[Congressional Record Volume 158, Number 116 (Wednesday, August 1, 2012)]
[Pages S5818-S5823]

  Mr. McCAIN. [...]  

                        National Security Leaks

   I really came to the floor today to talk about the issue of the 
leaks, the leaks which have directly jeopardized America's national 
security. At the Aspen Security Forum, just in the last few days, the 
head of Special Operations Command, Admiral McRaven, observed that the 
recent national security leaks have put lives at risk and may 
ultimately cost America its lives unless there is an effective 
crackdown. Admiral McRaven, the head of our Special Operations Command 

       We need to do the best we can to clamp down because sooner 
     or later it is going to cost people their lives or it is 
     going to cost us our national security.

  This is another national security issue, my friends, and I appreciate 
very much the fact that Governor Romney rightly referred to these leaks 
as contemptible and a betrayal of our national interests.
  I wish to point out to my colleagues that, yes, there are supposedly 
investigations going on and, according to media, hundreds of people are 
being interviewed. Well, I am no lawyer. I am no prosecutor. Senator 
Graham may have some experience in that. But what about the 2009 G20 
economic summit when, according to the New York Times journalist David 
Sanger, ``a senior official in the National Security Council'' tapped 
him on the shoulder and brought him to the Presidential suite in the 
Pittsburgh hotel where President Obama was staying and where ``most of 
the rest of the national security staff was present.'' There the 
journalist was allowed to review satellite images and other evidence 
that confirmed the existence of a secret nuclear site in Iran.
  I wonder how many people have the key to the Presidential suite in 
that Pittsburgh, PA hotel? We might want to start there. Instead, we 
have two prosecutors, one of whom was a strong and great supporter of 
the President of the United States. And the same people--I am talking 
about the Vice President of the United States and others--who strongly 
supported a special counsel in the case of Valerie Plame and, of 
course, the Abramoff case. We need a special counsel to find out who 
was responsible for these leaks.
  I ask my colleague Senator Graham if he has additional comments on 
this issue. It has receded somewhat in the

[[Page S5819]]

media, but the damage that has been done to our national security is 
significant. It has put lives at risk, and it has betrayed our allies. 
This is an issue we cannot let go away until those who are responsible 
are held accountable for these actions.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Madam President, my comment, in response to the question 
Senator McCain has, is what we do today becomes precedent for tomorrow. 
So are we going to sit on the sidelines here and allow the Attorney 
General--who is under siege by our colleagues in the House about the 
way he has handled Fast and Furious and other matters--to appoint two 
U.S. attorneys who have to answer to him to investigate allegations 
against the very White House that appointed him? The reason so many 
Democrats wrote to President Bush and said, You cannot possibly 
investigate the Scooter Libby-Valerie Plame leak because it involves 
people very close to you--well, let's read some of the letters. Biden, 
Daschle, Schumer, and Levin letter to President Bush, October 9, 2003:

       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.

  Senator Biden:

       I think they should appoint a special prosecutor, but if 
     they're not going to do that, which I suspect they're not, is 
     get the information out as quick as they possibly can. This 
     is not a minor thing . . . There's been a federal crime 
     committed. The question is who did it? And the President 
     should do everything in his power to demonstrate that there's 
     an urgency to find that out.

  Then he goes on later and says:

       There's been a federal crime committed. You can't possibly 
     investigate yourself because people close to you are 

  In the Abramoff scandal, which involved Jack Abramoff, a person very 
close to House leadership and some people in the Bush administration, 
and our Democratic colleagues, 34 of them, said the following:

       FBI officials have said that the Abramoff investigation 
     ``involves systematic 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 

