...and the Senate Democrats pull some sort of stunt.
According to reports Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asks for a closed door session in the middle of the normal senate session (Rule 21). The very first thing that made the request unusual in and of itself was that it was a total surprise to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN). The last few previous sets of senate leaders had always assured their counterparts that such unusual moves would be agreed to before being executed, but apparently Senator Reid didn't have that agreement with Senator Frist because surely the former wouldn't break his word and pull such a wild move, would he?
Frist angrily denounced the move, charging that "the United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership." He told reporters that he has never as majority leader "been slapped in the face with such an affront to the leadership of this grand institution."Oh; guess he would.
Frist called the closed session "a pure stunt" by Reid, Durbin and the Democratic leadership.
"This is an affront to me personally," he said. "It's an affront to our leadership. It's an affront to the United States of America. And it is wrong."
Frist sharply criticized Reid personally, saying he could never trust the Democratic leader again.
So what was so all-fired important that it had to be talked about behind closed doors today?
The U.S. Senate went into a rare closed session today after Democrats invoked a seldom used rule to back their demands for greater oversight by the Republican-controlled body, particularly on the Bush administration's use of intelligence in taking the country to war in Iraq. [SNIP](Emphasis mine.)
Under the order to go into closed session, the galleries were emptied of spectators and journalists, staffers without security clearances were ordered out and senators were required to remove all electronic gear such as cell phones and digital communications devices.
The Senate's Democratic leader, Harry M. Reid of Nevada, initiated the closed session by invoking Rule 21, which was seconded by Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), the minority whip. In a floor speech, Reid declared that "a cloud hangs over this Republican-controlled Congress for its unwillingness to hold the administration accountable" on a variety of issues.
He was particularly incensed about what he said was the refusal of the Senate Intelligence Committee under Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) to follow up on an investigation of the intelligence that led to the war in Iraq. A report was issued in July last year, but a "phase two" inquiry into how the Bush administration used that intelligence has not been held. Reid accused Roberts of breaking a promise to conduct that investigation in an effort to "provide political cover for this administration," which he said had "consistently and repeatedly manipulated the facts" in making its case to invade Iraq in 2003.
I hope for Senator Reid's political sake that he has something specific and factual--without manipulation-- in mind as he accuses and insults his Republican colleagues. Because if he doesn't, the Senate Minority Leader has just burned his bridges for nothing. Looking good to the Democrats who repect spectacle over substance doesn't count.
(Thanks to Memeorandum)
UPDATE: Senate Reid forgot to look in his "Favorites" folder for this. "On my computer? Oh."
(Thanks to the Big Guy)
UPDATE: Reader Carey correctlly informs me that the above linked document on pre-war intelligence is the 'Phase One' report; the Democrats invoked Rule 21 in order to hasten 'Phase Two' of the investigation into the intelligence.