Sunday, November 06, 2005

What is Rule 21?

Rule XXI of the Standing Rules of the Senate reads as follows:

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. [plus some specifics]
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) invoked Rule XXI this week to force a discussion of the flawed intelligence that led to the vote for the Iraq war. The Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist (R–TN), and several other Republican Senators expressed outrage that the Democrats insist upon an honest accounting of the dishonest marketing of the Iraq invasion by the Bush administration to the Congress and to the American people.

There was a legitimate question: why has a non-partisan commission not been created to investigate both the intelligence and the use of the intelligence in support of the war? A frank and honest discussion of that question is clearly called for, and I would hope that something resembling that discussion took place behind closed doors. I can't say I'm confident that it did, but I can still hope.