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Jane Harman's Wiretapped Conversations

POSTED: 05:30 PM ET, 04/21/2009 by The Editors

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) rushes out of her office in the Rayburn Building. (Katherine Frey / The Washington Post)

Rep. Jane Harman is asking the Justice Department to release its transcripts of wiretapped telephone conversations she reportedly had with a suspected Israeli agent in 2005 or 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It had been reported several years ago that federal investigators looked into the California Democrat's discussions with the suspected Israeli agent. But yesterday, Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein published significant new details, including the allegation that the conversations secretly captured by NSA wiretaps were "directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington."

Stein's account, and follow-up articles today, raised questions about the conversations' links to at least two ongoing Washington scandals: the espionage case against two officials of the main Israel lobbying group and the NSA's secret domestic surveillance wiretap program.

CQ's sources, and sources cited today in the New York Times, say that Harman was caught on the wiretap telling the suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby Bush administration officials to reduce the charges against the two members of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) accused of spying. In exchange, the sources said, the suspected agent promised to help her get appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

CQ said that, according to its sources, Harman told the caller she would "waddle in" to the espionage case "if you think it would make a difference." She also said, "This conversation doesn't exist."

The Times today quoted officials "familiar with the transcripts" as saying they know of no evidence that the congresswoman ever intervened.

Harman told CQ in a statement, "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."

And today, Harman wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder expressing outrage that she had been wiretapped.

"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," Harman wrote. "It is my intention to make this material available to the public."

In an interview today with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, Harman defended her friendship with AIPAC.

"I didn't need to cut some deal with AIPAC for any reason. I talk to them, I talk to lots of advocacy groups and constituency groups all the time, about a range of issues," Harman said, adding that "it was certainly no secret in 2005 and 2006 that I hoped to be named chair of the House Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections."

More after the jump:

Time magazine's Timothy Burger first reported in 2006 that the FBI and Justice Department were investigating whether Harman was working with AIPAC in a scheme to get her reappointed as the top Democrat on the intelligence committee.

Among the questions the federal investigators were exploring, according to Time, was whether Harman promised to lobby Justice or the White House to get the espionage charges reduced for Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two AIPAC staffers charged with passing classified information to the Israeli government.

(Their trial is to begin this summer. They allegedly worked with a former Defense Intelligence Agency official, Lawrence Franklin, who was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for improper handling and disclosure of classified information.)

There were later reports that the FBI had dropped the Harman investigation for lack of evidence. But CQ, citing three former national security officials, reported this week that then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales halted the investigation because he wanted Harman to defend the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program. The program was about to be made public by the New York Times.

The Times also reported today that, according to its sources, Harman's caller had promised Harman that in exchange for her help with the espionage case, California billionaire Haim Saban would threaten to withhold campaign contributions to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.),, who was to become Speaker of the House, if she didn't pick Harman as intelligence chairman.

By The Editors |  April 21, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
Previous: Pay Limits Rebuffed?; TARP 'Inherently Vulnerable'; Obama Vows Support for CIA | Next: Report Details Interrogation Plans; U.S. May Drop Espionage Charges; Quadrangle Caught in Pension Probe


Please email us to report offensive comments.

Harman is truly a traitor. She is too cozy with AIPAC.

Posted by: obamaniac | April 21, 2009 6:18 PM

Jane Harman is toast. She'll be losing her seat for sure. Guess she can just go back to her old law firm. No biggie.

Posted by: MadAsHell3 | April 21, 2009 6:35 PM

Wow, I had no idea that Israeli spies had been convicted of espionage against the US. If it were Iranian spies, Tehran would be bombed to oblivion by now. This shows the Pro-Israel bias in the US media and the US government. The fact that Harman was involved in this way with Israel and AIPAC shows that both parties are identical in their unabashed support for Israel, no matter how criminal its behavior.

I just hope that all democrats can come to terms with how awful and unjust this wiretapping is.

