Harman Refuses to Confirm Conversation With Suspected Israeli Spy and Calls Interception of Her Calls an “Abuse of Power”

160px-harman_jane300px-aipac_logoRep. Jane Harman, D-California, has called the alleged interception of her calls with a suspected spy “an abuse of power” and has called for the transcripts of the call to be given to her. As suggested in an earlier blog, she has promised to make the transcript public if given to her. However, she would not confirm the conversation while denying any quid pro quo arrangement to help accused American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobbyists — Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman — in exchange for AIPAC’s help in securing the House Intelligence Committee Chairmanship. While Harman is reported as ending the call with the statement that “This conversation doesn’t exist,” she now denies that the conversation existed as reported in the media.

Notably, the same week that this conversation was revealed, the Administration is reportedly considering dropping charges against the AIPAC lobbyists — precisely what the AIPAC contact reported demanded from Harman in her help to reduce or dismiss charges.

In the conversation with Harman, the alleged Israeli agent promised to have Beverly Hills entertainment magnate Haim Saban, a major political donor, intervene in return for her work on the AIPAC case.

Harman objected to the notion of the government intercepting a member of Congress: “I never had any idea that my government was wiretapping me at all. Three anonymous sources have told various media that this happened. And they are quoting snippets of allegedly taped conversations. So I don’t know what these snippets mean. I don’t know whether these intercepts were legal. And that’s why I asked [Attorney General] Eric Holder to put it all out there in public. . . .Many members of Congress talk to advocacy groups . . . My phone is ringing off the hook from worried members who think it could have happened to them. I think this is an abuse of power.”

There is certainly a constitutional concern raised by such interception. This is precisely the issue in the Jefferson case, which was the focus of earlier testimony that I gave to the House Judiciary Committee. For civil libertarians, however, Harman’s sense of victimization is difficult to square with her prior role and knowledge of the unlawful warrantless surveillance program of the NSA — where citizens were stripped of constitutional protections. These alarmed members who are allegedly called Harman have also shown little concern over the privacy of citizens intercepted in the same unlawful fashion.

The story has highlighted the immense power of AIPAC in Congress. Notably, Harman insisted that “I don’t need to persuade members of the American-Israeli Political Action Committee that I am a friend of theirs. Why would I do some kind of deal? And anyway, let’s have the transcripts out. Let’s see what I said and to whom.”

For the full story, click here.H

25 thoughts on “Harman Refuses to Confirm Conversation With Suspected Israeli Spy and Calls Interception of Her Calls an “Abuse of Power””

  1. There is a delicious irony to this happening to Harman and perhaps it may change her point of view, but I doubt it. She has been a regressive force in congress for a good number of years.

  2. Just the latest on this story:
    Pelosi Now Remembers Harman Wiretap,from the New York Times.

  3. lol


    Surely you reference the original George Segal laugh riot and not the Jim Carrey misfire.

  4. Dredd:

    “Oh, now she gets the 4th Amendment … when it applies to her.

    It is all about Jane.”


    I like to call it “Fun with Dick and Jane — and Alberto.”

  5. What’s ironic about this is the fact that the wiretap that captured Harman’s conversation was a FISA approved wiretap issued for monitoring Israeli covert action surrounding the Franklin/Rosen/Weissman affair. It was not “warrantless” surveillance:

    “The Justice Department attorneys were prepared to pursue a case against Harman, which would include electronic surveillance approved by the so-called FISA Court, the secret panel established by the 1979 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to hear government wiretap requests.”

    source at — http://awurl.com/bxmCc1CYm

    Gonzales killed the inquiry into Harman due to her supporting the warrentless position of the Bush administration.

    This was actually reported in 2006 by Time.: http://awurl.com/yL2riUuSK

    It’s nice to see the corruption and poison of the Bush years being exposed (again!) in a more favorable light that might actually lead to legal action.

  6. Jill,

    As with the Cheney story yesterday, it seems like corrupt government officials have a newfound interest in transparency. Let’s hope all the dirty laundry comes out.

