2 - The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Senate does into closed session NEWS INrBRIEF
hijacked the Senate
WASHINGTON (AP) - Demo-
crats forced the Republican-controlled
Senate into an unusual closed session
yesterday, 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 of Ten-
nessee. "They have no convictions, they
have no principles, they have no ideas," the
Republican leader said.
Democrats sought assurances that Intel-
ligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts
of Kansas would complete the second
phase of an investigation of the adminis-
tration's prewar intelligence.
After about two hours, senators returned
to open session having appointed a six-
member task force - three members from
each party - to review the committee's
progress and report back to their respec-
tive caucuses by Nov. 14.
Roberts's committee produced a 511-
page report last summer on flaws of an
Iraq intelligence estimate assembled by
the country's top analysts in October2002,
and he promised a second phase would
look at issues that couldn't be finalized in
the first year of work.
The committee had started the second
phase of the review, Roberts said, but it
has not been completed. He said he had
intended all along to work on the second
phase beginning next week.
In mid-afternoon yesterday, Reid
demanded the Senate go into closed ses-
sion. The public was ordered out of the
chamber, the lights were dimmed and the
doors were closed. No vote is required in
Reid's move shone a spotlight on the
continuing controversy over prewar intel-
ligence. Despite administration claims, no
weapons of mass destruction have been
found in Iraq, and some Democrats have
accused the White House of manipulating
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief
of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, was
indicted last Friday in an investigation that
touched on the war, the leak of the identity
of a CIA official married to a critic of the
administration's Iraq policy.
"The Libby indictment provides a win-
dow 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.
Libby resigned from his White House
post after being indicted on charges of
obstruction of justice, making false state-
ments and perjury.
Democrats contend that the unmasking
of Valerie Plame was retribution for her
husband, Joseph Wilson, publicly chal-
lenging the Bush administration's con-
tention that Iraq was seeking to purchase
uranium from Africa. That claim was
part of the White House's justification
for going to war.
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
said Roberts reneged on a promise to
fully investigate whether the adminis-
tration exaggerated and manipulated
intelligence leading up to the war. Reid
claimed that Republicans have repeat-
edly rebuffed Democratic pleas for a
Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), a for-
mer majority leader, said a closed
session was appropriate for such
overarching matters as impeach-
ment 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.
The Senate had been consider-
ing a budget bill when it went into
WASHINGTON (AP) - U.S.
Supreme Court nominee Samuel Aito
is "clearly within the mainstream" and
shouldn't be filibustered, declared a
Republican who helped fashion a plan
limiting parliamentary roadblocks for
Sen. Mike DeWine, who met with
President Bush's latest high court choice
yesterday, warned Democrats he would
side with GOP leaders to eliminate the
judicial filibuster if the minority party
uses it against the New Jersey judge.
"It's hard for me to envision that
anyone would think about filibustering
this nominee," said DeWine, an Ohio
Republican who sided with 13 other
Republicans and Democrats earlier this
year to end a Senate stalemate over judi-
Some Democrats were contemplating
just such a move as the 55-year-old Alito
began courting senators on the second
day of his Supreme Court candidacy.
Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson of South
Dakota refused to rule out supporting a
"I would leave all those options on
the table," he said.
Johnson said e hasn't made up
his mind on Alito after discussing the
right to privacy and other constitutional
issues with him yesterday. "Not surpris-
ingly, it's hard to draw hard and fast
conclusions on how he will vote," John-
son said. "There is no question he is a
Democratic leaders are cautioning
their colleagues against rushing to judg-
ment on President Bush's pick to replace
his previous unsuccessful choice, White
House counsel Harriet Miers, as the
successor for retiring Justice Sandra
"Ordinarily it takes six to eight weeks
to evaluate a Supreme Court nominee. We
shouldn't rush to judgment," Sen. Dick
Durbin (D-Ill.), the No. 2 Senate Demo-
crat, said on CBS's "The Early Show."
DeWine, who met with Alito for
more than an hour, is one of the 14 cen-
trist senators Democrats need to sustain
a filibuster. Without the group's seven
Republicans, Democrats would not be
able to prevent Senate Majority Lead-
er Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) from abolish-
ing judicial filibusters and confirming
judges with a simple majority vote. The
Republicans hold 55 of the 100 seats in
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got ahead of ~
Judge in case against DeLay removed
In a courtroom victory for Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), the judge in the cam-
paign-finance case against the former House Republican leader was removed yes-
terday because of his donations to Democratic candidates and causes.
A semi-retired judge who was called in to hear the dispute, C.W. Bud Duncan,
ruled in Delay's favor without comment. Duncan ordered the appointment of a new
judge to preside over the case.
The ruling came after a hearing in which Delay's attorneys argued that state
District Judge Bob Perkins's political donations created the appearance of bias.
Perkins, a Democrat, has contributed to candidates such as John Kerry and the
liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org.
"The public perception of Judge Perkins's activities shows him to be on
opposite sides of the political fence than Tom DeLay," defense attorney Dick
Perkins had declined to withdraw from the case, and prosecutor Rick Reed
argued at the hearing that DeLay had to prove that a member of the public
would have a "reasonable doubt that the judge is impartial" before Perkins
could be removed.
Interest rates raised to highest level in years
The Federal Reserve raised interest rates yesterday to the highest level in more
than four years and indicated that more increases were likely in an effort to keep
a lid on inflation.
Outgoing Chairman Alan Greenspan and his colleagues voted unanimously to
boost the rate banks charge each other by a quarter-point, to 4 percent. It was the
12th increase of that size since the Fed began tightening credit in June 2004.
In response, commercial banks began increasing their prime lending rate
by a corresponding amount, to 7 percent. These rates are used for many short-
term consumer loans, including certain credit cards and popular home equity
lines of credit.
Wall Street shrugged - the Dow Jones industrials closed down 33.30 points.
"The cumulative rise in energy and other costs have the potential to add to infla-
tion pressures," the Fed said in a brief statement after the meeting.
Fed policymakers suggested that they are more concerned about the prospects
of an inflation flare-up than the economy suffering a serious slowdown from the
hurricanes that ravaged the Gulf Coast.
Roberts faces first religious freedom dispute
The Supreme Court debated yesterday whether to let a small congregation in
New Mexico worship with hallucinogenic tea, the first religious freedom dispute
under Chief Justice John Roberts.
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor seemed skeptical of the Bush administration's
claim that the tea can be banned, but she may not be around to vote in the case.
About 130 members of a Brazil-based church have been in a long-running dis-
pute with federal agents who seized their tea in 1999. The hoasca tea, which con-
tains an illegal drug known as DMT, is considered sacred to members of O Centro
Espirita Beneficiente Uniao do Vegetal.
The Bush administration contends the tea is not only illegal but poten-
Pentagon: Top al-Qaida operative escaped
A man once considered a top al-Qaida operative escaped from a U.S.-run
detention facility in Afghanistan and cannot testify against the soldier who
allegedly mistreated him, a defense lawyer involved in a prison abuse case
Omar al-Farouq was one of Osama bin Laden's top lieutenants in Southeast
Asia until Indonesian authorities captured him in the summer of 2002 and
turned him over to the United States.
- Compiled from Daily wire reports
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