Skip to comments.Major scandal erupts involving Rep. Jane Harman, Alberto Gonzales and AIPAC
Posted on 04/21/2009 3:34:20 AM PDT by FromLori
Major scandal erupts involving Rep. Jane Harman, Alberto Gonzales and AIPAC [updated below - Update II (Interview w/Jeff Stein)] Other obligations prevent me from writing until later today -- and I intend to focus on Rahm Emanuel's war-crimes-protecting proclamation that Obama's desire for immunity extends beyond CIA officers perpetrating torture to the "policy makers" who ordered it (watch today as the hardest-core Obama loyalists start explaining how the UN doesn't matter, international treaties are irrelevant, and war criminals need not be held accountable) -- but, until then, I wanted to highlight this extremely important and well-reported story from CQ's Jeff Stein, which involves allegations of major corruption and serious criminal activity on the part of Democratic Rep. Jane Harman. Here's one crucial prong of the story: Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.
(Excerpt) Read more at salon.com ...
NOTHING will happen to Jane Harmon...she’s Jewish and a Democrat woman.....NOTHING WILL HAPPEN! I could care less if something happens to Gonzalez.
I MEANT I could care less....I care SOME.
Democrats don’t have “major scandals.” They have “lapses in judgement” or “old news” or “distractions.”
I’m starting to think a big ole food fight is going on in DC right now. It just looks like that to me. If so, Harman isn’t the only one who will be trying to wipe mashed potatoes out of her hair.
Jim Lehrer actually invited a rat-faced weasel from the Stalinist-front "Kunstler cluster" (National Lawyers' Guild, Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice -- this guy was from the Center for Constitutional Responsibility [Payback Show-Trials]) on The News Hour to demand the same thing -- I can't believe Lehrer giving that Red ferret a platform. The only "balance" was a former intelligence official who knew lots of career CIA people whose names were in the hopper.
But that's what's up. Put George Bush on trial. Payback for 2000, and for 100 years of American resistance to the Reds.
Or fifty grand in a freezer. Ho, hum. Move along, please. Nothing to see here.
I am almost finished with a book by John Nance called “Headwind”. You might find it interesting. Very apropos to today’s situation. It is fiction but rings very true in many ways.
On the surface, Obama says no. But does he really mean "no"? He just threw documentary support out on the street when discretion would have said, don't do that. He had just politically and very publicly apologized to the planet for America 10 minutes before that.
So IMHO he's stirring up his cadres. Why? More misdirection for his and Nancy's key plays in the Congress, to keep them off Page One and the Right off balance?
What is Sloan?
Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC
By Jeff Stein, CQ SpyTalk Columnist
Rep. Jane Harman , the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.
Harman was recorded saying she would waddle into the AIPAC case if you think itll make a difference, according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.
In exchange for Harmans help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.
Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, This conversation doesnt exist.
Harman declined to discuss the wiretap allegations, instead issuing an angry denial through a spokesman.
These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact, Harman said in a prepared statement. I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves.
Its true that allegations of pro-Israel lobbyists trying to help Harman get the chairmanship of the intelligence panel by lobbying and raising money for Pelosi arent new.
They were widely reported in 2006, along with allegations that the FBI launched an investigation of Harman that was eventually dropped for a lack of evidence.
What is new is that Harman is said to have been picked up on a court-approved NSA tap directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington.
And that, contrary to reports that the Harman investigation was dropped for lack of evidence, it was Alberto R. Gonzales, President Bushs top counsel and then attorney general, who intervened to stop the Harman probe.
Why? Because, according to three top former national security officials, Gonzales wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administrations warrantless wiretapping program, which was about break in The New York Times and engulf the White House.
As for there being no evidence to support the FBI probe, a source with first-hand knowledge of the wiretaps called that bull****.
I read those transcripts, said the source, who like other former national security officials familiar with the transcript discussed it only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of domestic NSA eavesdropping.
Its true, added another former national security official who was briefed on the NSA intercepts involving Harman. She was on there.
Such accounts go a long way toward explaining not only why Harman was denied the gavel of the House Intelligence Committee, but failed to land a top job at the CIA or Homeland Security Department in the Obama administration.
Gonzales said through a spokesman that he would have no comment on the allegations in this story.
The identity of the suspected Israeli agent could not be determined with certainty, and officials were extremely skittish about going beyond Harmans involvement to discuss other aspects of the NSA eavesdropping operation against Israeli targets, which remain highly classified.
But according to the former officials familiar with the transcripts, the alleged Israeli agent asked Harman if she could use any influence she had with Gonzales, who became attorney general in 2005, to get the charges against the AIPAC officials reduced to lesser felonies.
AIPAC official Steve Rosen had been charged with two counts of conspiring to communicate, and communicating national defense information to people not entitled to receive it. Weissman was charged with conspiracy.
AIPAC dismissed the two in May 2005, about five months before the events here unfolded.
