According to Drudge, for the first time in 25 years, rule 21 has been invoked by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid; Dems Seek to Investigate Pre-War Intelligence, Libby Indictment; Frist: ‘The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership’

Standing Rules of The Senate



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.

AP – Democrats force Senate into Iraq Meeting

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.

“They have repeatedly chosen to protect the Republican administration rather than get to the bottom of what happened and why,” Democratic leader Harry Reid said.

Taken by surprise, Republicans derided the move as a political stunt.

“The United States Senate has been hijacked by the Democratic leadership,” said Majority Leader Bill Frist. “They have no convictions, they have no principles, they have no ideas,” the Republican leader said.

I can’t wait for the rest of this story.

— Kevin Drum has a list of the Dems talking points.

— Frist calls the move a “lack of respect” and says “he can’t trust Senator Reid”. Duh.

Why Reid Did It (According to Byron York of National Review)

Perhaps the best explanation for the Democrats’ decision to virtually shut down the Senate today can be found in one passage from CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s news conference last Friday:

“This indictment is not about the war. This indictment’s not about the propriety of the war. And people who believe fervently in the war effort, people who oppose it, people who have mixed feelings about it should not look to this indictment for any resolution of how they feel or any vindication of how they feel….The indictment will not seek to prove that the war was justified or unjustified. This is stripped of that debate, and this is focused on a narrow transaction. And I think anyone who’s concerned about the war and has feelings for or against shouldn’t look to this criminal process for any answers or resolution of that.”

Fitzgerald’s statement, and his decision to confine the indictment of Lewis Libby to charges of lying and obstruction, threatened to dash the Democrats’ hope of using the CIA leak case as an opportunity to re-debate the reasons for going to war in Iraq. So the party, or at least its leaders in the Senate, has decided to use another route, the shutdown of the Senate, as a way to achieve that goal.

Meanwhile, John Podhoretz thinks the Democratic move in the Senate is politically canny:

In the past five days, Democrats have seen the political momentum shifting the president’s way with shocking speed. They don’t know what to do about the inspired Alito nomination, which they almost certainly can’t filibuster. And with the president’s announcement of a war against bird flu this morning — which strikes me as ridiculous policy but inspired Clintonian politics — Democrats were on the verge of having the Fitzgerald probe consigned to the ash-heap of history. And what do they have going for them right now but Scooter-gate? So by pulling this unprecedented maneuver with Section 21, they’re staging a counterassault against the president’s effort to change the political story of the moment. This is the sort of thing to make the Huffington Puffington people shriek with happiness and the Kossians to chortle with joy — almost as much as Bush pulling Miers’s nomination did for us (I know, we’re not supposed to gloat, but come on). And unfortunately, what the GOP has to respond to the maneuver is Bill Frist, who’s a great and noble human being but a stinko political leader. It may not work, but there’s no sense pretending this is a dumb thing to do. It isn’t.

Maybe Podhoretz is right? This stunt is all they have to work with. They have nothing else. They know their going to lose the fight against Alito. Basically, they’re all Joe Wilson Democrats.

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