Office of the Independent Counsel

A Primer

Why and how were independent counsels appointed? What was their jurisdiction? How was their investigative process supposed to work? Here's a short summary, including an explanatory diagram.

The Law that Created It

Born out of the Watergate scandal two decades ago, the institution of the independent counsel was created to handle politically sensitive investigations and prosecutions involving the nation's highest government officials. Here's a brief history.

SAm Dash

The former chief counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee is considered the "father of the independent counsel law." Dash now teaches law at Georgetown University and served until November 1998 as Ethics Advisor to Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr.

Phil Heymann

Heymann was a top assistant to Watergate Special Prosecutor Archie Cox. He later served in the Justice Department during the Carter Administration and, in 1993, held the number two post at the Department under Janet Reno. He left Justice in 1994 and now teaches law at Harvard University.

The  Prosecutor's Playbook

Explanations of standard prosecutorial techniques used by independent counsels and other prosecutors.


Profiles of  Six Other Investigations

Besides Donald Smaltz, here are summaries of the investigations of the other special prosecutors appointed since the independent counsel law's re-enactment in 1994. In all, there have been six others during the Clinton Administration.

Also, a chart of all investigations conducted under the independent counsel statute since its inception in 1978.
GAO reports on IC costs

A listing of costs incurred by independent counsels active from 1994-1997.


Should the Office be Abolished?

The case for and against -- from Sam Dash, Donald Smaltz, Paul Fishman, former deputy to Attorney General Janet Reno, and Phil Heymann, top assistant to Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.


What is the Special Division?

An explanation of the three-judge panel which choses and appointed independent counsels.

 


home .  donald smaltz & the espy case .  office of the independent counsel .  readings .  discussion
synopsis .  tapes & transcripts .  press reactions
frontline online .  wgbh .  pbs online

web site copyright 1995-2014 WGBH educational foundation

 

SUPPORT PROVIDED BY

FRONTLINE on

ShopPBS