Vital Signs

“If I May Interrupt”: Live From the Senate Floor

As any connoisseur of the manifest absurdities that daily emanate from Inside the Beltway is well aware, what we read in the venerable Congressional Record is not necessarily a verbatim account of what was stated, on any given day, by our lawmakers on the floors of the House or Senate.  It is common practice to “emend” the Record with deletions or interpolations after the fact.  While such alterations are supposed to be indicated, this is not always the case.  An example of egregiously unacknowledged tampering occurred late last year when Senators Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) entered into the December 21 Record a “colloquy” between the two of them that was supposed to have transpired “live” on the Senate floor.  The subject of debate on that day was the Detainee Treatment Act (DTA) (subsequently passed), which, among other things, removed from the Supreme Court any jurisdiction over pending cases brought by Guantanamo detainees—or so Senators Graham and Kyl, two of the DTA’s sponsors, maintained.  The problem is that the actual wording of the DTA is rather murky on this point, and it is only in the fabricated “colloquy” between the two senators that such an understanding of the DTA is clearly reflected in the debate leading up to its passage.  During the debate, the third sponsor of the DTA, Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), made authentically...

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