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Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Heather Wilson

  • House of Representatives, R-NM (1998-2009)

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Heather Wilson is a former Republican congresswoman from New Mexico. The first woman veteran in U.S. history to serve in Congress, Wilson represented New Mexico’s Albuquerque-based first district from 1998 until 2009, launching failed Senate bids in 2008 and 2012.

A graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy (1982), she was a Rhodes Scholar and earned her masters and doctoral degrees in international relations from Oxford University in England. After leaving the Air Force in 1989, she served as Director for European Defense Policy and Arms Control on the National Security Council staff at the White House under President George H.W. Bush. In 1991 Wilson founded Keystone International Inc. to work with senior executives in large American defense and scientific corporations with business development and program planning work in the United States and Russia.[1]

Although she cultivated a moderate political persona during her time in office,[2] Wilson’s support for the Bush administration’s Middle East policies and nuclear arms ambitions won her the support of both the president and the vice president.

Wilson supported the U.S. invasion of Iraq and opposed congressional efforts to force early U.S. withdrawal from the conflict. She also supported the Bush administration’s efforts to tighten sanctions on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and voted to approve funds supporting a “democratic transition” in the country.[3]

As chair of the National Security Subcommittee of the House Policy Committee, Wilson helped shape an increasingly militarist foreign policy early in the Bush administration. The committee's February 2003 report Differentiation and Defense: An Agenda for the Nuclear Weapons Program, for example, helped to push nuclear policy towards research and development of small "bunker busting" nuclear weapons, an agenda already outlined in the Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review. The review, which was leaked to the media in January 2002, was reportedly heavily influenced by the work of the National Institute of Public Policy, a think tank devoted to promoting militaristic strategic weapons policies, many of whose collaborators served in the George W. Bush administration’s Deterrence Concepts Advisory Panel.

Under Wilson’s leadership, the National Security Subcommittee helped develop the House Policy Statement on Missile Defense. This policy statement suggested that the president was correct to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Defense Treaty with the Soviet Union and endorsed the Bush administration's plans for global missile defense projects.

Late in her congressional tenure, Wilson became increasingly critical of the Bush administration’s surveillance tactics, calling in February 2006 for a full congressional investigation after revelations that the administration had ordered the warrantless wiretapping of communications by U.S. citizens. She was the first Intelligence Committee Republican to make such a demand.[4]

George W. Bush and Dick Cheney each spoke at fundraisers for Wilson throughout her congressional career, with Cheney helping to raise over $100,000 for Wilson’s Senate bid at a fundraiser as late as 2007.[5]

Campaign Finance

In virtually all of her campaigns, Wilson has received large amounts of money defense contractors and the energy and natural resource industries. Her top career contributors included Lockheed Martin and Yates Petroleum.[6]

In 2002 Wilson received $1,000 from the American Dream Political Action Committee, run by Austin, TX Republican Henry Bonilla. The PAC, which was aimed at supporting ethnic minority Republican candidates, was found to have spent a mere 10 percent of its resources on donations to candidates and the executive director was found to have embezzled much of the PAC's money. Nearly half of the $10,500 in donations in 2002, or $5,000, went to Bonilla, and only one other donation went to a minority Republican congressional candidate: Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Cuban American from Florida. Wilson was one of the other three recipients, none of whom were minorities. (The other congressional donations went to Rep. Steve Buyer, a white attorney from Indiana; and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a white Dallas businessman).[7]

 

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Sources

[1] Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, “Heather Wilson,” http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=w000789.

[2] See, for example, Michael Coleman, “Wilson Record a Maverick Streak, Not GOP Buckin’,” ABQ Journal, March 12, 2006,http://www.abqjournal.com/opinion/coleman/441222opinion03-12-06.htm.  

[3] OnTheIssues.org, “Heather Wilson on War and Peace,” http://www.ontheissues.org/international/Heather_Wilson_War_+_Peace.htm.

[4] Eric Lichtblau, “Republican Who Oversees N.S.A. Calls for Wiretap Inquiry,” New York Times, February 8, 2006,http://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/08/politics/08nsa.html?hp&ex=1139461200&en=cabc2935edc1c5a4&ei=5094&partner=homepage&_r=0.

[5] Aaron Blake, “Wilson pulls $110,000 at Cheney fundraiser,” The Hill, November 16, 2007, http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/866-wilson-pulls-110000-at-cheney-fundraiser.

[6] See OpenSecrets.org, Heather Wilson career profile, http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=Career&type=I&cid=N00006546&newMem=N&recs=20.

[7] Gary Martin, "PAC's numbers a real nightmare," San Antonio Express-News, July 26, 2003, p. 11B.

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Heather Wilson Résumé

Affiliations

  • Association of Commerce and Industry1992-1995
  • Chamber of Commerce 1992-1995
  • Quality New Mexico: Board of Directors
  • Republican Policy Committee: Former Member


Government

  • U.S. House of Representatives (R-NM):1998 to 2009
  • US Air Force: 1978-1987
  • NATO: Defense Planning Officer,1987-1989
  • National Security Council: Defense Policy and Arms Control Director, National Security Council, 1989-1991
  • New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department: Cabinet secretary, 1995-1998


Business

  • Keystone International: Founder and President, 1991-1995


Education

  • Oxford University: MPhil (1984); DPhil in International Relations, Rhodes Scholar, 1985
  • United States Air Force Academy: B.S. in International Politics, 1982

Related:

Heather Wilson News Feed

Air Force Secretary Wilson on the challenges facing the force in 2019 - FortuneQ&A: US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson says change is underway, Space Force or not - SpaceNewsSpace Force? Coming to a TV near you. - DefenseNews.comSpace-based interceptors and drones with lasers: the Pentagon's Missile Defense Review wish-list revealed - DefenseNews.comPOLITICO Playbook PM: The theatrical shutdown - POLITICONew in 2019: Growing the force — the road to 386 squadrons - AirForceTimes.comExecutive Mosaic Announces 2019 Wash100 Inductees - GovConWireHeather Wilson: Air Force Pursuing Space Mission as Trump Pushes Space Force - ExecutiveGovTwo Lawmakers Call For Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson To Replace James Mattis - The Inquisitr NewsPegasus arrives: KC-46 tanker makes America more effective in era of growing threats - AirForceTimes.comPresident Trump issues order to create US Space Command - SpaceNewsDNI Coats, Air Force Sec. Wilson Favorites for Defense Secretary - NewsmaxFour big questions for the Air Force in 2019 - DefenseNews.comSpaceX launches Air Force's best GPS yet, ends banner year - AirForceTimes.comAir Force accepts Boeing's tanker - The GazetteNot a ‘Department of No,’ New Defense Chief Turns Trump’s Demands Into Policy - The New York TimesPentagon discriminates against HIV-positive service members, suit claims - NBCNews.comFirst KC-46 delivery stalled by Mattis' departure - AirForceTimes.comSpaceX opens new GPS era with launch of 'Vespucci' from Cape Canaveral - Florida TodayAir Force legend, Medal of Honor recipient, Joe Jackson dies at 95 - AirForceTimes.com

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