Senator Harry Reid invokes Rule 21 to have the Senate go into closed session. The reason given for this seems questionable at best and may be the first volley of a tragic political war about to begin. Throw out all the bums!
Rule 21 as defined in Senate Rules states:
SESSION WITH CLOSED DOORS
1. On a motion made and seconded to close the doors of the Senate, on the discussion of any business which may, in the opinion of a Senator, require secrecy, the Presiding Officer shall direct the galleries to be cleared; and during the discussion of such motion the doors shall remain closed.
2. When the Senate meets in closed session, any applicable provisions of rules XXIX and XXXI, including the confidentiality of information shall apply to any information and to the conduct of any debate transacted.
Senator Reid wants the Senate Intelligence Committee to report its Phase 2 findings which was to include the use of Intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Sen. Reid compared the lack of any oversight of the Bush Administration by the Senate and said that when the Democrats controlled the Senate they had oversight investigations into many of the Clinton Administration shortcomings. The claim is that this Republican Senate which controls both Senate and Congress is not doing its responsibility in its oversight of the Executive branch. He was outraged and in a desperate measure because the Democrats have no real power in this Congress, he invoked Rule 21. Stand by and hold on. It's going to get a lot more divisive, sickening all of us.
Update: 2:00pm PST
Senator Reid's outrage he said on CNN is over the stalling tactics of the Senate Intelligence Committee's lack of progress on the report, called Phase 2, which is on the use of Intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq. The Senator rightfully seems very angry and said that Sen. Rockefeller has written on the stall as the ranking minority member of the Senate Intelligence committee. Senator Rockefeller has recently commented on the fact that Senator Frist had cancelled a briefing on Iraq saying the following:
"Senator Frist’s action today to unilaterally cancel a briefing that would have provided all Senators, Republicans and Democrats, with a better understanding of the problems we face in Iraq is indefensible,” Rockefeller said.
“The National Intelligence Council was fully prepared to brief Senators on the latest Intelligence Community assessments on the insurgency, the reconstruction efforts, the status of Iraqi security forces, and the affects of destabilization on neighboring countries.
My colleagues and I requested this briefing from the intelligence community because, to date, administration policy makers have not been completely forthcoming about the situation in Iraq. They have been unwilling or unable to articulate what the strategy is for success in Iraq. And, I’m concerned that this administration continues to paint an overly optimistic picture of events on the ground.
“Democrats and Republicans alike want unvarnished information and we want answers. The American people deserve answers.
To suggest that this briefing cannot and should not happen because it was initiated by Democrats is politicizing our national security."
So it apparent that much is going on behind close doors by the Senate and Republicans afraid to get answers to the important questions. It was probably the only way Senator Reid was going to get anyones attention on the Republican side.
Update: Nov. 2, 2005
Much has been said as to whether Harry Reid used a cheap trick or gimmick yesterday in invoking Rule 21. A day later it can be said that the effect was to keep the focus on the Senate Intelligence report that now has been promised by its Chairman Sen. Pat Roberts. In politics, this Bush Administration has used dirty tricks and gimmicks for 5 years. They should get a taste of how it feels when the shoe is on the other foot. Remember the Swift Boat ads attacking Sen. Kerry that the Administration did not rebuke. It is possible that electronic voting machines could have been tampered with in Ohio according to the Office of management and Budget of Congress report. Remember the Vice President who used his bully pulpit to put fear in us about the possibility of a mushroom cloud in this country because of Saddam Hussein, the supposed link between Saddam and Al Quaida. I could go on and on but you could add many of your own, I'm sure.