Congressional Record: January 27, 2004 (Senate)
Page S265-S266


  Mr. DASCHLE. Mr. President, I wish to address an issue that I think 
deserves even greater attention in the Senate. It has been 6 months now 
since a senior White House official publicly disclosed one of this 
Nation's most protected and valuable national security secrets: the 
identity of an intelligence operative. This act of political 
retribution not only placed at risk the life of an intelligence 
operative, it put at risk the security of every American.
  In the war on terrorism, the importance of intelligence agents to our 
national security simply cannot be overstated. Human intelligence is 
our best weapon against terrorists. By revealing the name of this 
operative, the senior White House official or officials responsible 
acted in an unprecedented manner to break a fundamental bond of trust 
that protects both the mission and the lives of intelligence officers.
  Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld summarized the stakes involved 
when he said:

       Leaks put people's lives at risk. And I think that the 
     people in any branch of Government have the obligation to 
     manage their mouths in a way that does not put people's lives 
     at risk. Folks that leak and put people's lives at risk ought 
     to be in jail.

[[Page S266]]

  Former President George H.W. Bush put it even more succinctly:

       I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray 
     the trust by exposing the names of our sources. They are, in 
     my view, the most insidious of traitors.

  While Republicans, including President Bush and members of his 
Cabinet, have been quick to condemn the act of leaking sensitive 
information, it took the Justice Department nearly 3 months after this 
leak to announce it was launching an investigation.
  Several more months ensued before Attorney General Ashcroft, in 
response to criticism about a potential conflict of interest, removed 
himself from heading up the investigation and turned it over to another 
Justice Department attorney. Not surprisingly then, given these twists 
and turns, the identity of the leaker remains unknown to this day.
  Last week, unsatisfied with its apparent lack of progress, a group of 
former intelligence officers asked Congress to open an immediate 
inquiry into the disclosure of Valerie Plame's name to the media. They 

       The disclosure of Ms. Plame's name was an unprecedented and 
     shameful event in American history, and, in our professional 
     judgment, has damaged U.S. national security, specifically 
     the effectiveness of U.S. intelligence gathering using human 

  These former intelligence officers took this extraordinary step 
because they feared that the Justice Department investigation underway 
may not uncover those responsible or may attempt to explain away the 
incident as little more than an unfortunate event that does not rise to 
the level of criminal behavior.
  No American--Democrat or Republican--can afford to allow this affair 
to be swept under the rug. The cloud of uncertainty hangs over our 
intelligence community. Intelligence agents report growing fear that 
the community is increasingly viewed as a political tool rather than as 
an instrument of independent and objective discovery and analysis.
  Too many agents and analysts are beginning to wonder what will happen 
to them if they come forward with facts or analyses that contradict 
official policies of the administration.
  In addition to affecting their work, we should all be concerned about 
the chilling effect this could have on the willingness of foreign 
nationals to cooperate with our agents if they, too, come to fear their 
identities could come to be disclosed. These fears are justified. 
Leaking the names of covert agents or other intelligence assets 
represents a direct assault on our intelligence community and our 
ability to work with foreign agencies and assets.
  The nature of intelligence officers' work prevents them from ever 
receiving from the American people the recognition or thanks they 
deserve. In fact, despite the incredible risks they assume on our 
behalf, they do not ask for recognition or thanks. All they ask is that 
we keep faith with them and offer them the protection they need to do 
their jobs.
  Someone in the White House betrayed that trust, and we owe it to 
every intelligence officer--indeed, to every American--to uncover the 
truth about this leak and punish those responsible to the fullest 
  In order to shed more light, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, 
several colleagues, and myself have requested that the GAO investigate 
whether or not the White House complied with the administrative 
requirements to safeguard classified information in the case of CIA 
operative Valerie Plame.
  This investigation is fundamentally different from the Justice 
Department investigation currently underway. That investigation will 
assess whether any criminal statutes have been violated.
  We have asked the GAO to assess a separate, yet equally important, 
question of whether the White House followed appropriate internal 
administrative procedures protecting Ms. Plame's identity and 
responding to the leak once it occurred.
  In order to safeguard the lives of our intelligence agents and the 
integrity of our intelligence process, we have an obligation to 
discover the truth about this affair and hold those responsible 
  Yesterday at this time I discussed the growing consensus that Iraq 
did not, in fact, have weapons of mass destruction prior to the start 
of the war, as we had been told.
  I said then and I will say today, every Member of this body has a 
responsibility to review matters such as these and see that this Senate 
lives up to its obligations. We simply cannot afford to ignore what 
happened, why it happened, and our own responsibility to ensure that it 
does not happen again.
  The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator from Arizona.
  Mr. McCAIN. Mr. President, before I address the legislation at hand, 
I will make a brief response to the distinguished Democrat leader's 
statement concerning our efforts in Iraq and weapons of mass 
destruction. I think the Senator from South Dakota has a legitimate 
point in that there needs to be a thorough evaluation of the 
intelligence and what happened that led us to believe that perhaps some 
of that information was incorrect. I point out, again, that I am very 
pleased to note that the overwhelming majority of the American people 
still believe we did the right thing in Iraq. There is very little 
doubt in anyone's mind, including the previous administration's 
statements, that Saddam Hussein had acquired weapons of mass 
destruction, used weapons of mass destruction, and there is no doubt in 
this Senator's mind that if he were still in power he would be 
attempting to acquire weapons of mass destruction.
  Certainly we need to find out all the elements that went into the 
estimates concerning weapons of mass destruction, but at the same time 
there is a clear record in statements made by the previous President, 
as well as this President, concerning Saddam Hussein's intentions.
  Mr. REID. Mr. President, I wish to say very briefly that Senator 
Daschle's statement regarding the leaking of the name of the 
informant--someone who worked for the CIA--had nothing to do about 
whether there were or were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 
Senator Daschle had to leave but he wanted to make sure I made the 
record clear. His statement had no reflection on whether there were or 
were not weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His statement simply 
relates to the fact that there simply should be an investigation into 
who leaked the most sensitive information regarding someone who worked 
for the CIA.