Thursday, March 20, 2008


Last Thursday night the U.S. House of Representatives held a "secret," or closed, session to discuss controversial electronic surveillance legislation, over some objections that withholding it from the public wasn't necessary. According to the Congressional Research Service, last week's was the sixth secret session since 1812 for the House. Before 1929 the Senate routinely conducted business in closed session; since 1929 there have been 53. Modern practice is to close proceedings to discuss confidential information, impeachment deliberations, sensitive information from the president, and national security/military issues. Meetings of the Constitutional Congress and Convention were held in secret. Closed sessions are authorized by Article I, Section 5 of the Constitution. Any member of Congress can call one, and those who attend are forbidden to publicly divulge what went on. However, on occasion the members vote to have some portion of the transcript published in the congressional record. Since 1812, the closed sessions of the House have been to consider relations with Indian tribes (1825), a bill regarding trade with Britain (1830), the Panama Canal Act (1979), Cuban involvement in Nicaragua (1980), U. S.-supported paramilitary ops in Nicaragua (1983), and electronic surveillance legislation (2008). Since 1929, the Senate has met secretly on many topics, including contempt and impeachment (judicial and presidential), investigations of government contracts, military policies and war reports, WMDs, intelligence operations, unnamed legislation, trade with China, vaguely identified national security issues, and aircraft/other sales to certain countries. Thursday night's came after several weeks of deadlock over the surveillance legislation, mainly retroactive immunity for telecom companies who aided the government in questionable wiretaps. Two versions of the bill amending current law (FISA) existed -- one passed by the Senate and supported by the president that included the immunity, and the other introduced in the House without it. Friday morning the House passed the version without the immunity. To monitor federal legislation, go to PLEASE RESPECT,THANK,HONOR,SUPPORT & PRAY FOR OUR TROOPS,VETS,FIRST RESPONDERS and THEIR FAMILIES ;-)

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