LET'S CLOSE DOWN THE WALSH INVESTIGATION -- HON. WM. S. BROOMFIELD (Extension of Remarks - June 03, 1991)
HON. WM. S. BROOMFIELD
in the House of Representatives
MONDAY, JUNE 3, 1991
- Mr. BROOMFIELD. Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues who were fortunate to have read Charles Dickens when they were growing up may remember a novel called `Bleak House.'
- It concerned a case he called Jarndyce versus Jarndyce, which went through the courts for generations, ruined lives, destroyed reputations, drove people literally insane, enriched lawyers, and after all that, never got resolved.
- The modern day sequel to that case is being prosecuted by Independent Counsel Lawrence Walsh. The cases against the so-called Iran Contra defendants have now dragged on for the better part of 5 years--longer than the American Civil War, have cost the taxpayer as much as $35 million, and in the end will have done little but enrich a bunch of lawyers.
- Four years ago, when the congressional investigation of the Iran Contra affair was winding down, I said that the investigation went on too long and yielded too few results. Nothing that's happened since then has changed my judgment.
- Last Monday the Supreme Court made a ruling which one might have hoped would put an end to this legal farce. Yet it appears that even in the face of hopeless odds, Mr. Walsh will hunker down and drag the defendants through the mud as long as he can.
- Last July 24, I wrote Attorney General Richard Thornburgh to begin actions to terminate the office of Independent Counsel in this case.
- I pointed out in the letter that the `Iran Contra affair has been thoroughly investigated; we've paid for two congressional committees, a Presidential Commission, and an independent counsel; and scores of lawyers, accountants and investigators have pored over the documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses, and issued report after report.'
- Last Thursday, I sent a new letter to the Attorney General urging him once again to begin actions to terminate Mr. Walsh. This time I believe the message will carry additional gravity because it is cosigned by some of the most senior Members in the House of Representatives.
- The cosigners were my colleagues, Congressmen Robert H. Michel, Newt Gingrich, Gerald Solomon, Jerry Lewis, Guy Vander Jagt, Bill Dannemeyer, Henry Hyde, Robert Dornan, Tom Bliley, Bill McCollum, Mike Oxley, Mickey Edwards, Duncan Hunter, and Vin Weber.
- If ever there were a right moment to fire Mr. Walsh, this is it. In light of last Monday's Supreme Court ruling I
suspect Mr. Walsh might even privately welcome such an outcome.
With his termination papers in hand, he could argue for years to come that if only he had a few more months or years to pursue the cases, if only the Supreme Court hadn't raised all those constitutional hurdles, if only * * *.
The fate of these cases was decided from the very beginning. In the wake of the Iran Contra revelations, there were two alternatives. The allegations could have been pursued through the courts and those convicted, if any, thrown in jail, thereby sending a message to other public servants that they are just as liable to be prosecuted for crimes as anyone else in America.
The second alternative was to publicize the entire affair through televised congressional hearings.
I believe that just about anyone associated with this case knew full well from the beginning that you could do either, but you could not do both.
Mr. Walsh's case was poisoned from the very outset by the congressional hearings. The fact that he has elected to pursue this case for almost 5 years, with the promise of little more in the way of results than ruined reputations and personal bankruptcies for the defendants, is I believe one of the greatest injustices ever perpetrated by the American legal system. What started as a prosecution has turned into a persecution.
There's a time for everything under the Sun, and Mr. Walsh's time has come and gone. Let's wrap this case up, send all those lawyers back into productive jobs, and get this thing behind us.
I believe it is also incumbent on the Congress to ensure that such a legal injustice not happen again. Last year I introduced legislation that would create a 2-year sunset provision for the appointment of an independent counsel, unless an extension is approved.
The bill will make sure that future special prosecutors are not able to conduct endless fishing expeditions.
Among the 19 cosponsors of the bill were all 4 Republican Members serving at that time in Congress who had also served with me on the Iran Contra Committee. They were Congressmen Henry Hyde, Bill McCollum, James Courter, and Michael DeWine.
I hope that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will become cosponsors of this important legislation. Only by enacting such a law can we be confident that future special prosecutors will be encouraged to pursue unbiased and thorough investigations of criminal activities against senior Government officials in a prompt, responsible, and cost-effective manner.