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Taps For Independent Counsels?

The law authorizing independent counsels like Kenneth Starr to investigate high-level government wrongdoing expires in June unless Congress renews it, reports CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer.

And on Tuesday, the No. 2 man in the Clinton Justice Department was the latest in a long line of Democrats and Republicans who were saying: "Let it die."

"Public confidence in the administration of justice in these high-profile cases has been undermined rather than enhanced," said Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder.

When Congress wrote the Independent Counsel law after Richard Nixon fired Watergate Investigator Archibald Cox, it envisioned prosecutors who could investigate corruption free of political pressure.

Some like Lawrence Walsh, who tracked secret arms sales to Iran, got multiple convictions and guilty pleas. Others like Donald Schmaltz investigated former Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and got nowhere.

Republicans never liked the concept and Starr's investigation soured Democrats, uniting critics who believed a monster had been created - a prosecutor with unlimited funds accountable to no one.

On Tuesday, Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., noted what may be the final irony of the Clinton investigation, "that Kenneth W. Starr may have been the person who single handedly kiiled the law that authorized his five-year pursuit of a sitting president of the United States."

Even Rep. Henry Hyde, R-Ill., who led the drive to impeach the president, is ready to let the law expire. And all signs are that it will. Which means that Starr - the most controversial of all the independent counsels - may well be the last.

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