[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 88 (Tuesday, June 12, 2012)]
[Pages S3931-S3945]

                           National Security

  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, Senator Graham and I know there are others 
who would like to come to the floor on the issue of the almost 
unprecedented release of information which directly affects our 
national security--in fact, the most important programs in which we are 
engaged, including the use of drones and our counterterrorism 
activities, and, of course, the highly classified cyber attacks that 
have been made on the Iranians in order to prevent them from achieving 
their goal of building nuclear weapons.
  I can't think of any time that I have seen such breaches of ongoing 
national security programs as has been the case here. The damage to our 
national security has been articulated by many both inside and outside 
of the administration, including the most damaging that we have seen. 
Our Director of National Intelligence said that it is the worst he has 
seen in his 30 years of service in the area of intelligence. All of the

[[Page S3940]]

ranking and chair members of the Intelligence Committee, Armed Services 
Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, and Homeland Security Committee 
have described in the strongest terms what damage has been done by 
these ``leaks.''
  Among the sources that the authors of these publications list are 
``administration officials'' and ``senior officials''; ``senior aides'' 
to the President; ``members of the President's national security team 
who were in the [White House Situation Room] during key discussions''; 
an official ``who requested anonymity to speak about what is still a 
classified program''--I am quoting all of these from the public cases; 
``current . . . American officials . . . [who would not] allow their 
names to be used because the effort remains highly classified, and 
parts of it continue to this day''; several sources who would be 
``fired'' for what they divulged--presumably because what they divulged 
was classified or otherwise very sensitive.
  One author notes:

       [O]ver the course of 2009, more and more people inside the 
     Obama White House were being `read into' a [particular 
     secret, compartmentalized] cyber program [previously known 
     only by an extremely tight group of top intelligence, 
     military and White House officials], even those not directly 
     involved. As the reports from the latest iteration of the bug 

  Talking about the cyber attack on Iran--

     meetings were held to assess what kind of damage had been 
     done, and the room got more and more crowded.

  Some of the sources in these publications specifically refused to be 
identified because what they were talking about related to classified 
programs or ongoing programs. One of the authors specifically observed 
that some of his sources would be horrified if their identities were 
  As always with this leaking, which goes on in this town, although not 
at the level I have ever seen, I think we need to ask ourselves first 
who benefits--certainly not our national security or our military 
intelligence professionals or our partners abroad who are more exposed 
as a result of these leaks. I think to answer the question of who 
benefits, we have to look at the totality of circumstances. In this 
case, the publications came out closely together in time. They involved 
the participation, according to those publications, of administration 
officials. The overall impression left by these publications is very 
favorable to the President of the United States.
  So here we are with a very serious breach of national security--and 
in the view of some, the most serious in recent history--and it clearly 
cries out for the appointment of a special counsel.
  I would remind my colleagues and my friend from South Carolina will 
remind our colleagues that when the Valerie Plame investigation was 
going on, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle argued 
strenuously for the appointment of a special counsel at that time. 
Later on, I will read some of their direct quotes.
  It is obviously one of the highest breaches of security this country 
has ever seen because of ongoing operations that are taking place. By 
the way, our friends and allies, especially the Israelis, who have been 
compromised on the Stuxnet operation, the virus in the Iranian nuclear 
program, of course, feel betrayed.
  Now, can I finally say that I understand our colleague and 
chairperson of the Intelligence Committee is going to come over to 
object to our motion for the appointment of a special counsel. It is 
the same special counsel who was appointed at other times in our 
history, and ahead of her appearance after the statements she made 
about how serious these breaches of intelligence were. It is a bit 
puzzling why she should object to the appointment of a special counsel.

  I ask my colleague from South Carolina--to place two outstanding 
individuals and prosecutors to investigate still places them under the 
authority of the Attorney General of the United States. The Attorney 
General of the United States is under severe scrutiny in the House of 
Representatives. The Attorney General of the United States may be cited 
for contempt of Congress over the Fast and Furious gunrunning-to-Mexico 
issue which also resulted, by the way, in the death of a brave young 
Border Patrolman, Brian Terry, in my own State, who was killed by one 
of these weapons. That is how serious it is.
  I would think Mr. Holder, for his own benefit, would seek the 
appointment of a special counsel, and I ask that of my friend from 
South Carolina.
  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.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, could I add revealing the name of Seal 
Team 6.
  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 
  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.

[[Page S3941]]

  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.