Harman responded that Gonzales would be a difficult task, because he just follows White House orders, but that she might be able to influence lesser officials, according to an official who read the transcript.
Justice Department attorneys in the intelligence and public corruption units who read the transcripts decided that Harman had committed a completed crime, a legal term meaning that there was evidence that she had attempted to complete it, three former officials said.
And they were prepared to open a case on her, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court, the secret panel established by the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to hear government wiretap requests.
First, however, they needed the certification of top intelligence officials that Harmans wiretapped conversations justified a national security investigation.
Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Departments FISA application. He also decided that, under a protocol involving the separation of powers, it was time to notify then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Pelosi, of the FBIs impending national security investigation of a member of Congress to wit, Harman.
Goss, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, deemed the matter particularly urgent because of Harmans rank as the panels top Democrat.
But thats when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.
According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he needed Jane to help support the administrations warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.
Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program
He was right.
On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.
Pelosi and Hastert never did get the briefing.
And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead.
Many people want to keep it that way.
Goss declined an interview request, and the CIA did not respond to a request to interview former Director Michael V. Hayden , who was informed of the Harman transcripts but chose to take no action, two knowledgeable former officials alleged.
Likewise, the first director of national intelligence, former ambassador John D. Negroponte, was opposed to an FBI investigation of Harman, according to officials familiar with his thinking, and let the matter die. (Negroponte was traveling last week and did not respond to questions relayed to him through an assistant.)
Harman dodged a bullet, say disgusted former officials who have pursued the AIPAC case for years. She was protected by an administration desperate for help.
Its the deepest kind of corruption, said a recently retired longtime national security official who was closely involved in AIPAC investigation, which was years in the making.
Its a story about the corruption of government not legal corruption necessarily, but ethical corruption.
Ironically, however, nothing much was gained by it.
The Justice Department did not back away from charging Rosen and fellow AIPAC official Keith Weissman with espionage (for allegedly giving classified Pentagon documents to Israeli officials).
Gonzales was engulfed by the NSA warrantless wiretapping scandal.
And Jane Harman was relegated to chairing a House Homeland Security subcommittee.
Jeff Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you could care less, why not state your current level of not caring? If you could care less, by your statement, you would, but don’t state your actual level of disgust! If you couldn’t care less you already have reached a complete point of not caring. It is a way of saying you have no emotional stake in the point. Why say you could care less? Simply state your current level of caring! It is pointless to say you could care less. At least stating that you couldn’t care less shows exactly the point you have reached per the point at hand. And frankly, I couldn’;t care less about your continuum!
Love it! Great illustration. "Could care less" has become a commonplace in the American lexicon. Few think of what they're actually saying. This is one of those pet peeves of mine, but I usually ignore it...
The expression drives me nuts also.
Great chart! This is one of my pet peeves, too. As with “irregardless,” it doesn’t really make sense when broken down. Even my immigrant relatives from China have finally picked up on these two items and started politely correcting their American-born co-workers.
I think Doc Savage’s ire above was misdirected but I could be wrong.
Thanks for the heads up on the book. I’ll check out the library today...
I've actually had people look at me funny when I say "I couldn't care less". It always makes me chuckle. People use "could" because it's used everywhere by everyone. They simply don't give time to the meaning. It's become an accepted phrase, unfortunately.
We don't actually have proof this happened, and it is the basis for the entire story.
Harmon denies it. Of course, she would deny it. Except that if the transcripts actually exist, you would think that rather than denying she said something that is on tape, she would instead have given an explanation for why what she said doesn't mean what they say.
But all we have is a reporter's word about two anonymous former NSA employees who claim they read the transcript.
Now, if this transcript was classified, as it should have been, it seems there should be a record of who at the NSA read the transcript, so it should be easy to find out who is leaking classified information.
So the first question is, why isn't there an outcry to find out who is leaking classified information, like there was about "Valerie Plame". Second, why leak the information ABOUT the transcript, rather than leaking the actual transcript?
Note that the entire story is a setup just to get to another "scandal", the claim (by these same two sources?) that Gonzales used this tape to blackmail a congresswoman.
If it is the same two sources, how would they know what is happening in the FBI? They would have been NSA, right?
There has been no paper released yet. No transcript, no Goss-signed requests for FISA, no justice department memo.
and officials were extremely skittish about going beyond Harmans involvement to discuss other aspects of the NSA eavesdropping operation against Israeli targets, which remain highly classified.
It is telling clue when someone is willing to divulge secrets, but only enough to implicate one person, and then they refuse to talk about anybody else. If the story is false, this makes sense, because while the denial of one person can be explained as them lying to protect themselves, the more people you implicate in the false story, the more people might have proof you are lying and come out to show you to be a liar.
Salon is not a trustworthy news source. They love to run with anonymous sources if those sources attack their enemies. This is the group that ran as fact the unproven and illogical charges that then-Senator George Allen regularly used the N-word at College, and killed a deer and stuck it's head in the mailbox of a poor black family.
