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Senator Secrecy
June 1, 2007 9:39 AM   Subscribe

A senator places a secret hold on a bill designed to counter secrecy in government. The Society of Professional Journalists, which supports the bill, smoked out Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) as the source of the hold, one of the more obscure parliamentary tactics possible in the Senate. The bill in question is the OPEN Government Act of 2007, which is an overhaul of the Freedom of Information Act. (See also.) Kyl claims the bill would force the release of "sensitive information." Kyl is also behind a measure that would criminalize the leaking of classified information.
posted by beagle (47 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
A senator places a secret hold on a bill designed to counter secrecy in government.

Best performance art I've seen in years! Ironic yet poignant! Spoke truth to power with the Voice of its own dialectic! +++WOULD VOTE FOR AGAIN!

This guy is brilliant. hey wait a sec...
posted by freebird at 9:43 AM on June 1, 2007


Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2007


The bill in question is S 849.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:55 AM on June 1, 2007


can't we just kyl him?
posted by quarter waters and a bag of chips at 9:57 AM on June 1, 2007


Let's take govt transparency a step further: I propose 24/7 video+audio surveillance of elected officials. If they've done nothing wrong, they have nothing to hide. Let us wage the War on Govt Corruption!

And "Senator Secrecy" sounds like one of those minor super-heroes...
posted by LordSludge at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


SPJ members helped unmask Kyl by asking every U.S. senator whether he or she placed the secret hold.

That's what makes them the Society of Professional Journalists.
posted by Partial Law at 9:58 AM on June 1, 2007


I have it on good authority that it was double secret probation.
posted by quin at 10:04 AM on June 1, 2007


The last link in the FPP is a bit out of date--there are no longer any pending Senate amendments to S4. Now he's trying to tack his amendment onto the defense authorization bill.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2007


Kyl is the kind of America-hating fucker that needs to be drawn and quartered in the public square.

If we can't get open, accountable government from our elected officials, why the fuck do we have to worry about terrorists? Anybody who believes that the ends justify the means in domestic policy has no place in government.

Oh, yeah. He's a pussy, too. Real men stand up and take credit for their opinions.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:08 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


one of the more obscure parliamentary tactics possible in the Senate

If something has been a plot point on The West Wing more than once, I don't see how you can call it an "obscure ... tactic". Not well known by the general public, sure, but how much of parliamentary procedure is?
posted by spaceman_spiff at 10:09 AM on June 1, 2007


There's nothing wrong with 'secret holds'.

Senators use it all the time for lots of reasons. It's just a signal of an intent to filibuster a bill in its current form. If the Senators in favor the bill have enough votes to end a filibuster, the secret hold doesn't mean shit.

Honoring a secret hold is just a courtesy that senators extend each other while they work out consensus.
posted by empath at 10:14 AM on June 1, 2007


That bill sounds great- Leahy rocks. I'm surprised I haven't seen the big bloggers talking it up more. Similarly, it comes as no surprise that the main source of opposition is Gonzales.
posted by gsteff at 10:16 AM on June 1, 2007


There's nothing wrong with 'secret holds'.

Other than it's antithetical to open government.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 10:18 AM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


Spaceman: "one of the more obscure" was my language. IOW, relatively obscure. Certainly it's not "one of the better known", West Wing notwithstanding.
posted by beagle at 10:22 AM on June 1, 2007


A senator places a secret hold on a bill designed to counter secrecy in government.

That's what they get for shooting down Jesse "The Body" Ventura's bill barring illegal holds and piledrivers from Congressional proceedings.
posted by shmegegge at 10:23 AM on June 1, 2007


there's nothing wrong with 'secret holds'.

these mothers work for us! we elect them, our taxes pay their salaries. how can we possibly monitor and evaluate them if they're doing stuff in secret? what you call "courtesy" is actually "arrogance".
posted by bruce at 10:29 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


In my experience with getting information via Freedom of Information, you can only get what they want you to have and all too often that is precious little of what you are truly after.The neat catch-22: they black out lots and lots of stuff on a page(s), and then tell you you can challenge them by telling them what it is you feel you did not get. Of course what you did not get is what you can not read to tell them.
posted by Postroad at 10:43 AM on June 1, 2007


I am so sick of this secret government crap. It just lends itself to impropriety at every turn. Government should be like reality TV, every moment of your time in office documented by cameras and film crews. Just like McDonalds keeps a camera on the registers to keep their staff honest, we are going to keep one on our employees; the people we elect to act in our name.
posted by quin at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sweet -- quin's on board...
posted by LordSludge at 11:05 AM on June 1, 2007


"The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rulers may be concealed from them. " -Patrick Henry
posted by SaintCynr at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2007 [4 favorites]


Kyl got a really fawning write-up over his stance on the immigration bill in the NY Times Tuesday. One sentence: "A technocrat who has labored in Arizona in the shadow of his much more visible colleague, Senator John McCain, Mr. Kyl has traditionally shunned the spotlight and worked behind the scenes immersed in the details of legislation." Which would explain his apparent penchant for pulling this kind of behind-the-velvet-curtain legislative maneuver bullshit.
posted by blucevalo at 11:08 AM on June 1, 2007


If something has been a plot point on The West Wing more than once, I don't see how you can call it an "obscure ... tactic".