  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, wouldn't my colleague agree that one of 
the most revealing aspects of this entire issue from program to program 
that leads to enormous suspicion would be that probably the most 
respected Member of the President's Cabinet who stayed over from the 
Bush administration, Secretary Gates, was so agitated by the revelation 
of information about the bin Laden raid that he came over to the White 
House and said to the President's National Security Adviser that he had 
a ``new communication strategy.'' He responded by saying to the 
National Security Adviser, ``Shut the F up.'' That is a devastating 
comment and leads one to the suspicion that things were done improperly 
in the revelation of these most important and sensitive programs that 
were being carried out and are ongoing to this day.
  So I ask my colleague, what is the difference between the Biden-
Schumer-Levin-Daschle letter to President Bush in 2003 where they 
called for the appointment of a special counsel--Vice President Biden--
and how the White House should handle Libby? I think they should 
appoint a special prosecutor. In 2003, then-Senator Biden called for a 
special counsel with 34 Senators, and then-Senator Obama requested the 
appointment of a special counsel to lead the Abramoff case.
  I was involved heavily initially with the Abramoff case, and I can 
tell my colleagues even though there was severe corruption, there was 
certainly nothing as far as a breach of national security is concerned. 
Yet they needed a special counsel, according to then-Senator Obama, to 
investigate Abramoff but not this serious consequence.
  So I guess my unanimous consent request for this resolution will be 
objected to. But the fact is, we need a special counsel because the 
American people need to know. I do not believe anyone who has to report 
to the Attorney General of the United States would be considered as 
  I ask unanimous consent for an additional 3 minutes.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. President, if I may, I ask unanimous consent to have 
printed in the Record the letters written by Senator Obama and Senator 
Biden asking for a special counsel.
  There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                    Obama, et al. Letter on Abramoff

                                                 February 2, 2006.
     Hon. Alberto Gonzales,
     U.S. Department of Justice,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear General Gonzales: We write to join the request made 
     last week that you appoint a special counsel to continue the 
     investigation and the prosecution of those involved in the 
     corruption scandal surrounding Jack Abramoff's dealings with 
     the federal government. The Department's response to the 
     press regarding that request did not address the fundamental 
     issue of a conflict of interest or the other serious issues 
     raised by the letter.
       This scandal has shaken the public's confidence in our 
     government and all involved must be pursued vigorously. A 
     special counsel will ensure the public's confidence in the 
     investigation and prosecution and help to restore its faith 
     in our government. FBI officials have said the Abramoff 
     investigation ``involves systemic corruption within the 
     highest levels of government.'' Such an assertion indicates 
     extraordinary circumstances and it is in the public interest 
     that you act under your existing statutory authority to 
     appoint a special counsel.
       Mr. Abramoff's significant ties to Republican leadership in 
     Congress, and allegations of improper activity involving 
     Administration officials, reaching, possibly, into the White 
     House itself, pose a possible conflict of interest for the 
     Department and thus further warrant the appointment of a 
     special counsel. Recent news reports confirm that Mr. 
     Abramoff met the President on several occasions and during 
     some of those meetings, Mr. Abramoff and his family had their 
     photos taken with the President. Mr. Abramoff also organized 
     at least one and possibly several meetings with White House 
     staff for his clients. These meetings with the President and 
     White House staff occurred while you were serving as White 
     House Counsel. Given the possible ties between Mr. Abramoff 
     and senior government officials, we believe the appointment 
     of a special counsel is not only justified, but necessary.
       The Public Integrity section of the Department has thus far 
     pursued this case appropriately, and we applaud its pursuit 
     of Mr. Abramoff and his colleagues. As the investigation 
     turns to government officials and their staffs, both in the 
     Executive and Legislative branches, we have no doubt that if 
     the investigation is left to the career prosecutors in that 
     section, the case would reach its appropriate conclusion. 
     Unfortunately, the highly political context of the 
     allegations and charges may lead some to surmise that 
     political influence may compromise the investigation. This 
     concern is heightened by allegations that Frederick Black, 
     the former acting U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern 
     Marianas, was replaced, perhaps improperly, as a result of 
     his investigation of Mr. Abramoff.
       Appointment of a Special Counsel at this point in time is 
     made even more appropriate by the White House's recent 
     nomination of Noel Hillman, the career prosecutor in charge 
     of the case, to a federal judgeship. As a new prosecutor will 
     need to take over the case, we ask you to appoint an outside 
     Special Counsel so the public can be assured no political 
     considerations will be a part of this investigation or the 
     subsequent prosecutions.
       Because this investigation is vital to restoring the 
     public's faith in its government, any appearance of bias, 
     special favor or political consideration would be a further 
     blow to our democracy. Appointment of a special counsel would 
     ensure that the investigation and prosecution will proceed 
     without fear or favor and provide the public with full 
     confidence that no one in this country is above the law.
       We know you share our commitment to restoring the public's 
     trust in our government. We hope you will take the only 
     appropriate action here and appoint a special counsel so we 
     can ensure that justice is done while preserving the 
     integrity of the Justice Department.
       We look forward to hearing from you on this matter soon.
         Harry Reid; Charles E. Schumer; Ken Salazar; Barack 
           Obama; Dick Durbin; Robert Menendez; Ted Kennedy; 
           Daniel K. Inouye; Blanche L. Lincoln; Kent Conrad; Jack 
           Reed; Evan Bayh; Carl Levin; Joe Lieberman; Debbie 
           Stabenow; John F. Kerry; Bill Nelson; Frank R. 
           Lautenberg; Barbara Mikulski; Dianne Feinstein; Patty 
           Murray; Daniel K. Akaka; Maria Cantwell; Hillary Rodham 
           Clinton; Ron Wyden; Barbara Boxer; Jim Jeffords; Max 
           Baucus; Joe Biden; Chris Dodd; Patrick Leahy; Russell 
           D. Feingold; Tim Johnson; Paul Sarbanes; Tom Carper; 
           Jeff Bingaman.