  So our Democratic colleagues back during the Bush administration 
said, We don't trust you enough to investigate compromising national 
security by having an agent outed allegedly by members of your 
administration. We don't trust the Republican Party apparatus enough to 
investigate Jack Abramoff, because you are so close to him, and you 
should have a special counsel appointed.
  Well, guess what. They did.
  Here is what I am saying. I don't trust this White House to 
investigate themselves. I think this reeks of a coverup. I think the 
highest levels of this government surrounding the President, 
intentionally, over a 45-day period, leaked various stories regarding 
our national security programs, to make the administration look strong 
on national security. I don't think it is an accident that we are 
reading in the paper about efforts by the administration and our allies 
to use cyber attacks against the Iranian nuclear program as a way to 
try to head Israel off from using military force. I don't know if it 
happened, but the details surrounding the cooperation between us and 
Israel and how we engaged in cyber attacks against the Iranian nuclear 
program are chilling and something we should not read about in the 
  The second thing we read about in the paper was how we disrupted the 
underwear bomber plot where there was a double agent who had 
infiltrated an al-Qaida cell, I believe it was in Yemen, and how we 
were able to break that up; and the man was given a suicide vest that 
was new technology and couldn't be detected by the current screening 
devices at the airports, and how we were able to basically infiltrate 
that cell, and God knows the damage done to our allies and that 
  Mr. McCAIN. Could I ask my friend, isn't it also true that this 
individual had some 23 family members whose lives were also placed in 
danger because of the revelation of his identity?
  Mr. GRAHAM. That is what we have been told in the paper.
  We also have a story about the kill list--a blow-by-blow description 
of how President Obama personally oversees who gets killed by drones in 
Pakistan, and at the end of the day, I am not so sure that is something 
we should all be reading about.
  But if that is not enough, what about releasing the Pakistani 
doctor--the person who allegedly helped us find bin Laden, and his role 
in this effort to find bin Laden is also in the paper, and now he is in 
jail in Pakistan.
  The sum total is that the leaks have been devastating. They have put 
people's lives at risk. They have compromised our national security, 
unlike anything I have seen, and people expect us to sit on the 
sidelines and let the White House investigate itself? No way.

  Those who wrote letters in the past suggesting that Bush could not 
impartially investigate himself, where are they today? Is this the 
rule: We can't trust Republicans, but we can trust Democratic 
administrations to get to the bottom of things they are involved in up 
to their eyebrows?
  Do we think it is an accident that all of these books quote senior 
White House officials? There is a review of one of the books the 
Senator from Arizona mentioned that talked about the unprecedented 
access to the National Security Adviser. There is a vignette in one of 
the books where the Secretary of Defense goes up to the National 
Security Adviser and suggests a new communications strategy when it 
comes to the programs we are talking about: Shut the F up. Well, that 
makes great reading, but at the end of the day, should we be reading 
about all this? People's lives are at stake. Programs have been 
compromised. Our allies are very reluctant now to do business with us.
  This was, in my view, an intentional effort by people at the highest 
level in the White House to leak these stories for political purposes. 
And to accept that Eric Holder is going to appoint two people within 
his sphere of influence and call it a day is acceptable. That is not 
going to happen. We are going to do everything we can to right this 
ship, and we are asking no more of our Democratic colleagues than they 
asked of the Bush administration.
  To our Democratic colleagues: How do you justify this? How do you 
justify that you couldn't investigate Abramoff without a special 
counsel and you couldn't investigate what Scooter Libby may or may not 
have done without a special counsel, but it is OK not to have one here? 
How do you do that?
  Mr. DURBIN. Mr. President, will the Senator yield for a question?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Absolutely.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER (Mr. Franken). The Senator from Illinois.
  Mr. DURBIN. The Senator asked whether this side would like to explain 
our position. I would be happy to do it at this point, but I can wait 
until my colleagues finish their colloquy, so it is their choice.
  Mr. GRAHAM. Whatever the Senator from Illinois wishes to do. I am 
dying to hear how my Democratic colleagues think it is good government 
not to have a special independent counsel investigate the most damaging 
national security leak in decades. I am dying to hear the explanation.
  Mr. DURBIN. There is no need to die. I hope the Senator from South 
Carolina will continue living a good life because he is such a great 
Senator. But I am asking if my colleague wants me to join in this 
dialogue or would he rather make his presentation?
  Mr. GRAHAM. Well, I tell you what. Why don't we let my colleague 
speak, and then the Senator from Illinois will have all the time he 
needs. What does my colleague, the Senator from Georgia, Mr. Chambliss, 
  Mr. CHAMBLISS. Well, I am dying to hear his explanation too, let me 
say that.
  First of all, let me say that I join in with everything my two 
colleagues have said with respect to, No. 1, the volume of the leaks 
that have come out in recent weeks. We all know this town has a 
tendency to leak information from time to time, but never in the volume 
and never with the sensitivity of the leaks we have read about on the 
front page of newspapers around the country as we have seen in the last 
few weeks.
  Irrespective of where they came from, to have folks who may be 
implicated in the White House, and the

