Mr. SIMPSON. Mr. President, I rise to speak with no small degree of frustration and disgust over the persecution--and that is the word I will use, it is certainly not independent prosecution--in the Iran-Contra matter.
This multi-million-dollar fishing expedition has now focused on Caspar Weinberger, a man who has throughout his entire life dedicated himself to unstinting and unselfish service to his country. He has an absolutely extraordinary record of service. And in this highly contentious political year we are seeing yet one more character attack on one of our country's most distinguished and able former Secretaries of Defense.
This is a remarkable man. I know him well. He and his wife Jane are superb citizens of our country. He is decent,
strong, fair, loyal, and is bright as a dollar. He has a record of public life that has always been absolutely unsullied. And now this--a witch hunt at the witching hour. The witching hour happened to be the expiration of the statute of limitations on the special counsel proceeding.
I think the American people will ultimately see this seemingly unending investigation to be an incredibly expensive and expansive abuse of power. I agree with what our fine distinguished Republican leader Bob Dole said previously: `It is time we imposed term limits on these Special Prosecutors.' I agree with that totally. This one has lasted too long, yielded precious little, and wasted millions of taxpayers' dollars.
It is my hunch the American people are plain tired of this endless charade. For over the past 6 years, Congress has spent at least $31 million on this crusade.
Let us take a look at the track record, keep your eye on the rabbit. There have been two convictions, principally for under reporting earnings to the IRS. Those are the felony successes of this office.
On other charges among seven other defendants--I put that in quotation marks, `defendants'--the Special Prosecutor was able to obtain guilty pleas to misdemeanor charges netting the American people slightly over 300 hours of community service. That is a dazzling record--300 hours of community service for the seven other defendants.
By some estimates, the American taxpayers have now spent $60 million to net this remarkable 300 hours' worth of community service, not to mention the benefit of keeping a political agenda alive in a political year and keeping a handful of lawyers exceedingly well paid. That figure of $31 million is the Special Prosecutor's Office own estimate. It has been reported that the Federal Government actually spent up to twice that much--$60 million--when you add in the attorney fees all around.
That works out to a taxpayer payment of $200,000 for each hour of community service, which I think is a little bit disproportionate. Not even some of our finest corporate officers make that much in an hour.
Mr. President, it is estimated that the Special Prosecutor will now need another $10 million to prosecute Cap Weinberger. That, Mr. President, is outrageous. I think it is time we demand that those overzealous attorneys get some real jobs and get on with their lives, wherever that may take them, away from the Federal breast.
Something else has really fascinated me. In Washington, DC, if I have been assessing things correctly in the last few days we have received about 7 metric tons of news coverage about Watergate, the 20th anniversary thereof. Who did what, when, how, where, at what time, at what location within the community with graphs to accompany the travail. It is all very interesting.
I thought what was most fascinating about this insular village on the Potomac is the headline from the Washington Post of Wednesday, June 17. In large type in the middle or near the middle of the page it said `Bush, Yeltsin Agree on Massive Nuclear Cuts. All Multiple-Warhead ICBM's to Be Eliminated.' The people of the world have been waiting for that for over 40 years.
Is that the main headline? No; it is not. You guessed it. The headline is this remarkable one,
`Weinberger Indicted on Five Counts, Ex-Defense Secretary Charged With Lying in the Iran-Contra Affair.' Then there is his picture. Is that not a twisted set of priorities? It is also, in my view, a political agenda which has been expressed in those pages.
I believe that the Post has some very capable journalists specifically including George Lardner, Jr., and Walter Pincus. I know Walter Pincus and his able and delightful wife. They are very special people.
As far as I can think back, I believe that we have been involved in this issue for the most extraordinary amount of time. Yet when I go out in the land and hold town meetings, nobody ever asks about this at all. Not one soul has asked me about the Iran-Contra affair.
I remember another headline in an earlier Washington Post when it fell fecklessly into the pit the last time. It said, `No Smoking Gun Found.'
It almost had tear stains on the side of the column. No smoking gun was found.
Well, that is where we are with that peculiar emphasis and peculiar agenda regarding the Special Prosecutor on the Iran-Contra issue.
I thing it really deserves a recess. I am sure the Post, being the responsible newspaper which it is, with able people operating it, will print the letters to the editor that come to them on the issue of putting the Weinberger headline prominently at the top of the masthead instead of one of the most important items of news that we have all been ready to receive for four decades now.
The Special Prosecutor in this case has a lousy track record. It is time to put this entire matter to an end. It simply is not cost efficient or effective. This Special Prosecutor's Office has become a taxpayer-supported cash cow for a few highly unsuccessful lawyers, and some successful ones. I think we owe a duty to the American people to end this frivolous waste of Federal money. Furthermore, we should review the entire independent counsel statutes, and see where we go from here.
We do not wait 5 1/2 years until the clock is about to expire to drag a fine man across the coals just so someone will look as if they have not failed when in fact it is obvious they have.
It is a disgrace.
Thank you, Mr. President.