             Biden, Daschle, Schumer, Levin Letter to Bush

                                         United States Senate,

                                  Washington, DC, October 9, 2003.
     The President,
     The White House,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear Mr. President: We write to express our continuing 
     concerns regarding the manner in which your Administration is 
     conducting the investigation into the apparently criminal 
     leaking of a covert CIA operative's identity. You have 
     personally pledged the White House's full cooperation in this 
     investigation and you have stated

[[Page S3942]]

     your desire to see any culprits identified and prosecuted, 
     but the Administration's actions are inconsistent with your 
       Already, just 14 days into this investigation, there have 
     been at least five serious missteps.
       First, although the Department of Justice commenced its 
     investigation on Friday, September 26, the Justice Department 
     did not ask the White House to order employees to preserve 
     all relevant evidence until Monday, September 29. Every 
     former prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that the 
     first step in such an investigation would be to ensure all 
     potentially relevant evidence is preserved, yet the Justice 
     Department waited four days before making a formal request 
     for such documents.
       Second, when the Justice Department finally asked the White 
     House to order employees to preserve documents, White House 
     Counsel Alberto Gonzales asked for permission to delay 
     transmitting the order to preserve evidence until morning. 
     That request for delay was granted. Again, every former 
     prosecutor with whom we have spoken has said that such a 
     delay is a significant departure from standard practice.
       Third, instead of immediately seeking the preservation of 
     evidence at the two other Executive Branch departments from 
     which the leak might have originated, i.e., State and 
     Defense, such a request was not made until Thursday, October 
     1. Perhaps even more troubling, the request to State and 
     Defense Department employees to preserve evidence was 
     telegraphed in advance not only by the request to White House 
     employees earlier in the week, but also by the October 1st 
     Wall Street Journal report that such a request was 
     ``forthcoming'' from the Justice Department. It is, of 
     course, extremely unusual to tip off potential witnesses in 
     this manner that a preservation request is forthcoming.
       Fourth, on October 7, White House spokesperson Scott 
     McClellan stated that he had personally determined three 
     White House officials, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and Elliot 
     Abrams, had not disclosed classified information. According 
     to press reports, Mr. McClellan said, ``I've spoken with each 
     of them individually. They were not involved in leaking 
     classified information, nor did they condone it.'' Clearly, a 
     media spokesperson does not have the legal expertise to be 
     questioning possible suspects or evaluating or reaching 
     conclusions about the legality of their conduct. In addition, 
     by making this statement, the White House has now put the 
     Justice Department in the position of having to determine not 
     only what happened, but also whether to contradict the 
     publicly stated position of the White House.
       Fifth, and perhaps most importantly, the investigation 
     continues to be directly overseen by Attorney General 
     Ashcroft who has well-documented conflicts of interest in any 
     investigation of the White House. Mr. Ashcroft's personal 
     relationship and political alliance with you, his close 
     professional relationships with Karl Rove and Mr. Gonzales, 
     and his seat on the National Security Council all tie him so 
     tightly to this White House that the results may not be 
     trusted by the American people. Even if the case is being 
     handled in the first instance by professional career 
     prosecutors, the integrity of the inquiry may be called into 
     question if individuals with a vested interest in protecting 
     the White House are still involved in any matter related to 
     the investigation.
       We are at risk of seeing this investigation so compromised 
     that those responsible for this national security breach will 
     never be identified and prosecuted. Public confidence in the 
     integrity of this investigation would be substantially 
     bolstered by the appointment of a special counsel. The 
     criteria in the Justice Department regulations that created 
     the authority to appoint a Special Counsel have been met in 
     the current case. Namely, there is a criminal investigation 
     that presents a conflict of interest for the Justice 
     Department, and it would be in the public interest to appoint 
     an outside special counsel to assume responsibility for the 
     matter. In the meantime, we urge you to ask Attorney General 
     Ashcroft to recuse himself from this investigation and do 
     everything within your power to ensure the remainder of this 
     investigation is conducted in a way that engenders public 
     Tom Daschle.
     Joseph R. Biden.
     Carl Levin.
     Charles E. Schumer.

  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 
  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.
  Mr. McCAIN. I appreciate the indulgence of my colleagues.

