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Sssh! It’s a Secret

The FAS Project on Government Secrecy Blog contains an informative post about secret sessions of the House of Representatives, including one that took place on March 13th to consider classified matters concerning the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

For more information about secret sessions, read “Secret Sessions of the House and Senate” and “Secret Sessions of Congress: A Brief Historical Overview,” by the Congressional Research Service. I knew that the Senate held secret sessions (54 since 1929), but I did not know that the House only held three secret sessions since 1830 and they took place in 1979, 1980, and 1983! However, there were unsuccessful attempts to hold a secret session to discuss the assessment of the war in Iraq in 2006 (search for page H7371) and the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2008 (pages H4795-4796, H4808, and H4867-68). Also, the proceedings of a secret session are not published unless the House or Senate votes to release them. If they vote to release them, then the transcripts will be printed in the Congressional Record, but if the House votes not to release them, then the they are preserved at NARA and may be available to the public after 30 years.

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