In other words, how can you expect to keep up on governmental accountability when you don't even bother to keep up with governmental protocol by watching television drama?

And for heaven's sake, don't talk about ethics in government if you can't take the time to watch Days of Our Lives.
posted by leftcoastbob at 11:09 AM on June 1, 2007 [1 favorite]


Government should be like reality TV, every moment of your time in office documented by cameras and film crews.

I don't think my stomach could take much of 24/7 cameras on John Kerry or Tom Coburn (or most of those other mendacious assholes, for that matter).
posted by blucevalo at 11:10 AM on June 1, 2007


To repeat: Only an uninformed population can fully appreciate the freedoms we sacrificed to protect.
posted by yeloson at 11:16 AM on June 1, 2007


quin writes "Government should be like reality TV, every moment of your time in office documented by cameras and film crews."

Of course it would never happen through the standard legislative process, but this would make for the most awesome ballot measure ever.
posted by mullingitover at 12:15 PM on June 1, 2007


Here's another one.
What’s Senator Mitch McConnell hiding?

He is hiding his and other senators’ campaign finance information by blocking legislation that would require electronic reporting.

As Senate Minority Leader, he is also hiding the identity of an anonymous Republican senator whose objections to “The Senate Campaign Disparity Act” (S. 223) have stymied efforts to give the public more information on sources of campaign contributions in the Senate.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:18 PM on June 1, 2007 [3 favorites]


Nothing like sunshine to send the roaches scurrying.

Look, I'd be willing to compromise on this "seret hold" thing.

How about we make it for a maximum of 72 hours and then you must release and identify yourself with justification for the hold?

Naaaa. Fuck these corrupt bastards. Let's have our government out in the open. If you have nothing to hide ...
posted by nofundy at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2007


A 2006 speech by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) arguing for the abolition of the secret hold.
posted by beagle at 12:35 PM on June 1, 2007


Senator Bill Nelson Votes for Torture
posted by homunculus at 12:46 PM on June 1, 2007


Nothing like sunshine to send the roaches scurrying.

In real life, "sunshine" has the opposite effect. Since ordinary citizens don't keep track of what legislators do, but interest groups do, you end up with legislators paying even more attention to interest groups.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:09 PM on June 1, 2007


quin wrote:

I am so sick of this secret government crap. It just lends itself to impropriety at every turn.

It's the media's fault. They never dig up any of the secret GOOD things the government does - only the secret bad stuff.
posted by any major dude at 1:17 PM on June 1, 2007 [2 favorites]


I'm doing some secret stuff right now. I should run for office.
posted by davejay at 2:18 PM on June 1, 2007


As an Arizona resident, I am ashamed and disgusted that I have senators like Jon "The Weasel" Kyl and John "Insane" McCain. I have voted against both of them in every election where I had the chance, but unfortunately, Arizona is a hotbed of mindless, misplaced loyalty.

What can you say about a land-piracy state that has produced criminals like former governor Fife Symington (or "Filth Slime-ington," as we like to call him), and long-time Maricopa County Sheriff Joe "The Joke" Arpaio, commonly known as the toughest (and most corrupt) sheriff in the U.S.?
posted by bshock at 3:08 PM on June 1, 2007


It's time to shed some sunlight on Kyl's doings, i think. Or those he's protecting (Abramoff connections or others?)
posted by amberglow at 3:42 PM on June 1, 2007


Ah--it's the Attorneys scandal and DOJ--it's time for Arizona residents to start asking Senator Kyl whether he represents them, the citizens of Arizona, or whether he's just a tool serving the power hungry overreach of the Administration.

Via ThinkProgress, CBS reports that Senator Kyl is the guy who put an secret hold on provisions updating FOIA. You see, open government groups want to give FOIA a little bit more teeth. But at the behest of the Justice Department--the Justice Department!--Kyl is preventing the updates to FOIA. ...
Senator Kyl just got dissed pretty badly by DOJ and the Bush Administration. We know that Senator Kyl was "significantly disturbed over the Charlton issue." Then, just a few weeks later, when he and John McCain submitted just one candidate (Diane Humetewa) to replace Charlton, BushCO told the very conservative Republican Senators from Arizona to fuckoff. The Bush Administration has made it very clear to Senator Kyl that they don't give a hoot about Arizona's need to have a professional USA, they don't give a hoot about naming the most qualified person to replace Charlton (it probably has to do with the fact that Humetewa is Hopi, so she's probably unlikely to go along with Administration plans to disenfranchise Native Americans).

So after getting used, badly, by the Administration on this whole DOJ fiasco, Senator Kyl is still willing to do their bidding to prevent any meaningful oversight over DOJ.

