CQ Spytalk columnist Jeff Stein, who broke the news that an NSA wiretap had picked up Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif) reportedly offering to help two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of spying against the U.S. with their case, reveals more about the internal government battles over the issue.
Intelligence officials, angry that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had blocked an FBI investigation into Democratic Rep. Jane Harman’s interactions with a suspected Israeli agent, tipped off Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, that Harman had been picked up on a court-ordered National Security Agency wiretap targeting the agent.
Their briefing of Pelosi flouted Gonzales’s order to keep the matter quiet, because he wanted Harman’s support for the Bush adminstration’s warrantless wiretapping program, Stein reports. Under long-standing protocol, congressional leaders are informed when a lawmaker is under federal investigation.
Harman is a former ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. She was reportedly caught on the 2005 wiretap offering her assistance to the accused spies in exchange for help from an Israeli diplomat with fundraising in her bid to win the chairmanship of the panel after an expected Democratic election sweep in 2006.
Read Stein’s full story here.