Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and William Cohen, R-Maine, probably have no expectation that their bill extending the law authorizing special prosecutors or independent counsels will be enacted. After 14 years, this is an idea whose time has obviously come and gone.
One reason is that one case has occupied a special prosecutor for nearly half the life of the law. Lawrence Walsh and his subordinates have been investigating the Iran-contra affair for over five-and-a-half years. Many members of Congress oppose keeping the law on the books because they believe this case shows that a special prosecutor with explicit statutory authorization can become completely and dangerously out of control of the political and judicial systems.
Another reason for the fact that the law is going to be allowed to expire this year is that Senators Levin and Cohen have proposed making it apply to members of Congress. The home of the House of Representatives Bank and Post Office and of the Keating Five senators is not anxious to have a dogged, unrestrained "Inspector" Walsh type on their case.