Bill Frist is grumbling about a "stunt," but Democrats are claiming that their move to put the Senate in closed session this afternoon has resulted in the outcome they wanted: a promise from Republicans to move forward on a Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into the Bush administration's use of intelligence in the run-up to the war in Iraq.
"After months and months and months of begging, cajoling and writing letters, we're finally going to have Phase II of the investigation into how the intelligence was used to lead us into this intractable war in Iraq," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said a few minutes ago.
Reid said that the Republican leadership has agreed to provide Democrats a "phase by phase plan" for completing the long-delayed investigation by Nov. 14. Republicans say they were moving forward anyway. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat Roberts, who said in March that continuing the investigation would be a "monumental waste of time," insisted today that his committee has been working on Phase II of the investigation all along.
Reid scoffed at such claims and dismissed Frist's complaints about the Democrats' maneuvering today. "The only way we've been able to get their attention is to spend three and a half hours in closed session," Reid said. Asked about Frist's characterization of the unannounced Senate closure as a "slap in the face" to the Republican leadership, Reid said: "It's a slap in the face to the American people that this investigation has been stymied, stopped, obstructions thrown up every step of the way. That's the real slap in the face."