Washington, DC—Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made the following statement today on the floor of the U.S. Senate, calling for a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the destroyed tapes of CIA interrogations. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“As the end of 2007 continues to draw near, we have a busy week ahead of us. We hope to complete action on the appropriations process, which will require the White House, along with House and Senate Republicans, to be reasonable in the pursuit of common ground.
“We will work to complete the energy bill with a bipartisan compromise that will take our country toward lower energy prices for consumers and a cleaner environment. And we will work to complete FISA legislation to ensure we have the tools to fight terrorism with fair and Constitutional tools. And pass a Continuing Resolution by Friday to keep the government open. I look forward to a productive week of bipartisan progress.
“But I would like to speak this morning about another issue that concerns not just Democrats, but members of both parties and all Americans. It is often said that a man has nothing but his reputation, his honor, and his integrity. This is true, not just for men, but for countries as well.
“In a thousand years, when historians write the story of these early days of America, they will of course write about our great cities, our military and our economy. But the real story will be of a young nation – unique among its global peers – because it stood for liberty and justice, not just with words but with deeds. The true measure of America is our moral authority.
“But over the past seven years, that authority has been damaged. A war in Iraq that did not have to be waged. A CIA agent exposed to harm for telling the truth. A Justice Department in shambles. The treatment of prisoners held up to no standard except the daily whims of a few. And now, word that the CIA destroyed tapes from some of those interrogations.
“This damage to our moral authority will matter to the history books, but more importantly, it matters right now. It puts our troops at greater risk if captured. It impairs our relationships with nations who ought to be our allies. It impedes our ability to fight an effective war on terror.
“This latest news of destroyed tapes raises far more questions than we have answers. Who was responsible for destroying the tapes? Was something being covered up? The possibility of obstruction of justice is very real. The American people deserve a full accounting for what took place and answers for all those questions.
“Chairman Rockefeller has launched an investigation in the Senate Intelligence Committee. Attorney General Mukasey has launched an inquiry. I expect both of these investigations to aggressively pursue the answers to every question. But the CIA, the Justice Department, the Bush White House and every American should know that if these investigations encounter resistance or are unable to find the truth, I will not hesitate to add my voice to those calling for a special counsel. We must take every step necessary to protect our country’s integrity and defend our moral authority.”