Posted by: spartan2600 | April 21, 2009 7:33 PM

So, was the Bush Regime wire tapping Americans on American soil in this case (Harman, Rosen, and Weissman)? Ooopsie. Didn't George Bush say he was only wiretapping the terrorists who talked to an American or terrorist-to-terrorist communication? Spit.

Posted by: KayInMaine | April 21, 2009 8:45 PM

she should be arrested for corruption and perhaps consorting with agents of a foreign power. throw her in prison as an example to the rest of the crooks...

Posted by: karadayis | April 21, 2009 9:05 PM

israel is no friend of the usa

Posted by: thewashingtonpost1 | April 21, 2009 9:33 PM

Spartan2600: It's already been revealed to the world that the Bush administration DID wiretap Americans talking to other Americans right here on U.S. soil. The only remaining questions are: "to what extent" and "is anything going to be done about it legally"?

Personally, I think lobbyists should be banned, they can write one to one letters to their representatives, just like the rest of us have to do and they can join the masses of people being taxed without representation.

By all means, release the transcripts of Harman, all AIPAC officials, open up the Sibel Edmonds case and allow her to publicly testify... and let's see what role Dennis Hastert played in conjunction with the ATC, as well.

There's plenty of stink to go around in DC.

Posted by: CitizenPain | April 21, 2009 9:35 PM

This article claims the following: "Harman was caught on the wiretap telling the suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby Bush administration officials to reduce the charges against the two members of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) accused of spying. In exchange, the sources said, the suspected agent promised to help her get appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee."

This article also reports that "CQ said that, according to its sources, Harman told the caller she would "waddle in" to the espionage case "if you think it would make a difference." She also said, "This conversation doesn't exist."

If these facts be true -- even if Rep. Harman never in fact carried out her promise to lobby the Bush administration (as she claims) -- Harman has problems. The fact that she failed to carry out her promised inappropriate intervention simply makes her a liar as well as an elected official who made promises to use her office and power inappropriately and illegally to obtain a quid pro quo. Sounds like a crime to me (I'm a criminal lawyer and a Democrat).

Posted by: law1 | April 21, 2009 10:11 PM

When will the truly loyal Americans wake up and realize that Israel's bribing of our officials is being done with the very same billions of tax dollars our elected officials give to the Israeli regime each year.

The latest treasonous actions by Harman further demonstrates the level if AIPAC infiltration into the affairs of our government. If not closed down completely, AIPAC and other Israeli lobbies (and those of any country) should be forced to register as a foreign lobby as it is clearly nothing but an arm of Israeli intelligence that is used to bribe and subvert our elected officials.

While Harman is clearly a traitor to our country, when you find one rat you can bet that there are are many more traitorous Senatorial and Congressional rats that still need to be caught.

Time to call in an exterminator.

Posted by: JDGillis | April 21, 2009 11:33 PM

Congress is full of Jane Harmans.

Here is another interesting story:

"The Obama Administration will put forth new peace initiatives only if Israel wants it to, said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman in his first comprehensive interview on foreign policy since taking office.

"Believe me, America accepts all our decisions," Lieberman told the Russian daily Moskovskiy Komosolets. "

Israel gets away with appointing people like Avigor because WE have LOTS OF HARMANS IN CONGRESS!

Posted by: dogsbestfriend | April 22, 2009 2:32 AM

Clearly there is the smell of treason with Harman and the entire AIPAC cabal.Let's understand what is being alleged here- a Pentagon employee wanted a sweet spot at the NSA, he concluded to get that job AIPAC had the power and influence to help him. He entered into a quid pro quo- AIPAC would get him the job in exchange for his providing AIPAC with classified intelligence material. Now under most circumstances (unless of course it involves Israel) this would be called espionage and treason. Now Harman,who is nothing but an agent for AIPAC, promises to intervene in the criminal investigation to get the two alleged AIPAC spies off the hook, she is also offered a quid pro quo- in exchange for her intervention she gets the House intelligence chairmanship. If any of this is true, Harman should resign and be fully prosecuted for obstruction of justice at the very least. AIPAC is no friend of the United States- it is a foreign agent that solely represents its interests. Harman has possibly betrayed her loyalty to the United States- that is the real scandal here.