  7. Anon,

    I think the ACLU website has a place for people to write in their stories. I would also go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation for information on how really, just about everyone is being monitored. Blanket monitoring is very bad law enforcement and terrible public policy (as Ms. Harmon seems to have miraculously discovered)!


    Did anyone hear that the New director of Freddie Mac apparently died of a suicide?


    I wonder if the same fate awaited Kenneth Lay. Now he died of a heart attack. But a newspaper a read in California was talking about how one could die from injecting oxygen in a vain and it would appear like a heart attack. This was one week before Lay died.

    I wonder who was going to be exposed? And who helped David Kellerman commit suicide.

  9. Jill –

    I “second” your response. Thanks for stating it so well. (My own situation could be described as “kafkaesque” and I know I’m not alone.) I suspect, hope and pray that many of the abuses of the last eight (or more) years will be exposed, hopefully sooner rather than later.

    And you’re right: “We should be able to see those files.”

  10. It’s an “abuse of power” when her phone converations are monitored and recorded, but “business as usual” when the calls of good, law-abiding Americans are “tapped.” Unfortunately, for many of us, when we get caught up in something way beyond our control, for reasons that we cannot possibly know, we find our lives “upended” and for all intents and purposes (in some cases) pretty well destroyed. (It makes me wonder if COINTELPRO is back with a vengeance, but I digress.)

    In some cases, a faulty/bad fusion center algorithm might be enough to launch a virtual all-out offensive, I’m guessing. Or could it be that one has always been a registered Democrat who happened to travel to Somalia with with a spouse employed by a relief agency. Or was it the humanitarian work done in Nicaragua? Or perhaps the little book called “Bad Bush” that was purchased as a joke. Maybe this will open up the “out of control” domestic surveillance/wiretapping programs. We have agengies that have run amok with information that, on the face of it may seem suspicious but, in the end, is nothing. The rub is that the lives of innocent people life have been forever changed and probably not for the better. And let me tell you, these things are still in progress. These programs are still going strong.

  11. The irony of this is incredible. Harmon has been no friend to the citizens of the US, until now. Though she may be despicable, this incident has the potential to blow a lid off some of the illegality that we have all been subjected to under the surveillance state we are/have been living under. I hope it all comes out, all of it. It reminds me of East Germany after the fall. Files and files of information collected by that govt. against its own people. We should be able to see those files–a record of the abuse of power by a govt. who should never have been allowed to do such a thing.

  12. your phones

    Damn the decaf. I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang of mornings again.

  13. Irony writ large.

    SO Jane? How’s that catering to graft merchants and spies working out for you? Not so easy to be an accessory to espionage or take orders from those who bought your soul when you’re phones are tapped, is it?

  14. Yes, it’s big news when the rights of the powerful and mighty are at issue. Perhaps, this case will result in a rollback of warrantless wiretapping for the “average American.” Our lawmakers need to start digging.

    The average, law-abiding American has experienced abuses that no one seems to want to acknowledge or touch. I suppose it’s possible, just as was true regarding warrantless wiretapping, pre-Tamm, that the proverbial cats aren’t out of the bag, yet. Most people don’t know that half of it. The question is: Will they ever?

  15. “Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, has called the alleged interception of her calls with a suspected spy “an abuse of power”


    I find it deliciously ironic that the maven of Bush’s illegal intelligence program is caught with a legal wiretap. Her incredible statement that the interception is “an abuse of power” is comical since she apparently bases it on the doctrine of separation of powers. This from a woman whose imminent prosecution was waylaid by Consigliere Alberto Gonzalez, while still masquerading as AG, because Bush “needed Jane” to prop up his assault on the Constitution. The rats are in the water now!

  16. When they cam for the …I did not care because I was not a . . .When they came for me…No one was there.

    Wow, simple logic to me. Care now. Am I my brothers keeper? If someones rights are being trampled, do I care? well heck yeah, if that someone is me.

    This is why I think that the right to privacy case in the strip search is of such importance.

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