In a Justice Department oversight hearing in the House Judiciary Committee, chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) rebuked the department for not enforcing subpoenas, saying that it was validating the concept of total immunity for officials, including former White House aide Carl Rove.
Congress is seeking information on Rove's involvement in the leak of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the news media.
"We have been waiting months and months" to obtain documents on obstruction of justice, Conyers said. "This delay is unacceptable.”
Addressing Attorney General Michael Mukasey, Conyers said the attorney general was continuing the "unfortunate tradition" of not appointing a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of obstruction of justice.
The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform also subpoenaed Mukasey for documents related to the outing of Plame after the White House refused to provide them.
Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) began reviving an investigation into the Plame incident and Rove’s and others' involvement after former White House press secretary Scott McClellan suggested in various media interviews for his new book that he had been part of a White House misinformation campaign.
Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking member of the Judiciary committee, followed Conyers by saying that the committee should be paying attention to other matters, like clear guidance on the detention of known terrorists after the Supreme Court decision granting rights to Guantanamo detainees. Smith also pitched an effort to require retention of subscriber records by Internet providers to help combat cybercrimes and toughening intellectual property protections.
Howard Coble (R-N.C.) raised the intellectual-property issue, as well, asking for any evidence of links between IP crimes and terrorists. Mukasey said organized crime was increasingly involved in IP crimes. Foreign governments and nongovernments, including terrorist organizations, are getting more involved because of the value of that intellectual property, he said, adding he would have to provide details in written responses.