WASHINGTON – Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Ranking Member Joe Lieberman, D-Conn., today called upon Deputy Attorney General Comey to relinquish his authority to limit or interfere with the investigation into the unauthorized disclosure of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity. Lieberman also urged the President to personally call upon each and every White House employee to cooperate fully with the new Special Counsel and state emphatically that he wants to get to the bottom of this leak.
“Yesterday’s announcement did little to change the underlying problems with this investigation. There is still no real independence and autonomy. The White House still isn’t acting like it wants to know the truth about the unauthorized disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity. “The fact is, the appointment of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to be Special Counsel in the investigation does not sufficiently address the need for a truly independent and vigorous investigation into this serious matter. To remove any implication of direct or subtle pressures, the Special Counsels appointed in the past were respected former prosecutors from outside the government, not political appointees answering to the Attorney General and the President in any of their duties. “Of even greater concern, recently promulgated Department of Justice regulations ensure that Mr. Fitzgerald will not enjoy the autonomy he needs. In essence, the Deputy Attorney General retains the ability to micro-manage the inquiry, including blocking any decision taken by the Special Counsel to pursue an indictment or prosecution. “The ideal solution, as I had said before, would be to quickly reinstate a reformed version of the Independent Counsel law that I introduced earlier this year. But at a minimum the Justice Department can and should take the following measures to ensure this investigation is as independent as possible and free of political interference. “First, President Bush personally must immediately call on all White House staff to cooperate to the fullest extent with the inquiry. “Second, Deputy Attorney General Comey must endow the new Special Counsel with a grant of independence, jurisdiction and authority comparable at least to what past Special Counsels have enjoyed. “Third, the Department of Justice must provide the Special Counsel with sufficient funding and staff up front, to ensure the investigation cannot be thwarted by withholding necessary resources. “Fourth, as part of the investigation, or simultaneous with it, it is essential that the Special Counsel or Inspector General of the Central Intelligence Agency evaluate the impact of the unauthorized disclosure on the intelligence community and propose recommendations for the future.”