Awesome, Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed-door session
GOP Angered by Closed Senate SessionMeeting Reopened After Two Hours
By Charles Babington and Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, November 2, 2005; Page A01
Democrats forced the Senate into a rare closed-door session yesterday, infuriating Republicans but extracting from them a promise to speed up an inquiry into the Bush administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's weapons in the run-up to the war.
With no warning in the mid-afternoon, the Senate's top Democrat invoked the little-used Rule 21, which forced aides to turn off the chamber's cameras and close its massive doors after evicting all visitors, reporters and most staffers. Plans to bring in electronic-bug-sniffing dogs were dropped when it became clear that senators would trade barbs but discuss no classified information.Republicans condemned the Democrats' maneuver, which marked the first time in more than 25 years that one party had insisted on a closed session without consulting the other party. But within two hours, Republicans appointed a bipartisan panel to report on the progress of a Senate intelligence committee report on prewar intelligence, which Democrats say has been delayed for nearly a year.
"Finally, after months and months and months of begging, cajoling, writing letters, we're finally going to be able to have phase two of the investigation regarding how the intelligence was used to lead us into the intractable war in Iraq," Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters, claiming a rare victory for Democrats in the GOP-controlled Congress.
Beneath the political pyrotechnics was an issue that has infuriated liberals but flummoxed many of the Democratic lawmakers who voted three years ago to approve the war: allegations that administration officials exaggerated Iraq's weapons capabilities and terrorism ties and then resisted inquiries into the intelligence failures. Friday's indictment of top White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on perjury and obstruction charges gave Democrats a new opening to demand that more light be shed on these issues, including administration efforts to discredit a key critic of the prewar claims of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.
Democrats were dismayed that President Bush made no apologies after the indictment and that his naming of a new Supreme Court nominee Monday knocked the Libby story off many front pages. As he stood on the Senate floor to demand the closed session -- a motion not subject to a vote under the rule -- Reid said Libby's grand jury indictment "asserts this administration engaged in actions that both harmed our national security and are morally repugnant."
The usually unflappable majority leader, Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), was searching for words to express his outrage to reporters a few minutes later. The Senate "has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership," he said. "They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas." Never before had he been "slapped in the face with such an affront," he said, adding: "For the next year and a half, I can't trust Senator Reid."
Frist seemed much calmer when the closed session ended. He agreed to a six-senator bipartisan task force that will report by Nov. 14 on "the intelligence committee's progress of the phase two review of the prewar intelligence and its schedule for completion."
Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) said the report was nearing completion anyway, but Democrats disputed that. Committee Vice Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) began inquiring about the evidence against Iraq one week before U.S. troops invaded in March 2003. His interest was sparked by revelations that the Bush administration gave forged documents to U.N. weapons inspectors to support allegations that Iraq had sought to buy a key ingredient for nuclear weapons from the West African nation of Niger.
Roberts resisted a full investigation for three months. But in June 2003, when it became increasingly apparent that no weapons of mass destruction were being found in Iraq, the committee agreed to look into the intelligence cited in the administration's case for war. In February 2004, senators agreed to a second phase that would investigate the Bush administration's use of intelligence and examine public statements made by key policymakers about the threat posed by Iraq.
In July 2004, the committee issued the first phase of its bipartisan report, which found the U.S. intelligence community had assembled a deeply flawed and exaggerated assessment of Saddam Hussein's weapons capabilities. The second phase was to focus on the administration's deliberations over the intelligence or how it was used. Sources familiar with the committee's work said there has been little examination of these topics to date.
The Defense Department's Office of Special Plans stopped cooperating with the Senate panel in July of this year. Roberts said key officials hired lawyers and stopped talking when Rockefeller suggested laws may have been broken. But Democrats dismissed that as an excuse.
Authority to hold secret Senate sessions is provided in Article 1, Section 5 of the Constitution, and the Continental Congress met behind closed doors. But the practice has ebbed in recent years. The most recent closed Senate session was in February 1999 to deliberate President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial, according to the Congressional Research Service, and that was done through a bipartisan agreement.
