Behind Closed Doors

By John Liang / June 24, 2009 at 5:00 AM

Marking up the defense authorization bill behind closed doors is not something that has sat well with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO). According to an e-mail received yesterday from her spokeswoman:

This may not come as a surprise to some of you, but Sen. Claire McCaskill is causing a ruckus again this year in the Senate Armed Services Committee mark-up of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The committee traditionally closes its mark-up of the annual defense policy bill to the public and press, but for the third year in a row, McCaskill is trying to open up committee deliberations to bring new transparency and accountability to the process. In an attempt to keep the mark-up open, McCaskill will continue to object to the motion to close each of the subcommittee and full committee meetings, which requires the consent of a majority of the committee members.

The Armed Services Committee has said that it holds its meeting behind closed doors to enable free discussion of classified information, but the reality is that a large majority of the material included in the legislation is unclassified and that the committee is free to move into a closed, classified setting at any time. Furthermore, the House Armed Services Committee considers the same legislation publically, and the Senate bill is traditionally considered by the full Senate in open session.

The committee began its work on the legislation earlier today, and will continue through Thursday.