Update: Press conference transcript is here.
President Bush has scheduled a press conference for 10:05am Eastern this morning to prod the Dems to pass permanent FISA reform.
David Reinhard watches while Pelosi’s House sleeps.
Liberal House Democrats are pushing for a closed session to discuss the legal underpinnings of President Bush’s intelligence surveillance program.
They believe that the more members know about it, the less likely they will be to support Bush’s wish to make it permanent.
“I haven’t heard anything in closed session that makes me think we need the Protect America Act,” said Rep. Rush Holt (D-N.J.), an Intelligence Committee member, referring to a White House-backed interim wiretapping bill that lapsed this month. “Or that FISA [the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act], with modest modifications, isn’t the way to go into the future.”
The request for the closed session came in a letter coauthored by Holt and Reps. John Tierney (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Holt refused to confirm the letter, but other Democrats say it was brought up at Tuesday’s Democratic Caucus meeting.
The three want all members allowed to see documents that outline the administration’s legal opinions on the program. So far, only Intelligence and Judiciary Committee members have been allowed to see them.
The three believe it is impractical to have all members go to the secure offices of the Intelligence Committee to review the documents. Instead, they want a presentation before the whole House, but in a closed session because the information is classified.
It’s another stall tactic.
Boehner’s spokesman, Kevin Smith, derided the secret session proposal as a stalling tactic.
“There are clear rules and procedures for how Congress handles classified information,” Smith said. “This nonsense is nothing more than another stalling tactic from a bunch of liberals who don’t want to give our intelligence officials all the tools they need to keep America safe.”
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