Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Senate Closed For Business

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate held a rare closed session for a couple of hours initiated by the Democratic leadership. The constitutional rule invoked (Rule 21, est. 1795) is known as a “secret session” because all visitors and cameras are required to vacate the Congressional chambers and forces a meeting of all members of the law making body. The most vocal during the meeting were Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid, who invoked the rule without bipartisan support, and Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist, who called the event a “stunt” and that the Senate was hijacked by the Democrats. Nonetheless, the Senate members agreed to monitor the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into pre-Iraq War intelligence as a result of the Democrats calling attention to the issue. The six member bipartisan task force was formed and agreed to report back on the progress of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation of prewar intelligence on November 14.

Republican Senator Pat Roberts is the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee and completed phase one of the investigation last year, producing a 511 page document on intelligence flaws used to justify the Iraq war, and promised to complete a second phase to cover additional issues not covered in the initial report. Senator Reid wanted assurances that the second phase would actually be completed without further delay by Republicans, which motivated him to call the secret session. Roberts claimed the committed intended to complete phase two by the end of next week anyway.

The timing of this by the Democrats was obviously intended to magnify the recent indictment of Scooter Libby and the ongoing CIA leak investigation that still includes Karl Rove. They felt the Administration had used the Alito nomination to detract media attention from the indictment, which it did, so accusations of playing politics is a fair charge for both sides. Exaggeration of prewar intelligence and cherry picking precarious evidence to support the claims of weapons of mass destruction and their related programs presence in Saddam’s Iraq should remain an issue as long as this war drags on. There is no denying the strong evidence coming from the Downing Street Memo as well as former Administration officials’ revelations of a neoconservative kabal to manipulate prewar intelligence to serve the goals of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). This Administration’s hostility towards internal dissent is truly unprecedented and disturbing. The Democrats should have invoked a secret session a long time ago to speed the investigation along and bring it out for public scrutiny.

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