Posted by: andrewburroughs | April 22, 2009 6:47 AM

If Ms. Harman is guilty shame an her but doesn't this all sound a little Nixon like, using branches of the goverment to spy on your political opponents?

That's the real story here!

The more things change the more they stay the same.

Posted by: Newcomer3 | April 22, 2009 7:30 AM

Newcomer, how is this case an example of using "branches of government to spy on your political opponents"? Remember, Harman wasn't exactly an opponent of the Bush Administration and this case, by all accounts, began during the Bush admin. The article itself points out (alleges) that Gonzalez actually tried to put the brakes on the investigation because they needed Harman's support during the imminent firestorm about the wiretapping scandal. That's the scandal, along with the substantive underlying allegations about influence-peddling and the undue influence exerted by the pro-Israel lobby in DC. I am not shocked by "spying," I am only shocked that it takes this long to bring a case like this to fruition, and now prosecutors are considering dropping it because (I believe) their efforts to fully investigate have been hampered. Shame all around.

Posted by: levelhead1 | April 22, 2009 8:59 AM

This Justice Department must go after criminals and prosecute crimes that are committed, whether that is a Congressional representative, a former Attorney General, former White House lawyers, or even our highest elected officials. They were sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution and they failed. Let them pay the price.

Posted by: ronjeske | April 22, 2009 9:56 AM

The traitor should be prosecuted! She can scream and wiggle all she likes but she is a traitor! I doubt if she has the ability to she should be removed!
As for the former A.G. he desreves our scorn for placing politics above national security!

To many in Washington think they are above the law,either through cozy lobby realtionships, political position, failure to pay taxes, etc. No wonder there are more of us everyday who view the Tea Party as just the first step of cleaning up a corrupt political class in DC. When you have as an example the Speaker of The House deriding the million people who protested the government free spending ways as redneck... well it is time they go seek another career.

Posted by: NeoConVeteran | April 22, 2009 10:13 AM

"Since when does supporting Israel been traitorous?"

Perhaps once they started spying on us. If Harman is involved as implied, outrage is justified. Why isn't there also outrage at AIPAC? We give billions in aid to Israel & their response is to spy on us? We need to cut them off.

Posted by: bsimon1 | April 22, 2009 10:28 AM

Sorry Libs, this was not part of the warrantless wiretapping, this was an FBI investigation into espionage.

Posted by: tecumsah1 | April 22, 2009 10:37 AM

The lady is outraged because the Justice Department tapped her telephone. Of course no such thing was done. They tapped the telephone of a suspected traitor, presumably with a Court warrant. It's her tough luck to be talking to a suspected traitor whose telephone is tapped.
Let's not muddy the water, lady!
Concerning AIPAC, these people better be careful. More of these things and people will question the loyalty of American Jews. Much anti-Semitic sentiments in the past were fed by uncertainty about Jewish loyalties.

Posted by: schumann-bonn | April 22, 2009 10:54 AM

Rep. Harman has asked that all relevant information be released to the public -- that can happen if there is no prosecution of the Israeli spies. Otherwise she will have to wait like everyone else.

Her ability to defend herself will be severely limited until ALL of that information is released.

If she was the one being wiretapped, she should be outraged....obviously the executive branch of government was functioning in a highly suspect if not illegal manner.

Since this is coming out now, what is going on in the House of Representatives that would make Speaker Pelosi want to discredit Rep. Harman, whom she obviously dislikes anyway?

Isn't it interesting what the actions and the questions are and will be? By the way, our system still allows a person to be innocent until proven guilty, shouldn't we let all the parties involved be allowed to have that assumption made by them, except those who are leaking the information, or commmitting on the leaks, who are obviously trying to spin the information to their advantage?

Spin: It has nothing to do with TRUTH. May truth PREVAIL!!!!!!

Posted by: Tawodi | April 22, 2009 11:08 AM

if you read the article, Harmon wasn't being wiretapped the Israeli spies were. She was just caught on tape talking to them. There is a big difference. If not mistaken, there was also a subpoena.