                       Unanimous Consent Request

  As in legislative session, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate 
now proceed to the consideration of a resolution regarding the recent 
intelligence leaks, which means the appointment of a special counsel, 
which is at the desk. I ask unanimous consent that the resolution be 
agreed to, the preamble be agreed to, and the motion to reconsider be 
laid upon the table.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Is there objection?
  Mr. WYDEN. Reserving the right to object----
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Oregon.
  Mr. WYDEN. Mr. President, I have served on the Intelligence Committee 
for 11 years now, and I have seen during that time plenty of leaks. I 
have tried with every bit of my energy to demonstrate how serious an 
issue this leaking matter is. In fact, I teamed up with Senator Bond--
our colleagues remember Senator Bond, of course--and I sponsored 
legislation to double--double--the criminal penalty for those who leak, 
for those who expose covert agents. So I don't take a back seat to 
anybody in terms of recognizing the seriousness of leaks and ensuring 
that they are dealt with in an extremely prompt and responsive fashion.
  What is at issue here is whether we are going to give an opportunity 
for U.S. attorneys--professionals in their fields--to handle this 
particular inquiry. I see no evidence that the way the U.S. attorneys 
are handling this investigation at this time is not with the highest 
standards of professionalism.
  I have disagreed with the Attorney General on plenty of issues. My 
colleagues know I have been particularly in disagreement with the 
Attorney General on this issue of secret law. I think there are real 
questions about whether laws that are written in the Congress are 
actually the laws that govern their interpretations. So I have 
disagreed with the Attorney General on plenty of matters. I think I 
have demonstrated by writing that law with Senator Bond that I want to 
be as tough as possible on leakers.
  But I would now have to object to the request from our colleague from 
Arizona simply because I believe it is premature. For that reason, Mr. 
President, I object to the request from the Senator from Arizona.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Objection is heard.


[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 88 (Tuesday, June 12, 2012)]
[Pages S3945-S3949]

                        National Security Leaks

  Mr. COATS. Mr. President, I rise today to discuss the issue of 
national security leaks.
  A few weeks ago, the world learned that U.S. intelligence agencies 
and partners disrupted an al-Qaida plot to blow up a civilian aircraft. 
We are all very familiar with the success of this effort, and we 
applaud those involved in preventing a truly horrific terrorist attack.
  However, my concern today, and has been since that time, is that the 
public has become too familiar with this successful operation. 
Specifically, due to an intelligence leak, the world learned of highly 
sensitive information, sources, and methods that enabled the United 
States and its allies to prevent al-Qaida from striking again.
  This irresponsible leak jeopardizes future operations and future 
cooperation with valuable sources and intelligence partners overseas. 
The release of this information--intentional or not--puts American 
lives at risk as well as the lives of those who helped us in this 
  Unfortunately, this is not the only recent leak to occur. As a member 
of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I am deeply concerned 
about a troubling rash of leaks exposing classified intelligence 
information that has come out in the last several weeks. This paints a 
disturbing picture of this administration's judgment when it comes to 
national security.
  There is a questionable collaboration with Hollywood, whereby the 

[[Page S3947]]

