Democrats are raising the heat on the White House's role in the outing of a CIA agent, issuing a letter to the press from 26 Democratic senators and holding a 4:30 press conference on the role of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
They're irritated that Congress has refused to hold hearings on the matter. Behind the scenes, Democratic staffers are privately expressing their frustration.
"Republicans in the House issued over a 1,000 subpoenas for information from the White House during the Clinton years," one aide told RAW STORY. "Today, those Republicans just sit there doing nothing to get to the bottom of a potential felony.
"If [Senate Majority Leader] Bill First's phones started ringing about it, demanding him to hold his own accountable, the Republicans in the House and Senate might just be shamed into action," the aide added.
The release for the letter issued to Republican Congressional leaders follows.
Senators Urge Congressional Investigation Into Leak of CIA Agent Valerie Plame's Name
Today, Senator John Kerry; Senator Carl Levin, Ranking Member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; and 24 other Senators formally requested that Congress investigate the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity -- a leak a senior administration official described at the time as "meant purely and simply for revenge."
"Americans deserve a Congress that holds Washington accountable for the truth about our national security. Can anyone argue with a straight face that Congress has time to look at steroid use in baseball but doesn't have the will to provide congressional oversight of the leak of a CIA agent's name? It's long past time to stop putting politics ahead of the public good, get to the bottom of a national security breach and restore credibility to Washington," said John Kerry, who authored the letter.
Below is the text of the letter sent today:
Dear Mr. Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader:
The press has reported on information strongly suggesting that senior Administration officials, including White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and the Vice President's Chief of Staff Lewis Libby, exposed the identity of American intelligence operative Valerie Plame, despite the repeated denial of the White House at the time.
The public revelation of Ms. Plame's identity, whether it amounts to a crime or an irresponsible breach of security protocol that doesn't meet the standard of criminal conduct, almost certainly compromised her intelligence networks and may have compromised the safety and welfare of anyone who had worked with her overseas. As a group of respected former intelligence officials wrote in 2004: "Any breach of the code of confidentiality and cover weakens the overall fabric of intelligence, and, directly or indirectly, jeopardizes the work and safety of intelligence workers and their sources."
The United States Congress has a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the executive branch, whether a law has been broken or not. It is time for Congress to fulfill that constitutional responsibility in this matter by initiating a thorough investigation.
We recognize that a criminal investigation is underway and that a special prosecutor continues to present testimony before a grand jury. These actions in no way preclude Congress' responsibility to provide oversight. We urge you to exercise your authority as Congressional leaders by requesting the appropriate committees to begin oversight hearings and an investigation immediately.