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Congressional Quarterly's Jeff Stein writes in his SpyTalk column that "Rep. Jane Harman, the California Democrat with a longtime involvement in intelligence issues, was overheard on [a court-ordered] 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." And it gets better. Stein reports that a Justice Department probe was dropped after then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales intervened, because he "wanted Harman to be able to help defend the administration's warrantless wiretapping program."

Bob Egelko writes in the San Francisco Chronicle: "A San Francisco federal judge rejected on Friday the Obama administration's attempt to derail a challenge to former President George W. Bush's electronic surveillance program by withholding a critical wiretap document."

Carl Hulse writes in the New York Times: "President Obama is running into stiff Congressional resistance to his plans to raise money for his ambitious agenda, and the resulting hole in the budget is threatening a major health care overhaul and other policy initiatives. The administration’s central revenue proposal — limiting the value of affluent Americans’ itemized deductions, including the one for charitable giving — fell flat in Congress, leaving the White House, at least for now, without $318 billion that it wants to set aside to help cover uninsured Americans. At the same time, lawmakers of both parties have warned against moving too quickly on a plan to auction carbon emission permits to produce more than $600 billion."

Michael A. Fletcher writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama plans to convene his Cabinet for the first time today, and he will order its members to identify a combined $100 million in budget cuts over the next 90 days, according to a senior administration official. Although the budget cuts would amount to a minuscule portion of federal spending, they are intended to signal the president's determination to cut spending and reform government, the official said."

Peter Wallsten and Faye Fiore write in the Los Angeles that the media's "glimpses into the Obama household are far from spontaneous. Instead, they are part of a careful strategy that has helped bolster the new president's popularity and political clout -- even as he promotes some economic policies, such as bailouts for banks and automakers, that lack broad appeal."

Ashley Parker writes in the New York Times about Mike Kelleher, the director of the White House Office of Correspondence. "He chooses 10 letters, which are slipped into a purple folder and put in the daily briefing book that is delivered to President Obama at the White House residence... 'We pick messages that are compelling, things people say that, when you read it, you get a chill,' said Mr. Kelleher, 47. 'I send him letters that are uncomfortable messages.'"

Ana Marie Cox writes in a Washington Post opinion piece that the White House beat should no longer be considered prestigious.

Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald critiques Politico reporter Mike Allen's use of anonymous sources.

John Cook blogs for Gawker that Obama is now doomed. Why? Because ABC News political pundit Mark Halperin now thinks Obama is "dominating." Cook writes that "as David Plouffe, Obama's campaign manager who is known to concern himself with real things in the actual world as opposed to the contours of Mark Halperin's ego, used to say on the trail: 'If Politico and Halperin say we're winning, we're losing.'"

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 20, 2009; 12:42 PM ET
 
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Comments

While these analyses are interesting, they miss the point. Leaks of highly classified NSA wiretaps don't just happen. Someone has to have a purpose, and have confidence that they will not become the subject of prosecution for leaking the material. While the leak may have some relationship to the upcoming trial, I think it is more likely that the leak is an attempt to set supporters of Israel back on their heels in light of a growing U.S.-Israel dispute over Israel's alleged plans to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Israel denies have imminent plans to attack, although one would not expect such acknowledgement anyway.

Supporters of Israel, particularly Jewish supporters such as Harman, always are at risk of a charge of dual loyalty. Playing the dual loyalty card has taken place almost as long as Israel has existed, but has come back in vogue in recent years. It is interesting that the source of the story refers to the person as a "suspected" agent of Israel, which means there likely is no hard evidence that the person was actually acting on behalf of the government of Israel, as opposed to merely being a supporter of Israel.

There is a legitimate debate over whether the U.S. should support, or at least not stop, an Israeli attack on Iran. Opposition to an attack is not itself playing the dual-loyalty card, or even anti-Israel. U.S. policy makers should do what they feel is in the U.S.'s best interest. But silencing debate through use of the dual-loyalty card reflects that some feel they cannot win that debate on the merits.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | April 20, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

Israel cannot attack Iran without US help. They need overfly permission from the US. All members of Congress support Israel. The Republicans like anybody who bombs Arabs, and they are eager for the Jews to occupy the Holy Land so that Jesus will return. The Democrats just support Israel for the money and the votes. I would say that there is no moral high ground anywhere around support for Israel.

Posted by: dickdata | April 20, 2009 4:51 PM | Report abuse

I guess we now see why Speaker Pelosi refused to name Jane Harman as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Good thing, too. The last person we need as Intelligence Committee chair is an agent of Israel.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | April 20, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

lowercaselarry,

Well put.

It also explains why Alberto Gonzales was so cooperative.

I have REPEATEDLY warned our congressional reps and governors that the SECURE PHONES provided by the government are decrypted in real time by the NSA because the NSA has a encryption key.

There are less expensive and more secure alternate technologies with NO BACK DOOR but for some strange reason (see Jane Harman's example) the NSA and Bush folks didn't want to buy that better and cheaper technology. Another reason is that General Dynamic, the supplier of the existing secure (sic) phones were reliable Texas Bush donors.

Posted by: boscobobb | April 21, 2009 3:15 AM | Report abuse

So a Jewish congresswoman who had enough support from the powers behind the scenes to get a position on the Intelligence Committee, allegedly makes a deal with a suspected Israeli agent, i.e., anyone on the AIPAC staff and their friends in the congress, their staffs and congressional committee staffs, to interfere with the prosecution of two alleged Israeli spies in return for additional help from another alleged spy and his co-conspirators to get Harmon the chairmanship of the intel committee where she would be an even more invaluable asset to the Israel.

Some people are "Shocked!!!" that such a thing could occur. Only the innocent and uninformed should be shocked. It is well known but never discussed in the msm that Israel has veto power over who gets the job in many government positions, including Secretary of Defense, National Security Advisor, and some intelligence positions (see Admiral Bobby Ray Inman, Charles Freeman, etc.) It is also well know but not discussed that AIPAC essentially acts as an employment agency for host of upper and lower level positions in the Congress and Departments including, it seems, chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee.

It is also well know that some people in these positions act as agents of Israel but are never prosecuted (See Richard Perle and inevitable non-prosecution of Rosen, et.al.)

It is also know that Israel operates the largest or second largest spying operation against the U.S. but taking action against the spies can be, as related by some former FBI agents, career killers.

The power of a certain politically powerful group is well known in the media, the government, and parasites lobbying and living off the government but the subject can't be discussed or debated.

Orwellian.

Posted by: Lazarus40 | April 21, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

At last, another answer to a question I have had since Harmon "changed" her mind on the gonzo-nsa wiretapping. Out here in the "netherlands" we have long suspected the last regime was using wiretapping to "get changes" needed to carry out some of the more "questionable" practises used in the name of "keeping us safe". If they can get info on sen & rep. they can use it against them and get the correct results.

Posted by: kml | April 21, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Normally I'd find myself disagreeing with SSPugilist, but here I think SSP is raising the right issues. Why are the reports so off-hand about both the wire-tapping of a member of Congress and the presumed disclosure of that classified information to the public? And, what is Harman up to now?

Posted by: j2hess | April 21, 2009 6:18 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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