administration decided to give unprecedented access to filmmakers 
producing a movie on the bin Laden raid--including the confidential 
identity of one of our Nation's most elite warriors. Discussions with 
reporters in the aftermath of the raid also may have revealed the 
involvement of a Pakistani doctor, who was sentenced to 33 years in 
prison for treason after playing a critical role in the hunt for bin 
  The pages of our newspapers have highly classified information 
publicized pertaining to intelligence operations in Yemen and Iran--
currently, the two most concerning foreign policy challenges this 
Nation faces. This is in addition to the frequency with which top 
administration officials now openly discuss the once highly classified 
execution of drone strikes. All too frequently we read in these 
publications that ``highly placed administration officials'' are the 
source of confirmation of previously classified information.
  Sadly, these incidents are not the first time this Nation's secrets 
have spilled onto the streets or in the book stores. The problem stems 
in part from the media's insatiable desire for information that makes 
intelligence operations look a lot like something out of a Hollywood 
script. This media hunger is fed by inexcusable contributions from 
current and former government officials.
  Mr. President, I want to repeat that last statement. This media 
hunger to publish classified information comes from the inexcusable 
contributions of current and former government officials. We now know 
that investigations by the FBI, CIA, and now two prosecutors are 
underway, but more must be done to prevent intelligence disclosures 
from occurring in the first place.
  The question of whether the White House purposely leaked classified 
information, as the President refutes, is not my main point. Whether it 
was intentional has little bearing on the results. Highly classified 
information still got out, and it appears to have been enabled by 
interviews with senior administration officials.
  At this time, I take the President at his word that the White House 
did not purposely leak classified information. But what about his 
administration leaking it accidentally or what about mistakenly or--and 
this is perhaps the best adjective that might apply--what about 
stupidly? There remain a lot of unanswered questions about the White 
House's judgment and whether the actions by this administration, 
intentional or not, enabled highly sensitive information to become 
  The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are working together in 
a nonpartisan fashion--let me emphasize that we are working together in 
a nonpartisan fashion--to address this issue. As a member of the 
committee, I am working with my colleagues to evaluate a range of 
reforms to reduce or hopefully eliminate the opportunity for future 
leaks. I wish to commend Chairman Feinstein and Vice Chairman Chambliss 
for their efforts and genuine interest in moving forward with this, and 
I thank them for their leadership on this matter. Our committee, 
working across the Capitol with the House Intelligence Committee, will 
bring forward recommendations, including legislation, to address this 
growing problem.
  As the Department of Justice conducts its investigations, we cannot 
lose sight of important questions that must be answered, such as but 
not limited to the following:
  Question No. 1: Why did the White House hold a conference call on May 
7 with a collection of former national security officials, some of whom 
are talking heads on network television, to discuss the confidential 
operation to disrupt the al-Qaida bomb plot?
  Question No. 2: Why is the White House cooperating so candidly with 
Hollywood filmmakers on a movie about the Osama bin Laden raid, one of 
the most highly secretive operations in the history of this country? 
While we don't know the date of the public release of this Hollywood 
production, we can be sure that any release prior to the November 
Presidential election will fuel a firestorm of accusations of political 
  Question No. 3: Why would the confidential identity of elite U.S. 
military personnel be released to Hollywood filmmakers?
  Question No. 4: Why would administration officials even talk to 
reporters or authors writing books or articles about incredibly 
sensitive operations?
  Question No. 5: Did any administration officials--in the White House 
or not--authorize the disclosure of classified information?
  These are just some of the key questions that must be asked in this 
investigation. There also remain several questions surrounding the 
current investigations. The appointment of two prosecutors to lead 
criminal investigations into the recent leaks is a step forward, but 
the scope remains unclear, as well as the question of whether we should 
insist on a special counsel given the current concerns about the 
credibility of the Justice Department.
  Will these investigations focus just on the Yemen and Iran issue or 
will the leaks involving drone strikes and other leaks that have 
occurred in the past months also be a target of the investigation?
  Will White House officials be interviewed as part of this 
investigation? Which officials will or will not be available to take 
part in the investigation? Will those who are former or no longer a 
part of the administration or the Federal Government or those outside 
it, including those reporters in question, be a part of this 
  Will e-mails or phone calls of administration officials be analyzed 
to identify who spoke with the reporters and authors in question and 
  Again, whether these officials are intentionally leaking classified 
information is not the main point. If they put themselves in situations 
where they are discussing or confirming classified information, they 
must also be held accountable. Public pressure is required to shape 
these investigations and to ensure all our questions about these events 
are answered, which is why I am speaking here today.
  Every day, we have men and women in uniform serving around the globe 
to protect and defend this great country, and every day we have 
intelligence professionals and national security officers working 
behind the scenes with allies and potential informants to prevent 
attacks on our country. These leaks undermine all that hard work and 
all those countless sacrifices. Additionally, it risks lives and the 
success of future operations. Not only must we plug these damaging and 
irresponsible leaks, we also must work to do all we can to eliminate or 
greatly reduce the opportunity for them to occur in the future.
  Criminal prosecution and congressional action is not the only 
solution. We also need public accountability. Administration officials 
continue to speak off the record with reporters and authors about 
classified information even after these recent disclosures. It is a 
practice that contributes to unwise and harmful consequences.
  Purposely or accidentally, loose lips can bring about disastrous 
results. Perhaps the best advice is the saying: ``You don't have to 
explain what you don't say'' or maybe it is even simpler than that. 
Maybe the best advice for those who are privy to confidential 
information is what former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, and I 
paraphrase: Just shut the heck up.
  I yield the floor.


[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 88 (Tuesday, June 12, 2012)]
[Pages S3949-S3964]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

                          LEGISLATIVE SESSION

  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Texas.
  Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, this morning during a hearing in front of 
the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Attorney General appeared, and in 
an exchange I had with him, it culminated with my call upon him to 
resign his position as Attorney General. That is a very serious matter. 
I wish to take a few minutes to explain why, after long deliberation, I 
have come to this conclusion. I do believe it is the right decision and 
it is long overdue.
  I served as an attorney general of my State--an elected attorney 
general, not an appointed attorney general. I believe strongly the 
American people deserve a chief law enforcement officer who will be 
independent of political influence, who will be accountable to the law, 
and who will be transparent, particularly in his dealings with the 
Congress. Unfortunately, Attorney General Holder has failed on all of 
these counts.
  At his confirmation hearing in 2009 in front of the Judiciary 
Committee, Eric Holder said his Department of Justice would ``serve 
justice, not the fleeting interests of any political party.'' He also 
said he would seek to achieve a ``full partnership with this Committee 
and with Congress as a whole.'' I wish he had kept his word. 
Regrettably, he has not.
  In the past few weeks I have joined my colleagues on both sides of 
the aisle in our shock at news articles that have disclosed some of the 
most sensitive classified programs of our national security apparatus. 
These were reportedly covert operations aimed at thwarting terrorist 
attacks as well as defeating Iran's nuclear aspirations. The leaks, 
according to the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator 
Feinstein--I am paraphrasing here, but I believe she says these are 
some of the worst she has seen in her tenure on the Intelligence 
Committee. Others have suggested these are some of the most damaging 
potential leaks