[[Page S5820]]

White House appointing the two individuals who have been charged with 
the duty of prosecuting this investigation, reeks of ethical issues. I 
don't know these two U.S. attorneys, but everything I know about them 
is they are dadgum good prosecutors and they are good lawyers. But why 
would we even put them in the position of having to investigate in 
effect the individual who appointed them to the position they are in? 
That is why we are arguing that a special counsel is, without question, 
the best way to go. I am interested to hear the response from my friend 
from Illinois to that issue.
  Let me talk about something else for a minute, and that is the impact 
these leaks have had on the intelligence community. The No. 1 thing 
that individuals who go on the intelligence committees in both the 
House and the Senate are told--and I know because I have served on both 
of them and continue to serve on the Senate Intelligence Committee--is 
to be careful what you say. Be careful and make sure you don't 
inadvertently--and obviously advertently--reveal classified 
information. Be sure that in your comments you never reveal sources and 
  Well, guess what. The individuals who were involved in these leaks 
were very overt in the release of sources and methods with respect to 
the issues Senator Graham referred to as having been leaked. Not only 
that, but lives were put in danger, particularly the life of the 
individual who was an asset who worked very closely with respect to the 
underwear bomber issue. We know that to be a fact.
  But there is also a secondary issue, and that is this: We have 
partners around the world we deal with in the intelligence community 
every single day, and we depend on those partners and they depend on us 
to provide them with information we have and likewise that they give to 
us. A classic example was detailed of one of these particular leaks on 
the front page of the New York Times. Today why in the world would any 
of our partners in the intelligence community around the world--those 
partners who have men and women on the front lines who are putting 
their life in harm's way and in danger every single day to gather 
intelligence information and share that information with us--why would 
they continue to do that if they are now concerned about that 
information being written about on the front page of newspapers inside 
the United States and blasted all over television or wherever it may 
  The answer is pretty simple. Very honestly, there are some strong 
considerations being given by some of our partners as to how much 
information they should share with us. That creates a very negative 
atmosphere within the intelligence world.
  Lastly, let me say that we dealt in the Intelligence Committee with 
our authorization bill recently in which we have tried to address this 
issue from a punishment standpoint.
  There are certain things that individuals are required to do when 
they leave the intelligence community and go write a book. One of those 
things is they have to present their book to an independent panel of 
intelligence experts, and that panel is to review the information and 
then decide whether any of it is classified and shall not be released. 
In one of the instances we have, one of those individuals never 
submitted his book to that panel. In another instance, an individual 
submitted his book to the panel, and the panel said: You need to be 
careful in these areas. And the advice from that panel was pretty well 
  One of the provisions in our bill says if someone does that, if 
someone fails to submit their book to that panel, or if they disregard 
what that panel tells them to do, then they are going to be subject to 
penalties. Part of those penalties include the possible removal of 
their right to a pension from the Federal Government--the portion the 
government is obligated to pay them, not what they have contributed.
  Our intelligence bill is being criticized by some individuals out 
there. And guess who it is? It is the media and it is the White House. 
What does that tell you about their fear and their participation in the 
release of classified information?
  So this issue is of critical importance. It simply has to stop for 
any number of national security reasons, but the ones that have been 
addressed by my colleagues obviously are to be highlighted. I look 
forward to whatever comments the Senator from Illinois may have with 
respect to justifying--I know he is not going to justify the leaks 
because I know him too well, but whatever his justification is for 
proceeding in a prosecution manner the way the Department of Justice is 
going versus what the Bush administration did and appointing a special 
counsel in a case that, by the way, pales in comparison to the leaks 
that took place in this particular instance.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, before we turn to our friend from Illinois 
for his, I am sure, convincing explanation as to why a special counsel 
is not required, even though it was, in the opinion of his side, in a 
previous situation, I want to just, again--and the Senator from Georgia 
and the Senator from South Carolina will also corroborate the fact that 
we have been working and working, having meeting after meeting after 
meeting, on the issue of cyber security.
  We believe we have narrowed it down to three or four differences that 
could be worked out over time. Among them is liability. Another one is 
information sharing. But I think it is also important for us to 
recognize in this debate the people who are most directly affected in 
many respects are the business communities, and it is important that we 
have the input and satisfy, at least to a significant degree, those 
  There are those who allege that a piece of legislation is better than 
no legislation. I have been around this town for a long time. I have 
seen bad legislation which is far worse than no legislation. So we 
understand certainly--I and members of the Armed Services Committee and 
others understand--the importance of this issue.
  We also understand that those who are directly affected by it--those 
concerns need to be satisfied as well. I commit to my colleagues to 
continue nonstop rounds of meetings and discussions to try to get this 
issue resolved. To this moment, there are still significant 
  I say to my friend from Illinois, I look forward to hearing his 
convincing discussion.
  I thank the Senator and yield the floor.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senator from Illinois 
be involved in the colloquy.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
  Mr. DURBIN. I did not know if the Senator wanted to make his 
unanimous consent request that he came to the floor to make.
  Mr. McCAIN. No.
  Mr. DURBIN. The Senator is not going to make it?
  Mr. McCAIN. No. The Senator will object.
  Mr. DURBIN. Yes, I will.
  Mr. President, I want to thank my colleague from Arizona. 
Occasionally, historically, on the floor of the Senate there is a 
debate, and this may be one of those moments. I hope it is because it 
is a worthy topic.
  Let's get down to the bottom line. I have served on the Intelligence 
Committee, as some of my colleagues have. We know the important work 
done by the intelligence community to keep America safe. They literally 
risk their lives every day for us, and they are largely invisible. We 
do not see them at the military parades and other places where we 
acknowledge those warriors who risk their lives, but these men and 
women do it in so many different ways.
  When I spent 4 years on the Senate Intelligence Committee--and my 
colleagues, I am sure, feel the same--I went out of my way to make sure 
I was careful with classified information so as to continue to protect 
this country and never endanger those who were helping us keep it safe 
all around the world.
  So the obvious question raised by the Republican side of the of the 
aisle is whether this President, President Barack Obama, thinks 
differently; whether President Obama believes we should cut corners and 
not be so careful when it comes to the leaking of classified 
  My answer to that is look at the record. Look at the record and ask 
this basic question: When it comes to prosecuting those believed to 
have been

