WASHINGTON – More than two dozen Democratic senators on Monday asked Congress to investigate the leak of a CIA officer's identity.
"Americans deserve a Congress that holds Washington accountable for the truth about our national security," said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who authored the letter. "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?"
The letter, sent to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., said the disclosure of CIA officer Valerie Plame's (search)s name most likely compromised her safety.
"The United States Congress has a constitutional responsibility to provide oversight of the executive branch, whether a law has been broken or not," the letter said. "It is time for Congress to fulfill that constitutional responsibility in this matter by initiating a thorough investigation."
The letter cited information reported in the press suggesting that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove (search) and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff — Lewis Libby (search) — exposed Plame's identity.
The leaking of Plame's identity in 2003 followed public criticism leveled against the Bush White House by Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson (search). He suggested the administration had manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq. A criminal investigation into the leaks is ongoing.
Among the senators who signed the bill were Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York, Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein of California and Dick Durbin and Barack Obama of Illinois.
Lautenberg introduced a "Web Calendar" being used by Democrats to show the number of days that have passed "since the White House leaked the identity of a CIA agent," the senator said.
"There is no oversight of the White House in this Congress," Lautenberg said. "None — it's a free pass. And that is dangerous for the country."
Lautenberg also spoke on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' (search) statement Sunday that he notified White House chief of staff Andy Card after the Justice Department opened an investigation into who disclosed Plame's identity, but waited 12 hours to tell anyone else in the administration.
"Was there a 12-hour shredding party at the White House that night?" Lautenberg asked. "We don't know, but I hope that the prosecutor examines this troubling disclosure."