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...

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Thankyou For Caring, But I'll Keep My 4th!

http://www.aclu.org/safefree/nsaspying/2 6722prs20060913.html


"Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee acted as a rubber stamp for the administration's abuse of power," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "Congress has a right and obligation to conduct meaningful oversight on the unlawful actions of the president. But instead of investigating lawbreaking, the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to make it legal. We urge the full Senate to reject any attempts to ratify this illegal program."

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Do You Trust George Bush?

The issue with NSA spying and the FISA court is very simple.  Do you trust Bush?  If so, then let Arlen Specter's bill (S2453) empower him with limitless authority to spy on you and your family.  The FISA legislation Specter authored completely neuters any oversight the courts have over wiretapping.

If you don't trust Bush, call the Senators on the Judiciary Committee and ask them to vote against Specter's proposed legislation on FISA.  Here are the phone numbers for the Judiciary Committee.

Senators aren't expecting a lot of feedback on this bill, since it's a hot July and few people are paying attention.  Well-placed phone calls can matter here.  The House will take up the bill eventually as well, so we'll have to go to the House if we can't stop it in the Senate.

Oh, and candidates that are challenging incumbents - now's a good time to go on the record about this legislation.

Arlen Specter, Chairman - Pennsylvania - Fax (202) 228-1229
Orrin G. Hatch - Utah - Fax (202) 224-6331
Patrick J. Leahy - Vermont - Fax (202) 224-3479
Charles E. Grassley - Iowa - Fax (515) 288-5097
Edward M. Kennedy - Massachusetts - Fax (202) 224-2417
Jon Kyl - Arizona - Fax (202) 224-2207
Joseph R. Biden, Jr. - Delaware - Fax (202) 224-0139
Mike DeWine - Ohio - Fax (202) 224-6519
Herbert Kohl - Wisconsin - Fax (202) 224-9787
Jeff Sessions - Alabama - Fax (202) 224-3149
Dianne Feinstein - California - Fax (202) 228-3954
Lindsey Graham - South Carolina - Fax (864) 250-4322
Russell D. Feingold - Wisconsin - Fax (202) 224-2725
John Cornyn - Texas - Fax (972) 239-2110
Charles E. Schumer - New York - Fax (202) 228-3027
Sam Brownback - Kansas - Fax (202) 228-1265
Richard J. Durbin - Illinois - Fax (202) 228-0400
Tom Coburn - Oklahoma - Fax (202) 224-6008

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Warrantless Wiretaps - Spector's Loophole?

I am concerned there is a potential loophole the size of a Mack truck in the recently announced "deal" between Senator Spector and the White House.  

Most of the press accounts say that the President will submit the warrantless wiretap program to the FISA court for Constitutional review.  It doesn't say that the FISA court will be reviewing the legality of the program, only the Constitutionality.  

If the language of Spector's bill limits the jurisdiction of the FISA court soley to review the Constitutionality of the program then this deal should be opposed, and Spector has completely caved.

Every lawyer without an axe to grind who has looked at the question (albeit with the limited information available publicly)  has concluded that much of the features of the warrantless wire tap program do not comply with the requirements of FISA.  But that quesiton will not be before the court.

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Tell Bush Illegal Wiretapping is Wrong

Tell your Senator to Hold Bush Accountable for Illegal Wiretapping, Support Censure.

One of the most important liberties, enshrined in our Constitution, is the right to privacy -the fourth amendment. Unfortunately, this American freedom is being violated by our government through the use of illegal wiretapping.

The Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) allows the executive branch the government to wiretap suspected terrorists in the United States. However, FISA only allows wiretapping with permission of the court, within 72 hours during a state of emergency, or during the first fifteen days of a Congressional Declaration of War. Furthermore FISA makes it a crime to wiretap outside of this authority.

The authorization of military force on September 18th 2001 did NOT grant the president power to wiretap without a court order; and, contrary to what Bush thinks, the president's constitutional authority does NOT grant the power necessary to issue warrant-less wiretapping outside the realm of FISA.  Ask your Senator to censure Mr. Bush for authorizing this illegal program.

To take Action Visit: http://www.gp.org/action/index.shtml
More info on the Green Party Visit: www.gp.org

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