The Congressional Quarterly today revealed that Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Los Angeles) was overheard on a court-approved NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli spy that she would lobby to reduced espionage related charges against two associates of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman were dismissed from AIPAC following an FBI raid on that organization’s offices. They were charged with giving classified Pentagon documents to Israeli officials. Their case is scheduled to be heard later this year.
Bush Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, according to the article, intervened to halt an FBI probe of the Congresswoman that resulted from the wiretap. The CQ article cites three top former national security officials, saying that Gonzales wanted Harman shielded so that she could be called upon to defend the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which administration officials knew was about to be exposed by the New York Times. (A concerted campaign by administration officials claiming that national security would be damaged managed to delay publication until after the 2004 elections.)
Congresswoman Harman delivered the goods for the Bush administration, issuing as statement critical of the Times disclosure saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”
Harman, who has longtime involvement with intelligence issues, was a member of the “gang of eight”-Congressional leaders who were regularly briefed about intelligence policy during Bush administration. In exchange for her assistance, the purported agent offered assistance in lobbying then-House minority leader Nancy Pelosi to appoint Harman as chair of the intelligence committee following the 2006 elections, which Democrats were then favored to win.
Congresswoman Harman failed to win the intelligence committee chair position, and is currently serving as chair on a House Homeland Security subcommittee. Many Democrats were openly critical of her “blue dog” stances in support of Bush administration policies during the last eight years.