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US Senate Returns to Open Session After Surprise Closure to Media and Public


The U.S. Senate has returned to open session, after Democrats forced lawmakers into a surprise closed session to demand a debate on pre-war intelligence and the leak of a CIA officer's name.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid Tuesday invoked a rarely used Senate rule to close the chamber to the public, media and all staff members for about two hours.

To end the standoff, lawmakers agreed to form a bipartisan task force. The six-member group has two weeks to review the Senate Intelligence Committee's probe into information used to make the case for war in Iraq.

Mr. Reid said the American people and U.S. troops deserve to know whether the Bush administration manipulated intelligence.

Senate Republicans were enraged by the surprise move, calling it a "pure stunt." Senate Majority leader Bill Frist accused the Democrats of hijacking the Senate.

The Democrats' protest came after the Friday indictment and resignation of senior White House aide Lewis Libby.

Mr. Libby was indicted on five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements in an investigation of who leaked the identity of the CIA officer.

The CIA officer's husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, has accused the Bush administration of revealing his wife's identity to strike back at him for criticizing the rationale for war in Iraq.
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