[[Page S5821]]

guilty of leaks of classified information, which President of the 
United States has prosecuted more suspected individuals than any other 
President, Democrat or Republican? Barack Obama.
  On six different occasions--five in the Department of Justice and one 
in the Department of Defense--they pursued the active prosecution of 
those they believed were guilty of leaking classified information that 
might endanger the United States.
  Let me add another personal observation. It was last year when my 
friend Bill Daley, then-Chief of Staff to President Obama, came to 
Chicago for a luncheon. It was a nice day. We had a nice luncheon. It 
was very successful. He said he had to get back to Washington. He was 
in a big hurry. He never said why. He told me later--he told me much 
later--after this occurred: I had to get back because we had a 
classified meeting about hunting down Osama bin Laden. We were sworn to 
secrecy at every level of government so that we never, ever disclosed 
information that we were even thinking about that possibility.
  Bill Daley took it seriously. The President takes it seriously. 
Anyone in those positions of power will take it seriously. To suggest 
otherwise on the floor of the Senate is just plain wrong, and it raises 
a question about this President's commitment to the Nation, which I 
think is improper and cannot be backed up with the evidence.

  Now, let's look at the evidence when it comes to the appointment of a 
special prosecutor. Let me take you back to those moments when a 
special prosecutor named Patrick Fitzgerald from the Northern District 
of Illinois was chosen to investigate the leak of classified formation.
  Let me put it in historical context. We had invaded Iraq. We did it 
based on assertions by the Bush-Cheney administration about the danger 
to the United States. One of those assertions dealt with Africa and 
certain yellow cake chemicals that might be used for nuclear weapons 
and whether they were going to fall into the hands of the Iraqi 
  It was one of the arguments--there were many: weapons of mass 
destruction, and so forth, that turned out to be totally false--leading 
us into a war which has cost us dearly in terms of human lives and our 
own treasure.
  So one person spoke out. Former Ambassador Joe Wilson, who identified 
himself as a Republican, said: I do not believe there is any evidence 
to back up the assertion about the yellow cake coming out of Africa.
  Well, he was punished. Do you remember how he was punished? He was 
punished when someone decided to out his wife Valerie Plame. Valerie 
Plame had served as an intelligence agent for the United States to 
protect our Nation, and someone decided that in order to get even with 
Joe Wilson they would disclose the fact that his wife worked in the 
intelligence agencies.
  Then what happened? If you will remember, when that story broke, the 
intelligence community of the United States of America said: We have 
been betrayed. If one of our own can be outed in a political debate in 
Washington, are any of us safe? A legitimate question.
  So there was an obvious need to find out who did it, who disclosed 
her identity, endangering her life, the life of every person who had 
worked with her, and so many other intelligence agents.
  Mr. President, do you recall what happened? I do. The Attorney 
General of the United States, John Ashcroft, recused himself from this 
investigation. It was the right thing for him to do because the 
questions about this disclosure of her identity went to the top of the 
administration. He recused himself and appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, 
the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, a 
professional, a professional prosecutor with the U.S. Department of 
  Well, the investigation went on for a long time. At the end of the 
investigation, the Chief of Staff of the Vice President of the United 
States was found to have violated a law. That came out, and eventually 
we learned the identity of who actually disclosed the name of Valerie 
Plame. It was a serious issue, one that called for a special counsel, 
and, if I remember correctly, there were even Republicans at that point 
joining Democrats saying: Let's get to the bottom of this. If this goes 
