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The Secret Is Out: There Was No Big Secret

Steny Hoyer worked to convince Democrats.
Steny Hoyer worked to convince Democrats. (Chip Somodevilla - Getty Images)
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Blunt felt empowered by his Big Secret; it showed how very important he is. "Because of my clearance level, I've seen the secret information and information at other levels as well," he bragged. He told his peers that once he tells them his secrets, "you can't discuss them as having been discussed as part of this secret session."

Complicating the Republicans' secret plans, and the Democrats' capitulation, were a dozen liberal members who raised a series of procedural objections.

"There are some of us here who feel that this country has drifted toward a version of a national security state," said Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio).

Blunt pursed his lips and stroked his chin.

"Since 1825, three times in the history of this country and at no time since 1983 have we done what you are proposing," pointed out Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.). It's true: Last night's session was the fifth since 1812, in fact.

Lundgren, hobbling into the chamber with a crutch because of an injured foot, sought permission to speak. "I was here for the last three secret sessions we had," he boasted.

"I was here for the secret sessions," countered Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.). "And given the mumbo jumbo that I heard," he added, the main purpose was "to demonstrate the total uselessness of secret sessions."

Laughter filled the chamber.

But the left-wingers were unwilling to take the secrecy lightly. "It's a very, very serious matter when we do the public's business in secret," Doggett said. In the front row, Reps. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) and Diane Watson (Calif.) applauded.

Hoyer began to look tired. Blunt allowed himself a grin at his counterpart's difficulty in controlling his party. "The information we bring to the floor will not be confusing to the members but enlightening to the members, and that's why I propose that we'll move for a secret session," he explained evenly.

The howls from Democrats continued. "Scare tactics! . . . Ominous! . . . I object!"

"I've got to go back to my district and explain to my constituents why we had a secret session," protested Watson.

"I think it would be harder to explain to your constituents why we didn't have a secret session," answered Blunt.

The last of the liberals, Rep. David Scott (Ga.), got swept away by Greek mythology. "Is this a political ploy?" he demanded. "Is this a Trojan horse?"

An exasperated Hoyer sat down. Blunt finally had mercy on his counterpart, and offered some soothing words.

"I have not suggested this is at the top-secret level," he said.

The secret was out! The man who requested the secret session in the first place finally admitted he had no big secrets to divulge.

On the other hand, the 90-minute debate over the secret session did serve a purpose. It proved that the only thing worse than a secret session of the House is a session it holds in public.

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