Apr 20, 2009

Rep. Harman allegedly caught in wiretap*, **

A National Security Administration wiretap caught Rep. Jane Harman, D-El Segundo, allegedly making a quid pro quo deal with a "suspected Israeli spy" while she was trying to get appointed chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee (the position would go to Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas). From CQ Politics:
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 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.

Of course, this raises many question - not the least of which is: How did it come about that an NSA writetap was recording a phone call to a member of Congress? (h/t Talking Points Memo)

*Update: The Capital J questions the timing of these leaks.

**Updated, two: Jeff Stein joined Warren Olney on "Which Way, LA?" today to talk about his story. You can hear the interview tonight at 7:30 p.m. on KCRW 89.9 FM, or download it here.

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