all the way to the top, let's find out who is responsible for it. So it 
was the appropriate thing to do.
  Now, take a look at this situation. This President, who has activated 
the prosecution of six individuals suspected of leaking classified 
information, takes very seriously the information that was disclosed 
related to the al-Qaida techniques and all the things they were using 
to threaten the United States.
  What has he done as a result of it? Let's be specific because I 
really have to call into question some of the statements that have been 
made on the floor. To say that the administration is covering this up, 
as to this leak, is just plain wrong.
  At this point, the Department of Justice has appointed two highly 
respected and experienced prosecutors with proven records of 
independence in the exercise of their duties. U.S. Attorney Machen has 
recently overseen a number of public corruption prosecutions in the 
District of Columbia. U.S. Attorney Rosenstein has overseen a number of 
national security investigations, including one of the five leak 
investigations that have been prosecuted under this President. The 
Justice Department has complete confidence in their ability to conduct 
thorough and independent investigations into these matters in close 
collaboration with career prosecutors and agents.
  This is not being swept under the rug. This is not being ignored. 
This is being taken seriously by this administration, as every leak of 
classified information will be taken seriously.
  I know it is an election year. We are fewer than 100 days away from 
the election, and I know the floor of the Senate is used by both 
parties this close to the election. But I want to make it clear this 
President has a record of commitment to protecting the men and women 
who gather intelligence for America. He has a record of prosecuting 
more suspects for leaks of this information than any other President in 
history. He has, through his Attorney General, appointed two career 
criminal prosecutors to look into this case and said they will have the 
resources and authority they need to get to the bottom of it. That is 
the way to do it.
  Will the day come when we say perhaps a special counsel is needed? I 
will not ever rule that out. Perhaps that day will come. But it is 
wrong to come to the floor and question this President's commitment to 
our intelligence community. It is wrong to come to the floor and 
question the credentials of these two men who have performed so well in 
the service of the Department of Justice in years gone by.
  I thought Senator McCain was going to make a unanimous consent 
request. If he wishes to, let me yield to him at this point.
  Mr. McCAIN. I would be glad to respond to my friend.
  First of all, obviously, he is in disagreement with the chairperson 
of the Intelligence Committee because she said these leaks were the 
worst in the 11 years she has been a member of the Senate Intelligence 
Committee. So, obviously, the Abramoff and the Valerie Plame 
investigations are not nearly as serious, and they certainly were not 
when we look at the incredible damage, according to Admiral McRaven, 
according to anyone who is an observer of the incredible damage these 
leaks have caused.
  Again, the chairperson of the Intelligence Committee said it is the 
worst she has ever seen. Admiral McRaven, as I said, said these have 
put lives at risk and may ultimately cost Americans their lives.
  I wonder if my colleague from Illinois is concerned when, according 
to his book, Mr. Sanger said: ``A senior official in the National 
Security Council'' tapped him on the shoulder and brought him to the 
Presidential suite in the Pittsburgh hotel where President Obama was 
staying, and--I am quoting from Mr. Sanger's book--where ``most of the 
rest of the national security staff was present.'' There, the 
journalist was apparently allowed to review satellite images and other 
``evidence'' that confirmed the existence of a secret nuclear site in 
  When leaks take place around this town, the first question you have 
to ask is, Who benefits? Who benefits from them? Obviously someone who 
wants to take a journalist up to the presidential suite would make it 

