Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bombshell: Rep. Jane Harman to Lobby for Alleged AIPAC/Israel Spies?

Bombshell: Rep. Jane Harman Caught on Tape Agreeing to Lobby for Alleged AIPAC/Israel Spies?

Posted by Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports at 8:50 AM on April 20, 2009.

Harman was allegedly heard saying she'd 'waddle into' the AIPAC case in return for support for her bid to become chair of the Intelligence Committee.

This is a huge story: Representative Jane Harman, a hawkish, influential “Blue Dog” Democrat “was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington,” according to a report from CQ Politics:

Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.

In exchange for Harman’s 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 doesn’t exist.”

It really comes as no surprise Rep. Jane Harman was caught on a federal wiretap offering to lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against AIPAC officials. Much of Congress is beholden to the Israeli pressure group. Instead of taking note of this common practice — politicians coming to the rescue of their favored constituents at the expensive of those they were elected to represent — we should take note of the willingness of the NSA and FBI to make this information public. Somebody wanted Jane Harman out of the picture.

The case is yet another example of how politics works in the District of Criminals. In exchange for help in getting espionage-related charges reduced against two AIPAC officials, a suspected Israeli agent pledged to lobby Nancy Pelosi, then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, according to CQ Politics.

More specifically, the Los Angeles Times reveals, the caller told Harman Haim Saban would threaten to withhold campaign contributions from Pelosi unless Harman became committee chairwoman.

In October, 2006, AIPAC denied the allegations. “AIPAC would never engage in a quid pro quo in relation to a federal investigation or any federal matter and the notion that it would do so is preposterous,” AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton told Time Magazine at the time.

CQ’s Jeff Stein says then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales intervened on Harman’s behalf because he needed her help selling the Bush administration’s illegal warrantless wiretap program. Harman “helped persuade [The New York Times] 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,” according to Stein.

Haim Saban, an Israeli-American media mogul, has been described by the New York Times as a “tireless cheerleader for Israel.” Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described Saban as “a dear personal friend. Haim Saban is a great American citizen and a man who always stood by Israel and the Jewish people in times of need. His contribution to strengthening ties between Israel and American political leaders from all parties has been quite remarkable and outstanding.”

Earlier this year, it was reported that Israeli spokeswoman Tzipora Menache allegedly said she was not worried about negative ramifications related to the Israeli onslaught on Gaza. “You know very well, and the stupid Americans know equally well, that we control their government, irrespective of who sits in the White House,” she reportedly said. “You see, I know it and you know it that no American president can be in a position to challenge us even if we do the unthinkable. What can they (Americans) do to us? We control congress, we control the media, we control show biz, and we control everything in America. In America you can criticize God, but you can’t criticize Israel.”

In 2001, then foreign Minister Shimon Peres reportedly told Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during a cabinet meeting: “I want to tell you something very clear, don’t worry about American pressure on Israel, we, the Jewish people control America, and the Americans know it.” ” The exchange was reported by Kol Yisrael radio.

“I’m a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel,” Saban told Forbes in 2003.

Harman’s office told the Associated Press she “never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former AIPAC employees, and the Justice Department never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation.”

In a statement, Harman attempted to change the subject. “If there is anything about this story that should arouse concern it is that the Bush administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional intelligence committees.” Harman didn’t bother to mention the fact she had leaned on the New York Times in order to get the newspaper to hold off on publishing an article on the unconstitutional NSA wiretap program.

“Harman is a poster child for what has been wrong with Congress for the last 8 years,” writes George Washington’s Blog. She needs to be brought up on ethics and bribery charges immediately and drummed out of Congress. If the AIPAC operatives are convicted, treason charges against Harman should not be ruled out.

Blue Dog Rep. Jane Harman -- once the most vigorous Democratic cheerleader of Bush's NSA warrantless eavesdropping program -- is rip-roarin' angry today. Apparently, her private conversations were eavesdropped on by the U.S. Government! This is a grave outrage that, as she told Andrea Mitchell just moments ago, demands a probing investigation:

That's what I asked Attorney General Holder to do -- to release any tapes, I don't know whether they were legally made or not, of my conservations about this matter . . . and to hope that he will investigate whether other members of Congress or other innocent Americans might have been subject to this same treatment. I call it an abuse of power in the letter I wrote him this morning. . . .

I'm just very disappointed that my country -- I'm an American citizen just like you are -- could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I'm one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I'm thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening in on their conversations, and they're innocent Americans.

So if I understand this correctly -- and I'm pretty sure I do -- when the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of the law, that was "both legal and necessary" as well as "essential to U.S. national security," and it was the "despicable" whistle-blowers (such as Thomas Tamm) who disclosed that crime and the newspapers which reported it who should have been criminally investigated, but not the lawbreaking government officials. But when the U.S. Government legally and with warrants eavesdrops on Jane Harman, that is an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violent assault on her rights as an American citizen, and full-scale investigations must be commenced immediately to get to the bottom of this abuse of power. Behold Jane Harman's overnight transformation from Very Serious Champion of the Lawless Surveillance State to shrill civil liberties extremist.

But I'm really wondering: as serious as it is when a member of Congress is the target of government eavesdropping, can we really afford to investigate this? After all, we have so many very important things to do. It really seems like we need to be looking forward, not backwards. The Bush administration is gone. This all happened in 2005 -- years ago. Is this really a time to be pursuing grudges, to be re-litigating old disputes? What kind of partisan witch hunt is Harman after? We can, and surely should, reflect on what happened to her -- in fact, let us now pause together for a moment of quiet reflection on what was done to Jane Harman -- but this is not a time for retribution or looking back. "Most Americans" want the people's business done, not "abuse of power" investigations.

Besides, if Jane Harman didn't do anything wrong -- as she claims -- then what does she have to hide? Only Terrorists and criminals would mind the Government listening in. We all know that government officials have better things to do than worry about what innocent Americans are saying. If she did nothing wrong -- if all she was doing was talking to her nice constituents and AIPAC supporters about how she could be of service -- then Bush officials obviously weren't interested in what she had to say.

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