Reid said he was forced to seek the closed session to spur action on the investigation. "The only way we've been able to get their attention is to spend 3 1/2 hours in a closed session," he said. "It's a slap in the face to the American people that this investigation has been stymied."
Rockefeller said Democratic requests for information related to the investigation are routinely denied or ignored, and he suggested that the Senate Republican leadership was under orders from the Bush administration not to cooperate.
"Any time the intelligence committee pursued a line of inquiry that brought us close to the role of the White House in all of this in the use of intelligence prior to the war, our efforts have been thwarted time and time again," Rockefeller said. "The very independence of the United States Congress as a separate and coequal branch of the government has been called into question."
Staff writer Shailagh Murray contributed to this report.
Could you maybe just give some insight why you think this is so awesome? Don't just post articles with no commentary. I think we are all reading the papers and watching the news.
PiaZitat von MaraC
See, and I thought you think it is awesome simply because the Dems did it... I guess you mean I already know where you stand and what you think... really? I hope you are not *that* rigid and predictable.
Hey, if you just want to post articles with no commentray, whatever. I am not making the rules. But it kind of defies a forum for discussion, no? Why are we here?
So, for me, it is a way of getting off the Supreme Court issue ("He had his day" was quoted in the paper this morning). It is a distraction, I do not think excluding the public is good in any sense at all. There is already a long, long report on the war out. It concluded that there was no "lies". No liberal spin is going to change that. Dingy Harry is grandstanding again.
You can read about it at factcheck.org.
I also think it's awesome, because it shows that there's more than one party in this country. Or at least that there is some kind of a checks and balances at work.
Here it also came up that WMD is old and dead and one shouldn't talk about it anymore. I think we should. Cause that was what made people vote for the war.
I don't think that you can just say that that was the intelligence information at that time, cause a lot of people didn't believe it.
And people like the husband of Valerie Plame didn't believe that Saddam had plans to build nuclear weapons in Africa. The Italien Prime Minister said he had warned Bush. A lot of other people warned him.
The administration gave out wrong information and fooled people into a war.
Okay, it might have been bad intelligence. But it's the job of an administration to proove things like that. To me the administration had greater responsibilies here than the intelligence.
Oh and regarding the Supreme Court Issue. Don't you think Bush was following the same tactics? By announcing someone he had the Scooter Libby issue out of the front page. I mean first they say, they won't announce someone till about december and then whooops here's the next one.
Caesar_MGZitat von Stephie_80
Zitat von Stephie_80
Bottom line: it's grandstanding. And guess where it gets the country and the war effort: nowhere.
Let's quit playing the finger pointing game, and get back into the War-Winning game. SOME OF US are already in that game. To undermine our efforts, in my honest opinion, is petty and cheap. I lump Dingy Harry in the "petty and cheap" group.
...and I agree with Mara: Can we get some commentary with the articles?
[edit to add content]
And actually, this is GREAT news!
The Dems have set a precedent here. They used this cheap stunt to bring attention to themselves after thier Karl Rove hunt fizzled with one person indicted (Scotter Libby), not even Karl Rove. Dingy Harry was bent out of shape because Judge Alito's nomination basically knocked Scooter Libby off the front page.
This shows the desperation of the Dems, to the point where they are grasping at staws. This is the first time in modern history that the Senate has gone into a Closed Session without the coordination and consent of both parties.
Harry Ried was taking advantage of Senate rules in order to garner attention. Remember, Sen. Roberts had already scheduled hearings. The Senate doesn't create committees with the intention of never getting reports from them ...DUH.
Back to what I mentioned earlier: with this move, the Dems set a precedent that "we're not going to play nice". This is exactly what I wanted to see (although, admittedly, not quite in this way). Expect this: if the Looney Libs try to block Judge Alito's confirmation, the Republicans won't "play nice" anymore, either. They will ALSO break long standing tradtion, and invoke "The Nuclear Option".
Seems that the Libs have opened a can of worms, and now they can't get them all back in. This is going to be GREAT!
