Jane Harman's Media Tour Gets Off to a Bad Start
Congresswoman Jane Harman took to the airwaves to defend herself against the charge that she conspired with a "suspected Israeli operative" to quash an espionage prosecution against former AIPAC employees. It didn't go so well.
Harman (D-Calif.) went on NPR's All Things Considered and tried to stonewall, refusing to even confirm that the alleged conversations with the Israeli operative—which CQ reported were caught in a NSA wiretap—even took place. "We don't know if there was a phone call," she said, adding that it "may or may not have taken place." The she demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder release full transcripts of any calls that may have been recorded.
But when host Robert Siegal called bullshit on that request—Holder isn't going to release unredacted transcripts of calls wiretapped by the NSA or FBI during an investigation, so Harman gets to look like she wants full disclosure without having to worry about what might be on those tapes—Harman put her foot in her mouth. Watch her squirm:
But, indeed, if what happened was, initially, your phone wasn't tapped [and that] the person you were talking with was being tapped - and if that was an investigation of a foreign agent, is it realistic to think that anybody is going to release a completely unredacted transcript of that conversation?
Well, let's find out. I mean, the person I was talking to was an American citizen. I know something about the law and wiretaps. There are two ways you do it. One is you get a FISA warrant, which has to start with a foreign suspected terrorist, a non-American foreigner. If this was FISA, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that would have had to happen.
But if you know that it was an American citizen -
If it was Article III, FBI wiretap, that's different. But I don't know what this was. And I don't know why this was done. And I don't know who the sources are who are claiming that this happened are and I think -
But you are saying that you know it was an American citizen. So that would suggest that you know that there was a -
Well, I know that anyone I would have talked to about, you know, the AIPAC prosecution would have been an American citizen. I didn't talk to some foreigner about it.
You never spoke to an Israeli? You never spoke to an Israeli about this.
Well, I speak to Israelis from time to time.
Harman also went on MSNBC, where she feigned outrage at having been wiretapped by the NSA:
I hope that [Attorney General Eric Holder] will investigate whether other members of Congress or other innocent Americans may have been subject to this kind of treatment.... I'm very disappointed that my country—I'm an American citizen just like you are—could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I'm one member of Congress who may be caught up in it. But have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I'm thinking of others who may not have a bully pulpit and may not be aware, as I was not, that right now, somewhere, somenone's listening in on their conversations—and they're innocent Americans.
Harman's gall is epic. She enabled the very abuse of power she decries: Harman was one of the eight members of Congress "read into" the NSA's wiretapping program—which completely ignored the very law passed to prevent abuses of power like listening in on members of Congress' phone calls—by the Bush Administration. She knew about it years ago. For her to pose—"I'm thinking of others who may not be aware, as I was not"—as an ingenue when it comes to her country's deliberate targeting of it's own citizens in NSA sweeps is pathological.