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Congress Can Use “Speech or Debate” to Expose Administration’s Syria Lies

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Daniel McAdams
Lew Rockwell Blog
September 9, 2013

Two very commendable Members of the House of Representatives over the past week have made some reference to White House manipulation of intelligence in the classified briefings feverishly provided to Members of Congress in an effort to salvage votes for a US attack on Syria.

Rep. Alan Grayson said in an interview this past week that the intelligence being provided to Members in classified briefings was manipulated and devoid of evidence. Grayson declined to provide examples, explaining that he was constrained from discussing the classified information in the briefings.

Similarly, Rep. Justin Amash Tweeted the other day that “If Americans could read classified docs, they’d be even more against Syria action.”

Rep. Amash continued this line in the Sunday talk shows today, stating that “some things are being embellished” by the Administration in its push for war. Discussing the White House-provided classified briefings to push Members to vote for the authorization to attack Syria, Amash said “The briefings haven’t given me comfort, the briefings have actually made me more skeptical about the situation.”

Both Members (and probably many others) find that the classified briefings are chock full of manipulated conclusions and devoid of ay real evidence for the Administration’s public claims. But, they say, they cannot fill the American public in on the Administration’s lies because the briefings are classified.

There is one solution. The Speech or Debate Clause of the US Constitution, which states that Members of both Houses of Congress…

“…shall in all Cases, except TreasonFelony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.”

In the Gravel case, the Supreme Court held that neither Senator Mike Gravel nor his staff could be prosecuted over the Senator’s reading parts of the Pentagon Papers on the Floor of the Senate.

This is not at all to single out Reps. Grayson and Amash. They have already done much to serve the cause of truth and peace with their vocal opposition to a Syria attack.

But if there is a Member or Senator who resents being lied to by the Administration, who knows from classified briefings that the intelligence is manipulated and does not back up the Administration’s public rhetoric, he or she could go to the House or Senate Floor, reveal the lies, and make history. It is an interesting idea. Why should the American people always be the last to know what their government is doing in their name?

This article was posted: Monday, September 9, 2013 at 4:26 am

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