office in this matter, but almost a year after the 
leak we still don't know who is responsible.
  Valerie Plame was a seasoned covert operator, we are told. She 
performed the kind of human intelligence gathering that is crucial to 
our national security. So why was her identity compromised? Why was the 
identity of a valuable intelligence asset treated so cavalierly and 
recklessly by senior officials in the White House? Was it done as part 
of an ongoing effort to discredit and retaliate against critics of the 
administration--especially anyone who dared to suggest that the 
intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq ranged from flawed to 
  Let me recap. Since 2002, the administration's top officials, 
including Vice President Cheney, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, National 
Security Adviser Rice, and the President himself, have all claimed 
Saddam Hussein was actively developing weapons of mass destruction, and 
that he tried to buy uranium from the nation of Niger. These claims 
persisted despite conflicting intelligence reports, including one by 
Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Ambassador Wilson, we later learned, is 
Valerie Plame's husband.

  Ambassador Wilson was sent on a fact finding mission by the CIA to 
Niger. After an investigation, he found no evidence to support the 
claim that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq.
  Still, the President made the Niger claim in his State of the Union 
message. A few months later, the New York Times published Mr. Wilson's 
op-ed piece, which questioned the President's assertion and indeed 
refuted the President's assertion that Niger had sold uranium to Iraq. 
It was after that--at least in this Senator's opinion--that in order to 
discredit and punish Wilson, two senior White House officials leaked to 
the press the identity of Wilson's wife and the fact that she was a 
covert CIA operative. In doing so they broke the law and undercut our 
national security in time of war.
  One day Ms. Plame was a valued human intelligence asset; the next day 
she was political fodder.
  What guarantees does any other intelligence agent have he or she 
could not be next? It is not enough to find out who leaked the names; 
we have to find out how senior White House officials were given the 
classified information about Valerie Plame's status as a covert CIA 
agent. Who did this dastardly deed? Who betrayed our country and our 
intelligence asset?
  It is not only Ms. Plame, it is all of the other CIA agents we have 
who do not have diplomatic immunity and are operating undercover, 
collecting human intelligence for the safety of

[[Page S7691]]

our country. What is there to give them assurance they are not the next 
Valerie Plame? What is there to give them the assurance they won't be 
fingered at some time in the future?
  What happened here is not only confined to Ms. Plame, bad enough as 
that is. It sends all of the wrong signals to our CIA operatives that 
they could be next. Some future administration could finger them if 
they disagree or if their husband or wife, brother or sister, or maybe 
a friend, disagreed with official administration policy; they could be 
  And what does it say to all of the contacts these people we have 
developed and nurtured over years and years, in countries where their 
lives would be at risk if they were identified as giving intelligence 
to our CIA people? What assurance do these networks have they won't be 
uncovered similarly at some time in the future?
  I have waited, and we have all waited to get answers; 359 days is too 
long. One year is too long for this to drag on. It is time for the 
administration to come clean. It is time for those who leaked Ms. 
Plame's identity to be identified and to suffer the consequences. It is 
also time to find out who gave them this highly classified information, 
how it was they came to have the name of Ms. Plame.
  Only a thorough airing of this, only prosecuting those who were 
involved, finding out who gave this name to these people in the White 
House, making sure they no longer have positions, wherever they are, in 
the National Security Council or in the CIA--only then will we send a 
clear signal we are not going to let this happen again. We must send a 
clear signal to those who would betray this country in order to get 
political retribution against somebody who disagreed with an 
administration's position. Only then will we be able to send a clear 
signal that these kinds of actions will never be tolerated.
  Mr. REID. Will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. HARKIN. Yes.
  Mr. REID. Would the Senator succinctly state what harm was done, or 
could have been done, as a result of divulging the name of this woman?
  Mr. HARKIN. I thank the Senator for his question.
  Succinctly, what was done and what more could be done--Ms. Plame had 
a number of assets and contacts, people in other parts of the world who 
were giving her information valuable to our national security. These 
people have been put at risk.
  Mr. REID. And these people, I interrupt the Senator through the 
Chair, did not know--her friends, neighbors, people around America--she 
was a spy; is that right?
  Mr. HARKIN. That is correct. As I understand it, she operated----
  Mr. REID. And the people supplying her information certainly did not 
want the world to know the information they were giving to this woman 
was information being given to a CIA operative; is that true?
  Mr. HARKIN. Absolutely. Their lives would be at risk, and their lives 
are at risk, I believe. Mr. President, I say to my friend from Nevada, 
that is the damage that has been done. But think about the damage that 
will be done in the future if we do not resolve this matter. Because 
other CIA operatives who operate without diplomatic immunity, like 
Valerie Plame, will have this cloud hanging over them. They will fear 
that they, too, could be outed in the future; that their name could be 
made public if their husband or wife or someone such as that disagreed 
with official administration policy.
  To me, that is the real damage. The leak has undermined the human 
intelligence assets we have developed over years and years. I am told 
it takes over 10 years of CIA training to develop a good covert 
operative such as Ms. Plame. There are over 10 years of training and 
seasoning and intelligence gathering before they are a solid source of 
intelligence. So when we think of that, we think about all of this 
thrown away because someone had a vendetta against Mr. Wilson, her 
  I say to my friend from Nevada, it was a vicious act, political 
intimidation and retribution, and I think it is a clear pattern that we 
have seen over 359 days of coverup, concealment, and contempt for the 
truth by this administration. It is time to resolve this issue.
  I yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that order for the 
quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask that the time under the quorum call be 
charged against Senator Lincoln to whom I, through the Chair, yielded 
15 minutes. I ask that the time be charged against her.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. I suggest the absence of a quorum.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. The clerk will call the roll.
  The legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for 
the quorum call be rescinded.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I have been told that Senator Lincoln is 
unable to be here. I yield her remaining time to the Senator from 
Illinois, Mr. Durbin.
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered. The 
Senator from Illinois is recognized pursuant to the request.
  Mr. DURBIN. I thank the Chair. Mr. President, how much time is 
remaining in morning business?
  The PRESIDENT pro tempore. There is 11 minutes 12 seconds remaining.