[[Page S3955]]

in our history--certainly recent history.
  According to the very stories that reported these programs, the 
sources come from the highest reaches of the executive branch of our 
government; namely, the White House. As Democrats and Republicans have 
both made clear, the unauthorized release of classified information is 
a crime--it is a crime--because it threatens our national security and 
puts the lives of those who are sworn to defend our Nation in jeopardy. 
As many have hastened to point out, it also jeopardizes the cooperation 
of our allies. Who would be motivated to be a source of classified, 
highly sensitive information that would be provided to our intelligence 
community if they knew they were likely to be on the front page of the 
Washington Post or The New York Times?
  The news articles containing the leaked information paint the 
President in a flattering light. The concern is that they appear just 
as his reelection campaign is getting into full swing.
  Let me be clear. These facts raise legitimate concerns about the 
motives behind what everyone agrees is criminal conduct. That is why it 
is so important to have an investigation of these leaks that is 
independent, nonpartisan, and thorough. Unfortunately, Attorney General 
Holder has demonstrated, at least to me, that he is incapable of 
delivering that kind of investigation.
  Just hours before Senator McCain and Senator Chambliss called for a 
special prosecutor or, in the parlance of the statute now, a special 
counsel, Holder's Deputy Attorney General Jim Cole told me he didn't 
think an independent investigation was warranted because the leaks 
didn't come from the White House or this administration. Amazingly, he 
hadn't, apparently, done an investigation before he reached that 
conclusion. Attorney General Holder apparently takes the same view. He 
has already decided who is not to blame, and he has excluded the 
administration and the White House and the reported sources of the 
information--although not named, they were named by category--he has 
already written them off and suggested that they could not possibly be 
the source of any of these leaks.
  I looked into the special counsel law which says that a special 
prosecutor is called for when an investigation would present a conflict 
of interest for the Justice Department.
  I concede the Attorney General has a very tough job. He is a member 
of the President's Cabinet, but he has a special and independent 
responsibility as the chief law enforcement officer of the country and 
he can't be confused about those roles. There have been some reports 
that some of these leaks may have even emanated from the Justice 
Department itself. In fact, this morning, the Attorney General 
acknowledged that some of the Department of Justice's National Security 
Division had recused itself from an ongoing leak investigation. We 
don't know the details of that, but he did concede that his own 
National Security Division at the Department of Justice--some members 
of that division had already recused themselves.
  These leaks in the New York Times--I am talking specifically about 
the drone program and about the cyber attacks on Iran's nuclear 
capability--quoted senior administration officials and quoted members 
of the President's national security team.
  Now, that is not a large number of people to question or to identify. 
In fact, that is the very source given in these stories that reported 
the leaks--``senior administration officials'' and ``members of the 
president's national security team.''
  This is the same story that said that on the President's so-called 
kill list that he personally goes over with his national security team 
identifying targets of drone attacks, that also David Axelrod, his 
chief political adviser, sat in, apparently, on at least one, maybe 
more meetings.
  But instead of an independent prosecutor, Attorney General Holder has 
chosen to appoint two U.S. attorneys who are in his chain of command 
and who will report to him and who are directly under his personal 
supervision. One of those is U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia 
Ronald Machen, who volunteered on the Obama campaign in 2008 and who 
has given thousands of dollars to the President's political campaigns 
over the years. I do not have any issue with that. That is his right as 
an American citizen. But it does raise legitimate questions about his 
ability to be independent and conduct the kind of investigation I am 
talking about. Oh, by the way, Mr. Machen also got his start as a 
Federal prosecutor when he went to work for U.S. Attorney General Eric 
Holder. That is not an independent investigation--that is the point--
and it helps to demonstrate why it is that Attorney General Holder has 
a conflict of interest himself that requires the appointment of a 
special counsel, not the appointment of two U.S. attorneys who are 
directly responsible to him and through whom he can control the flow of 
information to Congress and others.
  Reasonable people will wonder, where does the Attorney General's 
loyalty lie--to the President of the United States to try to help him 
get reelected or his duty to enforce the laws of the U.S. Government?
  This would be troubling enough to me if this were an isolated event, 
but what has brought me to this serious conclusion that Attorney 
General Holder should, in fact, resign goes back much further because 
this is only a symptom of the Department of Justice's complete lack of 
accountability, independence, and transparency.
  Take the tragedy known as Operation Fast and Furious. And we know, 
under Attorney General Holder's watch, the Department of Justice 
ordered the transfer of more than 2,000 high-caliber firearms to some 
of the most dangerous drug cartels operating in Mexico. The Attorney 
General disingenuously tried to confuse this with an operation known as 
Wide Receiver, which was done in consultation with the Mexican 
Government and where the point was not to let the guns walk without 
surveillance but to track them. It was ended when it became very 
difficult to track them and thus gave rise to the operation known as 
Fast and Furious, which had an altogether different mode of operation.
  Instead of tracking these firearms and arresting cartel agents 
trafficking them, under Operation Fast and Furious, Department of 
Justice officials ordered law enforcement agents to break off direct 
surveillance and to allow these guns to ``walk''--apparently under the 
mistaken belief that they could somehow find them at a later time and, 
through alternative means of surveillance, discover the nature of the 
organization and the distribution of these guns and help them bring 
down some of these cartels. Unfortunately, and quite predictably, the 
weapons from this flawed operation have been used to commit numerous 
violent crimes on both sides of the southern border, including the 
murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in December 2010.
  Far from being apologetic, Attorney General Holder's conduct during 
the congressional investigation into this flawed program has been 
nothing short of misleading and obstructionist, having complete 
disregard for Congress's independent constitutional responsibility to 
conduct oversight and investigations of the Department of Justice and 
other Federal agencies.
  For example, Attorney General Holder has stonewalled the 
investigation, turning over less than 10 percent of the documents 
subpoenaed by a congressional committee.
  Attorney General Holder's Department misled Congress in a February 
2011 letter where they claimed that Operation Fast and Furious did not 
even exist--there was no program to allow guns to walk into the hands 
of the cartels and to lose direct surveillance of them. We now know 
that is false but only because Lanny Breuer, 9 months later, in 
November 2011, came before the Senate Judiciary Committee and said: You 
know, that letter we wrote in February 2011 saying there was not any 
gun-walking program known as Fast and Furious--that was false. That was 
not true.
  So for all that period of time, Attorney General Holder and his 
Department misled Congress by claiming falsely that Fast and Furious 
did not exist.
  Then, in addition, Attorney General Holder misled Representative 
Issa, who has led the investigation in the House of Representatives, by 
testifying that he only learned of Operation Fast

