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Harman to Holder: Release the Tapes

By Garance Franke-Ruta
California Democrat Jane Harman sent Attorney General Eric Holder a letter today expressing outrage over the wiretapping of conversations she had with a man described in a CQ report as a "suspected Israeli agent" and demanding that the full transcripts of the tapes be released in unredacted form to the American public.

She also took to MSNBC to vehemently deny any wrongdoing.

"I am outraged to learn from reports leaked to the media over the last several days that the FBI or NSA secretly wiretapped my conversations in 2005 or 2006 while I was Ranking Member on the House Intelligence Committee," Rep. Harman wrote to Holder. "This abuse of power is outrageous and I call on your Department to release all transcripts and other investigative material involving me in an unredacted form. It is my intention to make this material available to the public."

"If there are tapes out there, bring it on!" she told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "That's what I've asked Attorney General Holder to do, to release any tapes."

She continued in the letter: "Let me be absolutely clear: I never contacted the Department of Justice, the White House or anyone else to seek favorable treatment regarding the national security cases on which I was briefed, or any other cases. You may be aware that David Szady, the FBI's former top counterintelligence official, is quoted in the media saying of me ' all my dealings with her, she was always professional and never tried to intervene or get in the way of any investigation.'"

She wrote: "I also urge you to take appropriate steps to investigate possible wiretapping of other Members of Congress and selective leaks of investigative material which can be used for political purposes. As you know, it is entirely appropriate to converse with advocacy organizations and constituent groups, and I am concerned about a chilling effect on other elected officials who may find themselves in my situation."

Harman told Mitchell that the first time she learned of the wiretaps was when the CQ reporter, Jeff Stein, contacted her office after hours last Thursday evening.

"I was never notified by the Justice Department that I was under any form of investigation whatsoever," she said.

And she vehemently denied having lobbied the White House or Bush Justice Department over the investigation of two American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials. "I didn't contact the Justice Department or anybody in the administration EVER asking for lenient sentences for anybody," she said.

"I've had a long friendship with AIPAC. I didn't need to cut some deal with AIPAC.... No deals were cut with any groups for any reason ever," she added.

"I never called White House officials, Justice Department officials, any officials, the press, anyone. I did not intervene... I never cut any deals," she said.

By Web Politics Editor  |  April 21, 2009; 3:58 PM ET
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Next: Harman Scheduled to Speak at AIPAC Conference


Jane Harman speaks to hundreds of people during the course of a single month. I respect the fact that she is requesting all wiretaps to be released. Most of us know how redacted transcripts often present only one side of an event. Often, the context is totally missing.

Way to go, Jane. Thank you for your willingness to be open.

Posted by: EarlC | April 21, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

There is no doubt that Harmon needs to be investigated despite her expressing some phony outrage over the wiretapping of her conversations with various people. Someone dumb enough to be using a phone for conversations with suspect people or organizations is also probably dumb enough to be involved where she shouldn't be.

Just because she is a congressperson doesn’t automatically exempt her from suspicion or closer examination, particularly where the Israeli’s are concerned and possibly involved. Her constituents certainly need to know what she has been up to.

Posted by: surfer-joe | April 21, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Ahh! Betraying the US. That's OK if it benefits Israel. We know that. So why the fuss? It's not like she is going out of her way to help an inferior people.

Rock on, Harman. You need the money, and they need our secrets. Symbiotic relationship, not corruption and betrayal.

Posted by: Aeschylus | April 21, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Well well well - Wasn;t every democrat phones taped during the Bush adminiostration. Nothing suprise me about
that admistration andI wonder how many average america were also wiretapped.

Go After then Jane.

Posted by: bertha4 | April 21, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I was told that if I voted for McCain I would get an out-of-control executive branch of government that would use illegal wire taps on its political enemies. I guess "they" were right.

Posted by: Fiftycaltx | April 21, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Why the outrage, Ms. Harman? You helped the Evil One and sock puppet turn this country into a police state, and now you have to live with the results. It's particularly ironic, considering that you voted (if I remember correctly) for immunity for the telecom companies who carried out the wiretaps!

And that bit about releasing transcripts? Ha. For national security reasons, I'm afraid you won't be able to see the evidence against you.

Congress really screwed up this time. Usually, they exempt themselves from any law that matters. Poetic justice.

Posted by: JBG724 | April 21, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

I predict these are the last 5 years of the control of AIPAC on the US legislature and Presidency.

For one thing the average US citizen is questioning what is the advantage to the general US population of an unquestioning support of Israel. Yes we have a "democratic" hand in the Middle East to keep an eye on Middle Eastern oil. On the other hand, the one unqualified success of the Bush doctrine in that we have our own boys on Middle Eastern soil in Iraq to take care of contingencies. When Obama says "We will be as careful getting out as we were careless going in," he is in effect saying we will take our own sweet time before we give up the Iraqi foothold.

This being the case, why do we need to pay the price that an unquestioning support of Israel brings with it as a caveat. For access to oil resources cultivating friendships with the Saudis, as both father and son Bandar bushes did, is a better option than virtual slavery to AIPAC.

Secondly, the AIPAC foothold on the financial system, while still very strong, has been weakened as people become aware of the consequences of the rampant greed of this lobby. Main Street rightly has begun questioning Wall Street.

Finally, the so-called evangelical "Christians" like Sarah Palin have been discredited. Their "Do I love a Righteous War, you betcha, wink, wink," strategy has fallen flat on its face.

The time is coming when the US will truly look after US interests and not those of this well connected lobby. Obama will take his time getting there. Real-politik requires this. But get there he will.

Posted by: teferet | April 21, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

*Sigh ...* Another day, another wiretapping scandal. Interesting that Harman suddenly gives a damn about this mess, considering her quasi-duplicity in letting the Bush Admin. get away with these crimes.

