NM-01: Wilson's Anti-Oversight Gambit Fails

The congressional race in New Mexico's first district is shaping up to be one hell of a race. Though both Al Gore and John Kerry won the district, it has been represented for the past eight years by Republican Heather Wilson. Now, Wilson is being challenged by Democratic Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and polling indicates the race could still go either way (the last two non-partisan surveys had Wilson ahead, though within the margin of error).

Trying to further bolster her national security credentials, Rep. Wilson has worked with House Judiciary Chairman James Sensenbrenner to pen legislation stripping Congress of mch of its oversight powers in regards to domestic surveillance. But this gambit appears to have failed as even Republicans on the panel see the move as unwise. Carrie Sheffield reports for The Hill.

Unrest among GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee threatens to overthrow a bill co-sponsored by Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) aimed at altering policies governing federal intelligence-gathering programs.

Citing concerns over civil liberties and program stability, GOP committee members last week forced Sensenbrenner to cancel a markup of the bill that would allow President Bush's warrantless surveillance program to continue with limited congressional oversight.

Republican members say they have enough votes to replace what they see as an unsavory bill, introduced by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) and co-sponsored by Sensenbrenner, with a more palatable one during a scheduled markup this morning.

Several GOP and Democratic committee members are concerned that Wilson's bill would separate oversight of Bush's Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP) from congressional oversight under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who is spearheading GOP committee movement against Wilson's bill, said the measure fails to create a solid system for TSP and would instead establish a passive, ad hoc response to terrorist attacks, rather than a steady program with legislative oversight under FISA. Flake said this approach both threatens the stability of intelligence gathering and increases the likelihood of civil liberties abuse.

[...]

Wilson faces a tight race in November against Democratic challenger Patricia Madrid and has touted her bill -- which, according to press reports, the White House opposes and is hoping to amend on the House floor -- as a sign of independence from Bush. [emphasis added]

Wilson's aborted legislation has fallen prey to the same pitfalls that have thus far blocked President Bush's attempt to unilaterally gut the Geneva Convention. Wilson, like her allies in the administration, believed that she could steamroll her opponents by offering legislation so heinous that they could not sign on to it. According to this plan, when Democrats eventually voted against the legislation, she could portray them, and by association Patricia Madrid, as soft on terror. But when a small handful of Republicans came to their senses and joined with a united group of Democrats, Wilson's legislation, like that supported by the White House, met its demise.

Now, Rep. Wilson must run on a record that includes legislation that even members of her own party say "both threatens the stability of intelligence gathering and increases the likelihood of civil liberties abuse." I can imagine that line making for a fairly potent negative direct-mail piece come late October...

Tags: FISA, Heather Wilson, House 2006, New Mexico, NM-01, Oversight, Patricia Madrid (all tags)

Comments

5 Comments

Re: NM-01: Wilson's Anti-Oversight Gambit Fails

by late October voters undoubtedly have what they call "mail fatigue."  with every mailing, they gradually become less and less effective.  people are so sick of getting them, they toss them without even looking at them.  even a political junkie like me throws them away, unread.

fwiw, that line would be fabulous in a campaign ad that doesn't go dark until election day!

by jgarcia 2006-09-19 09:02PM | 0 recs
Are we really seeing a small number of Rs

start coming to their senses?

Between Jeff Flake on TSP and John Warner on Geneva, there might just barely almost be signs of life among the GOP.  Granted, the real opposition to the Geneva stuff is coming straight out of the uniformed military, and is simply being expressed through Warner/Graham/Powell, but still.  And since when did Rs like Flake consider civil liberties as competitive with Terra-fightin?

I think the 9/11 magic is actually wearing off, and it's becoming evident to all that Cheney/Bush/Rove/Gonzales really are not capable or admirable guys at all.  There is now no reason to trust their judgment and give them stuff just because they ask for it.  No more deference to an Adminstration that is finally seen -- universally -- for the failure it is.

Losing two wars and a major city will scuff up your reputation, alright.  But we're finally seeing that shattered reputation express itself in Congressional debates.  That's new.

Ha!  Just wait til Democrats get to control the floor.  Then see how little deference the failed President gets.

by texas dem 2006-09-20 01:49AM | 0 recs
By the way,

is anyone surprised that it's Warner, not Specter, who finally stood up to these guys?  If I read Greenwald correctly, Specter's been next to useless on TSP.

I'm not really familiar with these characters, but I wonder if Fuckin Pat Toomey robbed us of the Arlen Specter we could have had.  Specter had to wrap himself in Bush to survive that primary, and it looks like he pretty well lost every ounce of independence he could have had going forward.  I don't know how much he really had previously, but the last term is supposed to be the great, independent, screw-you-guys term (just look at John Warner).  I wonder if Specter would have been able to go out in a blaze of last-term glory, if he hadn't been forced to sell himself to Bush first just to survive into that last term.

Someone who actually knows these people would know these answers.  I'm just speculatin.

by texas dem 2006-09-20 01:58AM | 0 recs
where are the Independent's polling in this race?

Wilson is using the Rove strategy to motivate the GOP's base in NM but it can't be working. Where are the independents polling in this race? The hardcore R's certainly will love Wilson's Kool-Aid but the I's must be aware of her political ploys. I agree with the texas dem that the 9-11 rhetoric is wearing off. It's nice to see she is being thrown under the buss by her republican colleagues, albeit indirectly.

by BlueCheese 2006-09-20 10:35AM | 0 recs
Re: NM-01: Wilson's Anti-Oversight Gambit Fails

even members of her own party

Not just random Republicans, either. The group of colleagues that balked at Wilson's proposal included not only Norquist disciple Jeff Flake, but also arch-conservative wingnut John Hostetler (IN-08).

by Christopher Walker 2006-09-20 12:21PM | 0 recs

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