I don’t know that it is “unfortunate”. A lot of language just comes about because that’s how it’s used. Sure, “I could care less” doesn’t make logical sense, but as a phrase, people know EXACTLY what you mean by it, which means it works.
Well, it is if solely from the standpoint of misspeak. It works, yes, but it reflects the unthinking nature of public discourse today. I agree with your premise of how it comes about. And that's why I don't make a big deal of it when I see or hear it (beyond that chuckle...). This thread is simply an opportunity to discuss the term.
As Caring approaches zero.....
Took me twice but verrrry clever!
So we do not have the 'tape' or transcript but descriptions from two former nsa officials 'familiar' with said transcript?
Is this about getting Jane or limiting who gets wiretapped in the future to those that have been labeled as 'right-winged' extremists by HLS? I am sure not getting out of this story that the tapping authority is what is going to be ended.
Like I said before. ALL FOREIGN lobby groups should be banned from access to OUR government. Also, it is well know that the MOSSAD has more spies in the US than China.
Why? Why is questioning Israel motivations out of the question? Friends don’t spy on friends. There is no trust, only dependence upon US dominance and money.
Of course but foreign trade and war interests have your reps by the ball$ and that won't change.
That would be sweet!...
The Left isn't planning to let us "win power back".
As I said just after the election: "Politics is over."
In today's WSJ. Political Diary
Jane's Intelligence Failure
In Harman's Way
News that a National Security Agency wiretap back in October, 2005 picked up a conversation in which a leading Democratic congresswoman appeared to agree to seek lenient treatment for two pro-Israeli lobbyists being probed for espionage activity has Washington buzzing.
Rep. Jane Harman of California was the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee from 2003 through 2007. During that time she had great ambitions to become chairman of the committee if Democrats took back control of the House. But she and Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi had long been rivals in California politics, and she eventually was dumped from the committee altogether when Democrats took over after the 2006 elections.
But in 2005, Ms. Harman was a queen bee of U.S. intelligence, which is why NSA officials were startled by her phone conversation with a suspected Israeli agent seeking help for two employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who were under investigation by the Justice Department as potential spies. Transcripts of the call reviewed by officials interviewed by Congressional Quarterly and the New York Times indicate that Ms. Harman said she would have more influence with an unnamed White House official than with Justice. She told her caller that she would "waddle into" the AIPAC case "if you think it'll make a difference." In exchange for Ms. Harman's help, the suspected Israeli contact allegedly pledged to help lobby Ms. Pelosi to appoint Ms. Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee. Ms. Harman clearly sensed the sensitivity of the call because she ended it with these words: "This conversation doesn't exist."
No one knows if Ms. Harman acted on her statements offering to help. If she did, they didn't work. The Justice Department continued its probe and charged AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman with trafficking in classified information. They go on trial in a few weeks.
Longstanding guidelines at the time called for any intelligence concerns involving a member of Congress to be reported to then-GOP House Speaker Denny Hastert and then-Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. It may well be that Ms. Pelosi needed no excuse to exercise her discretion in blocking Ms. Harman's ambitions to chair the Intelligence Committee. Ms. Harman issued a statement yesterday in which she said: "These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact. I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves."
Does the story go anywhere from here? The left-wing blogosphere will spin claims that Ms. Harman provided key support for the Bush Administration's warrantless wiretapping program in exchange for not pursuing her. I doubt that's the case given Ms. Harman's longstanding support of U.S. intelligence programs in the wake of 9/11. Many journalists will be hot to know the identity of the White House official that Ms. Harman is alleged to have had clout with, but that's likely a dead end.
As for any kind of official investigation of Ms. Harman, it's unlikely to occur four years after the alleged incident. Jeff Stein, the Congressional Quarterly reporter who broke the story, says he doubts there will be any probe. "Last time I checked, the White House and Congress were in the hands of the Democrats," he writes. He also notes that Republicans may not be eager to make too much of the scandal given the controversial role Bush administration officials such as former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez played in the warrantless wiretap debate.
Despite her denials, Ms. Harman's reputation will suffer some damage and she may have to worry about a primary challenge come 2010. As for Republicans taking political advantage of the situation, it's unlikely any GOPer could gain traction against her in a district that Barack Obama carried with some 70% of the vote.
-- John Fund
Sadly toooo few truly understood the gravity of those words.
We shall see.
I think you're right.
That’s what you think. There will come a day where America will have to search for her own soul and THE PEOPLE will have to make a choice for them.
I think the American people (not all, but enough) IF they hear about this, simply won’t care. They won’t put pressure on their representatives to do anything about it, and Harman’s constituents will re-elect her to boot. I would love to be wrong, but I doubt I am.
I agree with you. Why the right is in love with Israel, when she spies on us and comes very close into dragging us into needless wars is beyond me