[[Page S3956]]

and Furious ``over the last few weeks.'' That was in May 2011. He said 
he only learned about it in ``the last few weeks.'' Brian Terry was 
murdered in December 2010, yet Eric Holder said he only learned in 
``the last few weeks'' about Operation Fast and Furious, and that was 
in May 2011. We now know that is false.
  Attorney General Holder also misled the public at a September 2011 
press conference by claiming that Operation Fast and Furious did not 
reach into the upper levels of the Justice Department. We now know that 
is false. I personally reviewed some of the wiretaps that were produced 
as a result of a whistleblower through the House investigating 
committee, and it makes clear that the rationale for securing a wiretap 
was because they did not expect to be able to keep track of the weapons 
directly by direct surveillance, describing, in essence, the tactics of 
Operation Fast and Furious. Those required the authorization of high-
level Department of Justice employees, including those in Lanny 
Breuer's office. Again, Attorney General Holder and his staff misled 
the public, claiming Operation Fast and Furious was unknown at the 
upper reaches of the Justice Department.
  Attorney General Holder misled the Senate Judiciary Committee last 
November by testifying that he did not believe that these wiretap 
applications approved by senior deputies included detailed discussion 
of gunwalking. As I said, we know that to be false. I read them with my 
own eyes yesterday, although they remain under seal. And Attorney 
General Holder has refused to take any step to ask the court to modify 
that seal so we can then review those and compare his story with what 
is revealed in the affidavits. So as long as these documents remain 
under seal, we are left with the ``he said, she said'' that he could 
resolve if he would agree to go to the court and ask that they be 
unsealed for purposes of the congressional investigation.