Posted by: woodard3 | April 22, 2009 11:39 AM

I say open up the flood gates and put ALL the cards on the table.
As more facts come out the focus becomes clearer.
Jane Harman is obviously an opportunist....too bad she isn't more intelligent and patriotic.
I think any GOOD citizen, when confronted with this type of activity, that wasn't in it to gain for themselves, would have used this situation to create a "sting" operation.
Its true... there is an Iraeli organization that spies on the this, and other countries, and uses that information for their own gain, and does so with our knowledge. It's called Amdoc
It is well known that no one can place a phone call without it ending up in the hands of this company.
It has been used to collapse investigations, and for profit.
Take 911 for may have been some religious fanatics trying to make a point that did the deed but the more info that comes out the more plain it is.
There was a lot of "chatter" going on at least a year before this crime was plenty of time for eavesdroppers to capitolize on it. Follow the money.
It was Israeli "artists" (with backgrounds in the military and demolition) that were in the bulidings for months, a building that conveniently fell into the hands of a Israeli billionaire (who made billions- double indemnity) just for openers. I stand behind Jane Harman- YES, RELEASE ALL THE WIRETAPS. It looks like this, just like so many other sneak tactics, has backfired.

Posted by: kathymm1 | April 22, 2009 12:23 PM

If the woman had truly said all that is being alleged she did in the way and manner written in this story, I fail to see how the release of the full tapes (unredacted) would be to her benefit, yet that is what she is asking for. I am somewhat concerned about the reason she was wiretapped to begin with. What had she done to warrant a wiretap warrant exactly? What evidence did they have against her before starting the wiretap? What did they need in the Bush administration? There seem to be things being alleged, but if true, why has no action been taken against her? I don't have any horses in this particular race (don't live there, can't vote for/against her), other than she being a member of our united governing body, but I'm just wondering.

Posted by: alaskan2 | April 22, 2009 12:45 PM

To be levelheaded
I was under the impression that the Justice Department and the NSA were part of the government.
Yes in this case she was an on the same page with the administration, but as a California Democratic, well I'm sure she wasn't on the White House weekend pass list.
If you would like to take a walk down memory lane. Jane Harman was at the forefront of getting to the bottom of who outed CIA agent Valerie Plame. Another "traitor/spy" incident and accused Karl Rove of knowledge in the outing of Ms. Plame. Of course Scooter Libby took the hit for the team.
Yea, Her and the GOP leadership are good buddy's or maybe Alberto was just using her in this case because they had a common interest.
I'm sure this whole situation is just one big horrible coincidence.
SPY VS SPY goes to D.C.
It's all a matter of perspective.

Posted by: Newcomer3 | April 22, 2009 12:45 PM

Newcomer3, your point is either lost on me or nonexistent. I was simply pointing out that this was not a case of the "government" targeting a "political adversary" by tapping Jane Harman's phone, as many people seem to think. This was Jane Harman getting caught talking to someone whom the government believes was acting as an agent of a foreign power on a legal, court authorized wiretap. Wiretap is not synonymous with illegal activity, and wiretaps don't just get the target. They get everyone else who is talking to the target. Sorry, Jane, no matter who you are, the wiretap doesn't lie.

Posted by: levelhead1 | April 22, 2009 1:25 PM

CitizenPain, Sir, if you are indeed a criminal defense lawyer as you claim, might I suggest a refresher course on what constitutes a crime? Simply talking about committing a crime is not a crime. I can sit all day and talk about robbing a bank, but until I take an affirmative action to robbing the bank all I am guilty of is talking stupid. That doesn't make what happened right, it just makes it not a criminal act.

Posted by: jifler2004 | April 22, 2009 1:25 PM

It seems ironic that this case is being brought so long after the fact, that it based on conversation and not action and that it is so similar to the Plame case with the actors parts being reversed to be anything but orchestrated.

You can lead a horse to water....

