Interrogation Bill: Frist to Bring the Filibuster?

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Sep 20, 2006 9:00 AM

Countdown to Productivity: 9 Days Left in Session

Frist and White House allies are threatening a filibuster over the McCain/Warner/Graham interrogation bill:

Frist's chief of staff, Eric M. Ueland, called the dissidents' bill "dead."

I wonder if McCain is brassy enough to pull out some up-or-down vote rhetoric on the Leader. And, in case that's not reminiscent enough of '05 for you, Tim Chapman reports that the Gang of White House critics on the detainee bill is starting to look a whole lot like the Gang of 14.

Looks like the White House and Frist are good-cop, bad-copping it:

Frist's harsh criticism of the McCain-sponsored bill was surprising, given that many of his GOP colleagues have sought to downplay their differences over the tribunal legislation and are anxious to head off a politically embarrassing intra-party brawl on the Senate floor.

Has the White House blinked?

Seeking a deal with Senate Republicans on the rules governing the interrogation of terrorism suspects, the White House has dropped its insistence on redefining the obligations of the United States under the Geneva Conventions, members of Congress and aides said Tuesday...

The two sides were said to be exchanging proposals and counterproposals late Tuesday in a showdown that could have substantial ramifications for national security policy and the political climate heading toward Election Day.

The developments suggested that the White House had blinked first in its standoff with the senators, who include John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and John McCain of Arizona. But few details were available, and it was not clear whether a compromise was imminent or whether the White House had shifted its stance significantly.

On eavesdropping, the Washington Post editorial board has bravely thrown its weight behind the idea of...doing nothing.

Two House bills are going to committee today (two versions of the same bill, both written primarily by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.):

Two House committees will draft National Security Agency eavesdropping bills this week that would take still another tack on surveillance, but those measures also face resistance, acknowledged Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.), the primary author of the measures.

Wilson, previously dubbed the author of thedumbest bill ever, is now all about the healing:
Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., is swapping her original bill giving legal status to Bush's domestic surveillance program with one that would grant a key administration request: allow wiretapping without warrants on Americans when the president believes a terrorist attack is ``imminent.''

But the concession carries a price for the president, according to a draft of Wilson's bill obtained by The Associated Press.

Under the measure, the administration would be required to share more details of the nature of the threat with the House and Senate leaders and the chairmen of both intelligence committees, who then would decide without administration input which lawmakers would receive the classified information.

But the inside-baseball experts at CQ foresee problems for her bills, despite the changes:

The Bush administration wants the bill also to authorize warrantless surveillance in the event of an imminent attack.

That modification and other proposals sought by the administration and House GOP leaders were expected to come to a vote in the Judiciary Committee last week. But the committee pulled the bill from its calendar when several Republicans objected, in part because they wanted time to review the new proposals. The delay bought the committee time to brief those Republicans on the new proposals.

Some of the objecting Republicans, however, have expressed reservations about the warrantless wiretapping program. Three GOP defections would result in a tie vote if all Democrats vote against Wilson’s bill.

John Boehner has signaled the eavesdropping bill will come to the floor in the House before an interrogation bill. 
 
Some Republicans are balking at getting two important bills done before the session ends. Hugh Hewitt says suck it up.
 
Or, you could follow the Washington Post's advice and do nothing. I'm sure that would play well in November.
 
Update: The Gang of 14 surrenders to war criminals, and Michelle don't like it one bit.
 
Update: See the utter horror of proposed CIA interrogation tactics. Beware before you click. Graphic video ahead. Treacher has further evidence of barbarism. Gobsmacking!