Posts Tagged ‘Jane Harman’
Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Rep. Jane Harman released a letter today from the Justice Department stating she is not a target of any criminal inquiry, the New York Times reported. The California Democrat and former House Intelligence Committee member reportedly had been overheard on a 2005 government wiretap offering to help two pro-Israel lobbyists who’d been charged with espionage. CQ’s Jeff Stein broke that story.

Boy, that whole AIPAC spy thing really did fall apart. In May, the government dropped the charges against former American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman. A court had ordered the government to prove the lobbyists had intended to harm U.S. interests when they disclosed Pentagon information about Iraq to the media and an Israeli diplomat. According to news reports, Harman had been caught on the wiretap telling an unidentified agent of Israel that she would help the two AIPAC lobbyists in exchange for political fundraising asssistance.

Harman denied wrongdoing, asked why the hell the government was intercepting a member of Congress’s phone calls, and demanded the government release a transcript of the wiretasps. I don’t think those transcripts were ever released.

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has become an outspoken advocate of the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists since he has left office, but that is old hat for the former veep who led four of the infamous lawmaker briefings on the techniques, The Washington Post reported today.

He was not listed in the CIA chart that lists the briefings, but sources told The Post he oversaw meetings in 2005 with Sens. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), then-Sens. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and a particularly contentious one with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), according to The Post. At the time, McCain was pushing for an amendment that would have stopped interrogation methods like waterboarding.

The Post said:

“An official who witnessed one of Cheney’s briefing sessions with lawmakers said the vice president’s presence appeared calculated to give additional heft to the CIA’s case for maintaining the program. Cheney left it to the professional briefers to outline the interrogation practices, while he mounted an impassioned defense of the program.”

We previously reported that Rockefeller, Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have disputed the accuracy of the CIA chart on the briefings. Pelosi has gone as far as saying that she was misled by the CIA, while Rockefeller and Graham have said they weren’t briefed on the full extent of the harsh interrogation methods.

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) refused to make any further comments on the ongoing interrogation briefings saga today at her weekly press conference.

Pelosi said she continued to stand behind her comments last week when she said she was misled by the CIA on the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists.

“I don’t have anything more to say,” Pelosi said.

The speaker said at a heated press conference last week that CIA briefers in September 2002 did not inform her that Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002. She said adviser Michael Sheehy was at a February 2003 briefing where he learned about the actual use of waterboarding on detainees. Pelosi also divulged at the press conference last week that she was informed of the February 2003 letter sent from Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) to the CIA general counsel that questioned the interrogation methods.

Since her comments last week, CIA Director Leon Panetta rejected Pelosi’s accusation, and House Republicans pushed Pelosi to prove or retract her claims. The House also tried to pass a resolution yesterday that would have established a bipartisan panel to investigate Pelosi’s claims.

“What we are doing is staying on our course and not be distracted from it,” Pelosi said.

In a Gallup poll released yesterday, more Americans disapproved than approved of Pelosi’s handling of the interrogation matter.

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) lashed out at the CIA for “misleading” her about the harsh interrogation methods used against suspected terrorists, admitting for the first time that she knew about the waterboarding of detainees several years ago, The Washington Post reported this afternoon.

Pelosi said she wants the CIA to release detailed reports on her September 2002 briefing, where she continued to maintain that she was not informed about the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah 83 times in August 2002, The Post reported. She said adviser Michael Sheehy was at a February 2003 briefing where he learned about the actual use of waterboarding on detainees, The Post said.

“At every step of the way the administration was misleading the Congress,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly press conference.

She also said she was informed of the February 2003 letter sent from Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) to the CIA general counsel that questioned the interrogation methods, The Post reported.

“That is the proper person to send the letter,” Pelosi said at the press conference. “My job (as minority leader) was to change the majority in Congress.”

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was informed in 2003 that waterboarding was used against terrorism suspects but stayed mum out of consideration for proper lawmaking channels, a person with close ties to the California Democrat told Politico in an article published today.

