Monday, April 20, 2009

How Many Corrupt Things Can Jane Harman Do At Once?

Via Matt, this Jane Harman story from Jeff Stein at CQ is just amazing. The story starts with two agents of the anti-Palestinian group AIPAC being in trouble for spying on America. On the phone with Harman, an Israeli agent offers to lobby Nancy Pelosi to let Harman become chair of the House intelligence committee, if Harman lobbies Alberto Gonzalez to go easy on the AIPAC guys. She tells them that she knows Gonzales is just a Bush Administration sockpuppet who doesn't have the independence to be worth negotiating with, but she'll put pressure on figures lower down in the Justice Department hierarchy. Knowing that she's doing something wrong, she ends the conversation with "This conversation doesn’t exist" and hangs up.

(After the Democrats won the House, Pelosi gave the Intelligence chair to Silvestre Reyes instead of Harman, whom she didn't trust. Reyes is not the most intelligent guy on Intelligence -- that'd be Rush Holt -- but he's less tangled in corrupt machinations than Harman. Also, he voted against the Iraq War, while Harman voted for it, and the most senior non-Harman Democrat on the committee, Alcee Hastings, is kind of a mess.)

Anyway, how do we know about this conversation? We know it because Harman was caught on an NSA wiretap, and intelligence community people who have seen the transcripts told Jeff Stein about it. At the time, CIA director Porter Goss saw what she was tangled up in and signed off on a national security investigation. Pelosi and Dennis Hastert are about to be notified.

And here's where the story gets an extra dose of crazy. The NSA is going to investigate Harman about it, but when the possibility of an investigation gets up to Gonzales, he uses the situation as a bargaining chip with Harman. What deal does Gonzales offer? He won't investigate Harman on the basis of the wiretaps, or let Pelosi and Hastert know what she was doing, if she comes out and publicly defends warrantless wiretapping! And with the Bush Administration's wiretapping program under fire from the New York Times, that's what she does:

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.”

This is just a horrendous story of corruption, folly, and self-pwnage. And it involves the Democrat who was in line to become Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Moral of the story: Nancy Pelosi is infallible, and will be the angel of your salvation.
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