  Then, when there were reports of gunwalking operations in Houston, 
TX, at a sports dealer known as Carter's Country, I asked Attorney 
General Holder whether there were gunwalking operations in my State. 
When you had a legitimate seller of firearms say: Hey, I think there is 
something suspicious going on, you have people making bulk purchases of 
firearms, and I am worried they may be going to the cartels or other 
sources, they were told: Do not do anything about it. Let them go.
  But when I asked Attorney General Holder to confirm or deny that 
there was an Operation Fast and Furious look-alike or that Fast and 
Furious itself was operating in my State, again, I got no reply.
  I have no idea what else the Attorney General and his Department are 
concealing from the American people or, more importantly, the Brian 
Terry family, who deserve to know what happened and how this operation 
went terribly awry.
  Perhaps worst of all has been the lack of accountability, starting at 
the top. In the last 16 months since Operation Fast and Furious was 
uncovered, Eric Holder has not fired a single person in his Department 
for supplying 2,000 high-caliber firearms to drug cartels in Mexico. 
That is really astonishing. I have to ask, if no one has been held 
accountable, what does it take to get fired at the Holder Justice 
  Attorney General Holder's litany of failure does not end there, 
again, putting politics ahead of his job as the chief law enforcement 
officer of the country and, indeed, putting what appears to be a 
political agenda ahead of the law.
  For example--another example--Attorney General Holder has targeted 
commonsense voter ID legislation passed by the Texas Legislature and 
the South Carolina Legislature, which the Supreme Court of the United 
States has overwhelmingly upheld the constitutionality of since 2008. 
So here is the Texas Legislature, the South Carolina Legislature--and 
others perhaps sitting in the wings--trying to take steps to protect 
the integrity of the vote of qualified voters in their State. And who 
is the chief obstructionist to that goal? It is the Attorney General 
and the Department of Justice. So now we find ourselves--my State, 
South Carolina, and others find themselves in litigation asking the 
courts to do what the Attorney General will not and acknowledge that 
the Supreme Court decision in 2008 is the law of the land.
  These voter identification laws are designed to require citizens to 
produce a valid photo identification. If you do not have a valid photo 
identification, you can get one for free. In my State, you can show up 
without any ID and vote provisionally as long as you come back within a 
period of time and produce one. So it is no impediment to participation 
in votes. You know what. The American people are accustomed to 
presenting a photo ID because every time you get on an airplane, every 
time you want to buy a pack of cigarettes or a beer, you have to, if 
you are of a certain age, produce a photo ID to prove you are of a 
certain age. But Mr. Holder has been so outrageous as to compare these 
voter ID laws to Jim Crow poll taxes--it is outrageous--a charge that 
is defamatory and an insult to the people of my State and anyone with 
common sense. You know what. You have to show a photo ID to get into 
Eric Holder's office building in Washington, DC. Yet it is 
discriminatory somehow? It discourages qualified voters from casting 
their ballot? It is ridiculous. While Attorney General Holder is 
blocking State efforts to prevent voter fraud, he neglects the voting 
rights of the men and women in uniform who serve in our country's Armed 
  In 2010--actually before that--on a bipartisan basis, we introduced 
legislation and passed it overwhelmingly, something called the MOVE 
Act. It is a military voting act. But after its passage, which was 
designed to make it easier for troops who are deployed abroad or 
civilians deployed abroad to cast a ballot in U.S. elections, the 
Attorney General failed to adequately enforce this legislation, which 
was designed to guarantee our Active-Duty military and their families 
the right to vote. If Mr. Holder had spent as much time and effort 
enforcing this law as he recently spent attempting to get convicted 
felons and illegal aliens back on the voter rolls in Florida, thousands 
of military voters might have gotten their ballots on time rather than 
be disenfranchised in 2010.
  These are not the only duly enacted laws the Attorney General has 
failed to enforce in order to carry out the political agenda that 
apparently he believes is more important.
  The Attorney General has announced he will refuse to defend the 
bipartisan Defense of Marriage Act that was signed by President Bill 
Clinton, despite the fact that has been the law of the land for more 
than 15 years. It is, in fact, the duty of the Department of Justice to 
defend laws passed by Congress that are lawful and constitutional. Yet 
he refuses to even do so, and the litany goes on.
  In addition to using the Justice Department as a political arm of the 
Obama campaign, he has also moved the Department in a dangerously 
ideological direction in the war on terror. Attorney General Holder has 
failed to grasp the most important lesson of 9/11 and the 9/11 
Commission, that there is a difference between criminal law enforcement 
for violating crimes and the laws of war that are destined to get 
actionable intelligence and prevent attacks against the American 
people, not just punish them once they have occurred, which is the 
function of the criminal law.
  His actions have demonstrated that he believes terrorism is a 
traditional law enforcement problem warranting the same old traditional 
law enforcement solutions. But they, by definition, occur after the 
fact, after innocent people have been murdered, rather than designed to 
prevent those attacks.
  For example, Attorney General Holder attempted to hold trials for 
master minds of the 9/11 attack, such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in 
civilian court in Manhattan. He wanted to do so in spite of the outcry 
of local communities and the fact that civilian trials would give 
terrorists legal protections they are not entitled to under our 
Constitution and laws and which they do not deserve.
  Attorney General Holder attempted to transfer terrorists from 
Guantanamo Bay Cuba to prisons in the United States over the repeated 
objection of local communities and the Congress.
  What is more, when Federal agents detained, thankfully, the Christmas

[[Page S3957]]

Day Bomber in Chicago who was trying to blow up an airplane with a bomb 
he had smuggled and that was undetectable to law enforcement agents, he 
insisted that instead of being treated as a terrorist, an enemy 
combatant, he be read his Miranda rights. That is right. Attorney 
General Holder insisted this terrorist be told: You have the right to 
remain silent. You have the right to a lawyer. This is the sort of 
muddled thinking that I think has created such potential for harm, 
treating a war and terrorists as if they were conventional criminals 
who ought to be handled through our civilian courts.
  While Attorney General Holder was worrying about the rights of people 
such as the Christmas Day Bomber, he was targeting some of the very 
Americans who risked their lives to keep America safe. In fact, he 
appointed a special prosecutor--he thought this was sufficient to 
appoint a special prosecutor, not to investigate these classified leaks 
but to investigate U.S. intelligence officials in conducting their 
duties--he appointed a special prosecutor to investigate CIA 
interrogators during the prior administration, men and perhaps women 
who did what they did based on legal advice from the Department of 
Justice and based on the belief that what they were doing was important 
to the safety and security of U.S. citizens, and I think they were 
  Attorney General Holder has also seen fit to release top secret memos 
detailing interrogation methods, information which, of course, quickly 
found its way into the hands of America's enemies and which they could 
use to train to resist our intelligence-gathering efforts.
  Attorney General Holder's failure to grasp the most important lesson 
of the last decade, that we are at war against al-Qaida, demonstrates 
more than just a willingness to carry a political agenda for this 
administration. It is a sad result of an ideological blindness to the 
law. It has moved the Department of Justice, and unfortunately this 
country, in a dangerous direction.
  I would continue on with examples of Eric Holder's litany of failure, 
but I believe the case is clear-cut. The American people deserve an 
Attorney General who is independent of politics, who is accountable to 
the oversight of Congress, and who is transparent. Mr. Holder has 
proven that he is none of these things. It is with regret, not with 
anger but with regret and sadness I say it is time for him to resign.
  I yield the floor.