Posted by: vegasgirl1 | April 21, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

This woman shrugged-off, explained-away, and rubber-stamped EVERY illegal, criminal act of the Bush administration as it shredded the basic protections of our Constitution with it's Domestic Eavesdropping Programs, listening in on citizen's private calls. She was also a big promoter of retroactive amnesty for the wireless companies that aided and abetting in behavior that was clearly criminal.
Now she's squawking like a stuck pig because SHE was caught up in the very net that she so easily dismissed.

Posted by: Tomcat3 | April 21, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

I assert that Jane Harman is being disingenuous - the alternative is that she is incompetent to have a high security clearance.

She has been given a "Secure Phone" with which to conduct calls. This secure phone encrypts calls. She knows, or should know, the calls are decrypted in real time by the NSA because the NAS has a backdoor key. If Harman wanted to have secure calls without the NSA listening she should get out to San Francisco this week for the RSA conference to learn more about alternatives.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse


You obviously need to buy a clue. This happened in 2005 and 2006. Let's see...who was the VP and President then?

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Commendations to Tomcast3, JBG724 for pointing out Harman's complicity with the telecom immunity act.

I'd like to add her bootlicking performances with Michael Hayden as well.

To be sure, Harman represents her constituents - the tier 1 government contractors - but she doesn't represent the American people.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

While she's at it, she might want to undo the harm she did in getting the I-spy on Americans Act made permanent, now that she's a victim of it.

Posted by: SarahBB | April 21, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

I just heard her on NPR interviewed by Robert Siegel. Don't trust her any further than I can throw her.

Love her outrage over wiretapping. Guess what is good for the goose ain't so good for the gander.

Posted by: knutton | April 21, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

OK left-wing dingbat Bush haters, the government was not wiretapping Jane Harmon. They were wiretapping suspected Israeli intelligence agents inside the U.S. Low and behold, Traitor/criminal Jane Harmon phone in to have a conversation about selling her influence. This is kinda like what happened to Elliott Spitzer (another corrupt Democrat). The NSA can't help it if their attempts to track down those who would do us harm also snag a whole bunch of traitorous Democrats.

Posted by: get_it_right | April 21, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

I listened to Rep. Harmon's interview on NPR today. Her protestations sound just like Rod Blagojevich. Harmon: "I've asked Attorney General Holder to .. release any tapes."" Translation: "My lawyer wants to know exactly what I'm up against." Harmon: "As you know, it is entirely appropriate to converse with advocacy organizations and constituent groups" Translation: "So, I'm going to bat for some fellow Israeli spies who also happen to be US citizens. You got a problem with that?" Harmon: "I have no clear memory of any such conversation." Translation: I'm not going to perjure myself before the trial".

Posted by: BillBlue | April 21, 2009 9:29 PM | Report abuse

All those democrats who were blessedly silent as Cheney and his minions tried to create a police state are surprised that they were watched too? That is the way police states work. Get used to it if you are to cowardly to fight it.

Posted by: wege1 | April 21, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

someone got caught with their hand in the cookie jar

Posted by: obblehit | April 21, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

When you deal with crappola, you're liable to smell like it. This is just another crooked politician!

Posted by: GordonShumway | April 21, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Well JANE,

If all of you Profiles In Courage had stood up to Bush and his enablers and actually read the Patriot Act provisions you were passing, maybe, just maybe, you, me and the rest of the world wouldn't be in the shape we're all in.

. . . nope, ya didn't though - you were too afraid you'd be accused of not doing anything "if they hit us again'.

So you sold our birthright for your Congressional seat.

How's your seat now?

Posted by: smokinmike | April 21, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Finally we have a president and secretary of state that will put israel in it's place.

Posted by: georgejones5 | April 21, 2009 10:24 PM | Report abuse

People (that includes you, Harman), let's remember just because it's wiretapping doesn't mean it is illegal. This has nothing to do with Bush's "illegal wiretapping-gate." Sounds like she got snared in an ongoing investigation. I find it HILARIOUS that she is demanding full release of all investigative records. Didn't she learn anything on the Intel Committee? That ain't gonna happen for nobody, no how! Feign outrage but quickly, quickly try to cobble together your defense.

Posted by: levelhead1 | April 21, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Also, this just in: the FBI does not have to tell you that you're under investigation, no matter how big your head is and how worried you are that you are.....

Posted by: levelhead1 | April 21, 2009 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Actually, she was blackmailed into helping to kill the illegal wiretap story in the NY Times right before the election thus helping Bush win.

Posted by: rodneythecat | April 21, 2009 11:17 PM | Report abuse

How in the name of heavens did Rep. Harman, an AIPAC quisling, ever get a seat on the House Intelligence Committee? Frankly, she shouldn't even be trusted with a seat on the Post Office Committee!

Posted by: dgward44 | April 21, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Israel is playing us all for chumps. We give them some 4 billion dollars a year in aid. They funnel just a couple of hundred million to AIPAC and through that they are able to buy off the prostitutes we have in the House and Senate. In geo-political schemes Israel is masterfully pimping us. Until we get rid off this payola system and make it illegal, many Congresspersons and Senators will be all too willing to sell our country's secrets to Israel as far as they are guaranteed re-election. Wake up my fellow Americans!!

Posted by: discipulus04 | April 22, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Nobody should be surprised if details in regard to her activity or that of the two
AIPAC members become known should lead to
information revealing close to treasonous actions. It would not be the first time an American citizen of Jewish descent put Israel's interest above that of the US, nor the first time Jews made it their goal to place themselves in positions in the US government where they would have access to otherwise secret information that would be
valuable to the Israelis.

Posted by: jiacone2 | April 22, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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