[[Page S5822]]

easy for us to narrow down whom we should interview first. Who had the 
key to the presidential suite? Who uses the presidential suite in a 
hotel in Pittsburgh? These leaks are the most damaging that have taken 
place in my time in the Senate and before that in the U.S. military. 
Yes, six people have been prosecuted. Do you know at what level? A 
private. The lowest level people have been prosecuted by this 
administration. And this administration says they have to interview 
hundreds of people in the bottom-up process.
  I can guarantee you one thing, I will tell the Senator from Illinois 
now, there will not be any definitive conclusion in the investigation 
before the election in November. That does not mean to me that they are 
not doing their job, although it is clear that one of these prosecutors 
was active in the Obama campaign, was a contributor to the Obama 
campaign. I am not saying that individual is not of the highest 
caliber. I am saying that would lead people to ask a reasonable 
question, and that is whether that individual is entirely objective.
  Americans need an objective investigation by someone they can trust, 
just as then-Senator Biden and then-Senator Obama asked for in these 
previous incidents, which, in my view, were far less serious and, in 
the view of the chairperson of the Intelligence Committee, are far more 
severe than those that were previously investigated. I would be glad to 
have my colleague respond to that.
  Mr. DURBIN. First, let me say that whatever the rank of the 
individual--private, specialist, chief petty officer--if they are 
responsible for leaking classified information, they need to be 
investigated and prosecuted, if guilty.
  Mr. McCAIN. Absolutely.
  Mr. DURBIN. So the fact that a private is being investigated should 
not get him off the hook. I would----
  Mr. McCAIN. I do not think it gets him off the hook. I think it has 
some significance as compared to this kind of egregious breach of 
security that has taken place at the highest level. We know that.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would say to my friend from Arizona, if I am not 
mistaken, it was a noncommissioned officer at best and maybe not an 
officer in the Army who is being prosecuted for the Wiki leaks. So 
let's not say that the rank of anyone being prosecuted in any way makes 
them guilty or innocent. We need to go to the source of the leak.
  Mr. McCAIN. No. But my friend would obviously acknowledge that if it 
is a private or a corporal or something, it has not nearly the gravity 
it does when a person with whom the Nation has placed much higher 
responsibilities commits this kind of breach.
  Mr. DURBIN. Of course. It should be taken to where it leads, period. 
But let me also ask--I do not know if quoting from a book on the floor 
means what was written in that book is necessarily true. Perhaps the 
Senator has his own independent information on that.
  Mr. McCAIN. But no one has challenged Mr. Sanger's depiction. No one 
in the administration has challenged his assertion that he was taken by 
``a senior official in the National Security Council to the 
presidential suite.'' No one has challenged that.
  Mr. DURBIN. I would say to the Senator, I do not know if that has to 
do with the information that was ultimately leaked about al-Qaida. It 
seems as though it is a separate matter. But it should be taken 
seriously, period. What more does this President need to do to convince 
you other than to have more prosecutions than any President in history 
of those who have been believed to have leaked classified information?
  If you will come to the floor, as you said earlier--and I quote, the 
investigation is ``supposedly going on.'' I trust the administration 
that the investigation is going on. What evidence does the Senator have 
that it is not going on?
  Mr. McCAIN. I say to my friend, it is not a matter of trust, it is a 
matter of credibility because if an administration has the same 
argument that then-Senator Biden used and Senator Obama used in 
opposition to the administration investigating the Abramoff case and 
the Valerie Plame case--they argued that it is not a matter of trust, 
it is a matter of credibility with the American people whether an 
administration can actually investigate itself or should there be a 
credible outside counsel who would conduct this investigation, which 