Make no mistake, Senator Kyl's hold and DOJ's "uncharacteristically strong" opposition has everything to do with the Administration's illegal wiretapping programs. They don't want us citizens to know how they're tapping our calls. Apparently, Kyl believes his job on the Senate Judiciary Committee is to ensure that no one ever gets to exercise oversight over the department that has repeatedly used him badly. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:45 PM on June 1, 2007


The fact their heads don't explode into bits when they pull shit like this is just amazing.
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on June 1, 2007


As an Arizona resident, I am ashamed and disgusted that I have senators like Jon "The Weasel" Kyl and John "Insane" McCain.

That's because we're a bunch of insane, selfish lunatics. We built a sprawling city in the middle of the desert. Our annual precipitation can be measured in yoctometers but still we build giant fountains that shoot fresh water right up into the dry air for no other reason than it kind of looks neat. We elected that racist piece of shit Mecham and followed up that performance by electing that criminal piece of shit Symington. Arpaio, our "toughest sheriff in America," is a fat doughy coward who threatens reporters with jail and murders inmates to keep them quiet. We love guns and hate freedom. We complain about the price of gas and buy houses ninety minutes from our workplaces, one way.

John McCain is a desperate, doddering old fool whose vaunted "heroism" is simply the mask of a nasty creep who makes fun of teenage girls; your grandma thought he was real dreamy in his prime except he has "busy hands" and a filthy mouth. Kyl is the long-time favorite of white supremacists, industrial polluters, and fly-by-night contractors who "don't mind the wetbacks so long as you can get 'em to work cheap."

The only reason we didn't amend our state Constitution to "protect" marriage is because it didn't criminalize homosexuality. The only reason we finally made MLK's birthday a holiday is because state employees wanted another day off. It's a tragic wasteland of mercenaries who are here only to pave over saguaros and make a couple bucks, elderly sociopaths whose delusions of entitlement make our pig-faced gang members look like the fucking 4H Club, taut-skinned skeletons who spend half of their time at Nordstroms and the other half backing their SUVs over their children, speed freaks and trash and Bluetooth cyborgs, each a tiny point on our placeless, featureless grid.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 4:22 PM on June 1, 2007 [6 favorites]


so run someone against him and McCain--they're clearly weak, and McCain has been a wholly absentee Senator i hear.
posted by amberglow at 4:35 PM on June 1, 2007


speaking of McCain and O'Reilly and GOP racism and our pitiful media: ... In other words, John McCain isn't a blatant, crazy racist, but he does have to kiss blatantly crazy, racist ass in order to win the Republican nomination. Luckily for McCain, his base--the media--understand the secret message he blinks to them from every interview, ...
posted by amberglow at 4:53 PM on June 1, 2007


we build giant fountains that shoot fresh water right up into the dry air for no other reason than it kind of looks neat.

Y'know, I wondered about that when I was in Phoenix - driving along the street past all these concrete and gravel 'lawns' (because there's no water to grow grass), and all of a sudden, off in the distance, there's a giant geyser blowing water a hundred feet in the air. Truly a WTF moment.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:07 PM on June 1, 2007


We try, Amberglow, and we try again, but voting either one of them out of office here is pretty much a non-starter. Arizona may look like it's trending more democratic lately, but I suspect that's a fluke based on the fact that in the last couple of elections, some dem pols have had unusually good luck with a platform which was basically, "Unlike my opponent, I am not actually clinically insane". Worked for our governor and a couple of others, but until Kyl starts actually frothing at the mouth or something, he has that job for life if he wants it.
posted by kyrademon at 7:18 PM on June 1, 2007


Get all the new immigrant citizens, and young women who don't vote registered--that's all you need.

Being connected to the Attorneys scandals is killing other GOP Senators and Reps all over--it should work there too for Kyl.
posted by amberglow at 7:42 PM on June 1, 2007


I've seen McCain's hands shaking noticeably on several occasions; I'd be surprised if he isn't at least in the early stages of Parkinson's.

Which is what Udall died of. Given all the stuff about environmental exposure and Parkinson's coming out these days, it would be interesting to know if McCain inherited any of Udall's offices.
posted by jamjam at 7:50 PM on June 1, 2007


I suspect that's a fluke based on the fact that in the last couple of elections, some dem pols have had unusually good luck with a platform which was basically, "Unlike my opponent, I am not actually clinically insane".

Hah! And imagine--there are those who claim that the dems have no platform!
posted by leftcoastbob at 8:16 PM on June 1, 2007


So, O.C., how long have you been in real estate?
posted by rob511 at 8:34 PM on June 1, 2007


Senator Bill Nelson Votes for Torture

Not surprising. He's a member of The Fellowship after all, and it looks like his wife was on the organization's board of directors at one point. warning: that first link will freak you right the fuck out if you've never read it before
posted by the_bone at 10:14 AM on June 2, 2007


I'd never read it before and I'd have to say that I am officially freaked out.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:40 PM on June 2, 2007


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