We previously reported that Pelosi said she was only aware of the Bush administration’s authorization of the harsh interrogation methods, and was not informed of the actual use of the techniques. However, Pelosi aide Michael Sheehy and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), then the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, were briefed on the waterboarding used on alleged terrorist Abu Zubaydah, according to a document on the briefings released last week.

Harman wrote a letter to the CIA’s general counsel in 2003 to protest the waterboarding used, according to Politico. Sheehy notified Pelosi of the letter, and she said she supported the letter, but did not sign her name on the letter, the Pelosi insider told Politico.

“She felt that the appropriate response was the letter from Harman, because Jane was the one who was briefed,” said the person told Politico. Pelosi “never got briefed on it personally, and when Harman got a ‘no response’ from the CIA, there was nothing more that could be done.”

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Rep. Jane Harman told an annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that the government should release everything it has about a wiretap that reportedly caught the California Democrat offering to help two former AIPAC lobbyists accused of spying. 

“I want it all out there. I want it in public. I want everyone to understand, including me, what has happened,” Harman told the AIPAC convetion, according to the Washington Post.

Prosecutors on Friday dropped their espionage case against the accused AIPAC lobbyists, acknowledging they likely couldn’t prevail at trial. On the wiretap, Harman reportedly told an unidentified agent of the Israeli government that she’d intervene on behalf of indicted ex-AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman in exchange for help with her bid to be appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee in 2006. But according to CQ, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales squashed an investigation into Harman because he needed her support as the New York Times was about to break its prize-winning big story on warrantless wiretapping.

Harman has denied interceding with any officials on the ex-AIPAC officials’ behalf. She was passed over for the Intel job.

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Another huge, embarrassing failure for the government. The decision today to drop espionage charges against former American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobbyists Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman was an admission by the U.S. that it couldn’t win. Read the government’s motion here.

An appeals court decision had allowed the defense to use classified information at trial, and the U.S. didn’t want to go there. Equally difficult: A lower court had ordered the government to prove the lobbyists had intended to harm U.S. interests when they disclosed Pentagon information about Iraq to the media and an Israeli diplomat.

A trial had been scheduled for June 2 before Judge Judge T.S. Ellis III in the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria. Likely witnesses would have included former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. Read the Washington Post story here, the New York Times story here. Read a Washington Jewish Week profile here of Weissman’s defense attorney Baruch Weiss, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York now with Arent Fox LLP in Washington.

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Laura Rozen at Foreign Policy’s blog has the scoop. The irrepressible Davis, a partner at the Orrick law firm, made his name as media adviser to President Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. The hiring of Davis signals that Harman intends to hit back hard on the story, in which she reportedly was caught on a government wiretap offering  to help two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of spying. It’s been a PR disaster for her.

Rozen also draws our attention to a discrepancy in the reported record about whether it was an NSA or FBI wiretap that picked up Harman’s conversation with the Israeli agent. CQ broke the story, saying it was an NSA wiretap, but The Washington Post reported April 22nd that it was the FBI monitoring the conversation.

Monday, April 27th, 2009

CQ’s Jeff Stein continues to break news on the Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) story.  Then-House Speaker Denny Hastert (R-Ill.) also learned from a “CIA-connected” whistleblower in 2006 that the California Democrat had been caught on a wiretap allegedly offering to help two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of spying against the U.S, Stein reports today.

From his story:

Incensed that Bush officials had ignored their obligation to alert him, Hastert demanded an explanation from then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales …. but was rebuffed ….

The information was so sensitive, [Hastert chief of staff Scott] Palmer said, he and another aide composed and typed Hastert’s letter to Gonzales themselves, rather than dictating it to a secretary.

The two aides then summoned William Moschella, then the Justice Department’s chief of congressional liaison, to pick up the letter in person, “to signify how important we viewed the matter,” Palmer said

Stein previously reported that whistleblowers also contacted then-House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about the matter after Gonzales squashed a national security investigation in order to gain Harman’s support for the soon-to-break warrantless wiretapping story. Now he says Hastert informed Pelosi. Gonzales’s silence snubbed traditional protocol, which says top leaders in Congress are supposed to be informed when a lawmaker is under investigation by the government.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

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.

Stein writes:

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.

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