From Pumpkins favorite "source", Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_option
The nuclear option is a controversial phrase used to refer to a change in the U.S. Senate rules to prevent the filibuster of judicial confirmations. Also known by the controversial term Constitutional option, it is an American political code word used during the 2005 judicial confirmation political fight.
Currently, Senate rules allow any member to prevent a confirmation vote of a Presidential appointee by staging a filibuster. The filibuster can be overridden by a three-fifths majority (60 out of 100 senators) vote via a cloture motion. The nuclear option would allow a simple majority (50 out of 100 senators, plus the Vice President) to end a judicial filibuster. Once cloture is achieved, the nominee would be confirmed or rejected by a simple majority vote.
The nuclear option has returned to the news in light of the October 31, 2005 nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. Republican Senate Majority Leader William H. Frist (R-Tenn.) has threatened to implement the option if the Democrats attempt to filibuster Alito.
Frist had threatened earlier in the year to use the option in response to what he called Democratic "obstructionism". At the time, Democrats had blocked the nomination of 10 of George W. Bush's nominees. In response Senator John S. McCain III (R-Ariz.) and Senator E. Benjamin Nelson (D-NE) organized a moderate bloc of fourteen senators (7 Republicans and 7 Democrats), commonly known as the Gang of 14, to sign a memo of understanding stating they would vote for cloture on three of Bush's nominees and would resist attempts to implement the nuclear option. Their memo said, in part: "We believe that, under Article II, Section 2, of the United States Constitution, the word "Advice" speaks to consultation between the Senate and the President with regard to the use of the president's power to make nominations. We encourage the Executive branch of government to consult with members of the Senate, both Democratic and Republican, prior to submitting a judicial nomination to the Senate for consideration." Whether this alliance will survive the Alito nomination remains to be seen.
The nuclear option would affect nominees to U.S. district, appellate and the U.S. Supreme Court, all of which are lifetime appointments. In the 2005 Senate, Republicans held 55 seats, Democrats 44 and Independents held one. The nuclear option would allow 51 Republican Senators to hand confirmation power to themselves.
...Man, I'm gonna need some popcorn and beer for THIS fight!
I Love this guy:
...AND ANOTHER THING:
If President Bush "Lied", you'd better start indicting THESE people as well:
October 9th, 1999 Letter to President Clinton Signed by Senators Levin, Lieberman, Lautenberg, Dodd, Kerrey, Feinstein, Mikulski, Daschle, Breaux, Johnson, Inouye, Landrieu, Ford and Kerry -- all Democrats
"We urge you, after consulting with Congress and consistent with the US Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions, including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs."
John Kerry, January 23rd, 2003
"Without question we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator leading an impressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. And now he's miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. His consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction."
Bill Clinton, February 17th, 1998
"If Saddam rejects peace, and we have to use force, our purpose is clear: We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."
Madeleine Albright, February 1st, 1998
"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and the security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."
Sandy Berger February 18th, 1998
"He''ll use those weapons of mass destruction again as he has 10 times since 1983."
Nancy Pelosi December 16th, 1998
"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology, which is a threat to countries in the region, and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."
Senator Carl Levin September 19th, 2002
"We begin with a common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations, is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them."
Al Gore September 23rd, 2002
"We know that he has stored nuclear supplies, secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."
Senator Hillary Clinton, October 10th of 2002
"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock. His missile delivery capability, his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists including Al-Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."
John Kerry October 9th, 2002
"I will be voting to give the president of the US the authority to use force if necessary to disarm Saddam because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."
Ted Kennedy September 27th, 2002
"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
Madeleine Albright November 10th, 1999
"Hussein has chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."
Jay Rockefeller October 10th, 2002
"There was unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. We also should remember that we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."
Robert Byrd October 3rd, 2002
"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of '98. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons."
Senator Bob Graham December 2002
"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has and has had for a number of years a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."
Al Gore, September 23rd, 2002
"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter, and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."
[edited to add content]
...Ahem. I invite you to download and read (The Letter to the President from the Senators in 1998) THIS PDF.
I eagerly await your response
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