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Senate Agrees to Bipartisan Review of 2004 Intelligence Committee Report
From the Yahoo.com articles: Senate Emerges From Closed Session on Iraq and US Senate secret session focuses on Iraq, spy scandal (make sure to rate these articles highly so other Yahoo readers will see them)
In a day of political drama, Democrats forced the Republican-controlled Senate into an unusual closed session Tuesday, questioning intelligence that President Bush used in the run-up to the war in Iraq and accusing Republicans of ignoring the issue...
Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt but agreed two hours later to a bipartisan review of the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into prewar intelligence...
Democrats sought assurances that Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas would complete the second phase of an investigation of the administration's prewar intelligence. A six-member task force — three members from each party — was appointed to review the Intelligence Committee's work and report to their respective leaders by Nov. 14.
Roberts' committee produced a 511-page report in 2004 on flaws in an Iraq intelligence estimate assembled by the country's top analysts in October 2002, and he promised a second phase would look at issues that couldn't be finished in the first year of work.
The committee worked on the second phase of the review, Roberts said, but it has not finished. He blamed Democrats for the delays and said his staff had informed Democratic counterparts on Monday that the committee hoped to complete the second phase next week...
"The Libby indictment provides a window into what this is really all about, how this administration manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to sell the war in Iraq and attempted to destroy those who dared to challenge its actions," Reid said before invoking Senate rules that led to the closed session...
As Reid spoke, Frist met in the back of the chamber with a half-dozen senior GOP senators, including Roberts, who bore the brunt of Reid's criticism. Reid claimed that Republicans have repeatedly rebuffed Democratic pleas for a thorough investigation.
Sen. Frist said the move to invoke the rarely used "Rule 21" allowing for secret debate on the Senate floor was "unprecedented" in recent history, and accused Democrats of hijacking the US legislature.
Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., a former majority leader, said a closed session was appropriate for such overarching matters as impeachment and chemical weapons — the two topics that last sent the senators into such sessions.
In addition, Lott said, Reid's move violated the Senate's tradition of courtesy and consent. But there was nothing in Senate rules enabling Republicans to thwart Reid's effort.
Republican Senator George Allen slammed what he called Democrats' "political gimmickry and gamesmanship."
"What this is is a sucker punch .... wasting hours and hours on the Senate floor," Allen said, while Republican leader Frist called the move a "slap in the face."
Reid testily refuted that description.
"This investigation has been stymied, stopped, obstructions thrown up every step of the way. That's the real slap in the face," he said.
The Senate had been considering a budget bill when it went into closed session.