Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Power of Conscience Emerges in the House (Charles Boustany not affected)

This could be big.

A Republican House subcommittee chairman has broken with the Bush administration over the issue of domestic spying.

The New York Times is reporting that "Republican Representative Heather A. Wilson of New Mexico, chairwoman of the House Intelligence Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence, said in an interview that she had 'serious concerns' about the surveillance program. By withholding information about its operations from many lawmakers, she said, the administration has deepened her apprehension about whom the agency is monitoring and why."

Rep. Wilson is not to be taken lightly:
Ms. Wilson said in the interview Tuesday that she considered the limited Congressional briefings to be "increasingly untenable" because they left most lawmakers knowing little about the program. She said the House Intelligence Committee needed to conduct a "painstaking" review, including not only classified briefings but also access to internal documents and staff interviews with N.S.A. aides and intelligence officials.

Ms. Wilson, a former Air Force officer who is the only female veteran currently in Congress, has butted up against the administration previously over controversial policy issues, including Medicare and troop strength in Iraq. She said she realized that publicizing her concerns over the surveillance program could harm her relations with the administration. "The president has his duty to do, but I have mine too, and I feel strongly about that," she said.
It's always trouble when a serious person starts talking about duty to the cabal that tries to run the country like it's a privately held company.

The significance is that Bush's legislative successes and his ability to successfully stonewall investigations (like the one into fixing the intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq) has been lock-step, rock-solid, unwavering unity among Republicans in the House and Senate.

Heretofore, the House has been the more stalwart of the two bastions of Bush/Cheney-ism, but now it appears to be wavering in the face of the NSA spy case, which even Senate Republicans and other conservatives are viewing with alarm.

Could it be that the NSA spying will be viewed as Bush/Cheney's 'grab too far'? That is, a less brazen attempt to claim executive pre-imminence might have passed muster, but the claims that Bush, Cheney, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Michael Hayden, don't fit with the theory of constitutional government that has prevailed in this country since 1781.

Never underestimate the power of conscience to change politics.

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