Posted by: Newcomer3 | April 22, 2009 2:01 PM

I am pro Israeli and am pro American. I dont know if in fact the AIPAC people did spy for Israel. That is for a Jury to decide in a trial. However, that a representative of our government should be involved in deals is a disgrace and should be removed from office. Israel is an ally but should not be treated with any special care, if they have violated American intelligence. I am especially disturbed that she did this in order to lobby for a position as Chair of a congressional committee. Money corrupts. Power corrupts.

Posted by: Hachem | April 22, 2009 2:07 PM

Can we really believe anything that comes out of the Buch administration Justice Department? I say; release the evidence against Harmon and let's see what they've got!

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | April 22, 2009 2:44 PM

Who would have known? I always thought it was so weird that she, Jane Harman, was chair of the Intelligence Committee. I would see her on Tv and think, 'why would they choose someone like that?' Gee, maybe now I know.

Posted by: help2 | April 22, 2009 3:09 PM

Obama voted to continue warantless wiretapping on Americans.

This is in violation of our constitution and must stop.

Posted by: myopinion3 | April 22, 2009 3:50 PM

Simple and obvious solution?

Simply have the FBI dust off the files that Gonzales had put an embargo on, and do the investigation now that they were on the eve of doing back then.

If Harman is, as she wants us to believe, "totally innocent", she should welcome a vigorous resumption of the FBI scrutiny?

Perhaps, rather than her current tactic of "Reveal all wiretaps", Harman herself should call on the FBI to resume its blocked investigation of her? She should, that is, if she in fact "has nothing to hide".

Posted by: Kels1 | April 22, 2009 5:56 PM

From the article:
conversations secretly captured by NSA wiretaps were "directed at alleged Israel covert action operations in Washington."

So what is it, get it straight, was it a NSA or FBI wiretap.

Also from the article:
the espionage case against two officials of the main Israel lobbying group and the NSA's secret domestic surveillance wiretap program.

Nowhere in the article:
Legal FBI wiretap

My guess is NSA and if they were doin it, it was illegal

Posted by: jifler2004 | April 22, 2009 7:47 PM

AIPAC is a cancer within our nation, instead of promoting positive principles, they keep shooting themselves in the foot with devious and anti-USA machinations.Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey's " lover " Golan Cipel was placed by (hmmmm... AIPAC?) - a glorified male prostitute who ran the " Homeland Security" Dept for the gullible Guv. This spy had zero experience in this field yet he was oh so conveniently "maneuvered" into this high profile position by this same group who manipulated Jane Harmon. These traitors are small fish compared to the real power behind the throne such as Haim Saban and others of his ilk who try to choke-hold and manipulate USA foreign and domestic (911???) events. What a volatile mix- money and intensely sophisticated techniques to subvert a once free nation such as ours once was. Well " what goes around, comes around " and the truth shall set us free- let's all hope our country's good citizens will wake up and no longer let self-interest groups hijack our great nation.

Posted by: aloha_breeze | April 22, 2009 8:36 PM

It's only 'hear say' so far. I'm not really sure about this, but I may have seen one of the 911 terrorists a few weeks before..... somewhere near a lake in Maine.... and possibly days later at a Portland post office. So she sees a lot of different kinds of people... so what?

Posted by: deepthroat21 | April 23, 2009 12:33 AM

Jane Harmon is corrupt has been corrupt and will always be corrupt.

I worked at JBL in Northridge California, in the 90's Sidney Harmon went around to all the managers at JBL and gave them $20K bonuses to turn around to give Bill Clinton $10K towards his re-election bid. He gave Bill over a Million dollars to skirt the election laws of the time.

I would not participate and was subsequently fired, even as my father lay dying of cancer, Sidney and Jane Harmon are the high class scum of this Earth and I am thankful she was exposed for the phony she is.

I would also like to know why all the JBL manufacturing operations have been moved to Mexico? With Jane being a Congress women of the US, her husband is sending good US jobs to Mexico?

Look deeper into this pair and you will find they they are dirtier then you can ever imagine.

Posted by: harleynut | April 23, 2009 10:46 AM

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