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Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's Stock Moves Strongly Up
By Steve Clemons
RULE 21 CLOSED DOOR SENATE SESSION: Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid's Stock Moves Strongly Up
Senator Harry Reid, in a motion seconded by Senator Richard Durbin, just called for a very rare closed door executive session of the Senate. This motion is called "Rule 21" so that Senators can discuss "secret matters."
I'm impressed. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is currently on C-Span lambasting Reid and his leadership for this move, which Frist is calling sneaky and underhanded.
Frist actually just said that he will be "unable to trust Senator Reid for the next year and half of this Congressional session." Frist said that the Democrats have gone into the gutter to fight.
I think it was bold and a very constructive move by Reid.
The reason that Reid and Durbin have maneuvered the Senate into executive session is that Senator Pat Roberts, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has failed to move forward on "Phase Two" of a report on the use and abuse of Iraq WMD intelligence before the war. While the first phase focused on the CIA and intelligence bureaucracy's missteps on WMD intel, the second phase is supposed to focus more specifically on those in the White House and close to the President in the executive branch and how Iraq-related WMD intelligence may have been misused.
Senator Roberts has delayed and delayed and delayed. And Reid said no more.
But the other stroke of political genius here is that while Senator Frist is spitting on Reid and the Democrats, Reid has just successfully focused the spotlight BACK on Iraq, back on intelligence abuses, back on Patrick Fitzgerald and the Libby indictment.
Reid was ticked off after having had no consultation with the President regarding the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
Harry Reid, giving NO NOTICE to Senator Frist, has just kicked the Republican leadership and the White House in the rear -- and has done the nation a great service by making sure that our public attention is still focused on the mismanagement and serious abuses of the national security circumstances of the United States.
In sending the U.S. Senate into executive session, Senator Reid read from former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson's talk at the New America Foundation as Wilkerson recounted the secretive process that took America into war against Iraq. Reid is arguing that Congress must play an oversight role over the Executive -- and that Congress is demonstrating no oversight responsibilities at all, particularly as regards the war.
Fascinating stuff unfolding -- and very important.
-- Steve Clemons
Read Senator Jay Rockefeller's Statement below. Rockefeller, of course, is Ranking Member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence:
Here is some background on Rule 21 Senate "Closed Door" Sessions:
KEY FACTS ON SECRET SESSIONS OF THE SENATE
~ Since 1929, the Senate has held 53 secret sessions, generally for reasons of national security.
i. For example, in 1997 the Senate held a secret session to consider the Chemical Weapons Convention (treaty).
ii. In 1992, the Senate met in secret session to consider “most favored nation