would then have the necessary credibility, I think, with the American 
people. I think that there is a certain logic to that, I hope my 
colleague would admit.
  Mr. DURBIN. Let me say to the Senator that in that case, the Attorney 
General of the United States, John Ashcroft, recused himself--recused 
himself. He said there was such an appearance of a conflict, if not a 
conflict, he was stepping aside. It is very clear under those 
circumstances that a special counsel is needed. In this case, there is 
no suggestion that the President, the Vice President, or the Attorney 
General was complicit in any leak. So to suggest otherwise, I have to 
say to Senator McCain, show me what you are bringing as proof.
  Mr. McCAIN. I am bringing you proof that this Attorney General has a 
significant credibility problem, and that problem is bred by a program 
called Fast and Furious where weapons were--under a program sponsored 
by the Justice Department----
  Mr. DURBIN. When did the program begin?
  Mr. McCAIN. Let me just finish my comment. A young American Border 
Patrol agent was murdered with weapons that were part of the Fast and 
Furious investigation. What has the Attorney General of the United 
States done? He has said that he will not come forward with any 
information that is requested by my colleagues in the House.
  So I would have to say that, at least in the House of Representatives 
and with many Americans and certainly with the family of Brian Terry, 
who was murdered, there is a credibility problem with this Attorney 
General of the United States.
  Mr. DURBIN. I say to my colleague and friend Senator McCain, I deeply 
regret the loss of any American life, particularly those in service of 
our country.
  Mr. McCAIN. I am convinced of that.
  Mr. DURBIN. And I feel exactly that about this individual and the 
loss to his family. But let's make sure the record is complete. The 
Fast and Furious program was not initiated by President Obama, it was 
started by President George W. Bush.
  Mr. McCAIN. Which, in my view, does not in any way impact the need 
for a full and complete investigation.
  Mr. DURBIN. Secondly, this Attorney General, Mr. Holder, has been 
brought before congressional committees time after time. I have been in 
the Senate Judiciary Committee when he has been questioned at length 
about Fast and Furious, and I am sure he has been called even more 
frequently before the House committees.
  Third, he has produced around 9,000 pages of documents, and Chairman 
Issa keeps saying: Not enough. We need more. Well, at some point it 
becomes clear he will never produce enough documents for them. And the 
House decided to find him in contempt for that. That is their decision. 
I do not think that was necessarily proper.
  But having said that, does that mean every decision from the 
Department of Justice from this point forward cannot be trusted?
  Mr. McCAIN. No. But what I am saying is that there is a significant 
credibility problem that the Attorney General of the United States has, 
at least with a majority of the House of Representatives----
  Mr. DURBIN. The Republican majority.
  Mr. McCAIN. On this issue, which then lends more weight to the 
argument, as there was in the case of Valerie Plame and Jack Abramoff, 
for the need for a special counsel.
  Mr. DURBIN. I do not see the connection. If the Attorney General and 
the President said: We are not going to investigate this matter, 
Senator McCain, I would be standing right next to the Senator on the 
floor calling for a special counsel. But they have said just the 
opposite. They have initiated an investigation and brought in two 
career criminal prosecutors whom we have trusted to take public 
corruption cases in the District of Columbia and leaks of classified 
information in other cases. And he said: Now you have the authority. 
Conduct the investigation.
  They are not ignoring this.
  Mr. McCAIN. Those two counsels report to whom? The Attorney General 
of the United States.

[[Page S5823]]

  Mr. DURBIN. And ultimately report to the people.
  Mr. McCAIN. So I would think, just for purposes of credibility with 
the American people, that a special counsel would be called for by 
almost everyone.
  Look, I understand the position of the Senator from Illinois. We have 
our colleagues waiting. I appreciate the fact that he is willing to 
discuss this issue. I think we have pretty well exhausted it.