Revisiting Jane Harman’s Over-Reaction to Partisan Pressure on FISA

In October 2007, when Jane Harman was cozying up to Crazy Pete Hoekstra to forge a bipartisan compromise on FISA, I wrote this:

Buried in this article on Democrats compromising with Republicans, I noticed this paragraph:

And as Democratic leaders push their own legislation to rein in the wiretapping program, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has been quietly exploring avenues of compromise with Rep. Peter Hoekstra (Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee. Centrist Democrats hope those talks can dovetail with the Senate intelligence committee’s own bipartisan measure on surveillance of suspected terrorists.

Jane Harman, of course, is a former member of the HPSCI. Only, with the changeover in Congress, she got bounced from HPSCI and relegated to chairing the Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing and Terrorism Risk Assessment over at Homeland Security, which means she is not in a formal position of leadership on this issue. Harman made news last month when she called the Republicans on their bullshit attempts to use a sketchy terrorist threat as an excuse to push FISA amendment through. But she also appears to have been one of the only Democrats (if not the only Democrat) to have approved uncritically of Bush’s illegal wiretap program.

But now, apparently, she’s taking it upon herself to negotiate her own version of a FISA Amendment, presumably one designed to bypass HJC (which wants nothing to do with telecom immunity) and HPSCI, which under Reyes is proving to be increasingly skeptical of Bush’s BS.

How nice, that the one Democrat who gave approval to this illegal program is the one now negotiating immunity for them. Not a conflict of interest there, not at all.

 Strangely, she took time out of her bipartisan schmoozing to yell at two DFH bloggers for being critical.

Jane Harman sent a response to this post via a staffer.

What rubbish!  For those like me who insist that the President’s domestic surveillance program must comply fully with the Constitution and the 4th Amendment, the only way for Congress to get there is with a veto-proof majority.  That’s why I’m working with Republicans.  Got a better idea?

I opposed the FISA-gutting Protect America Act last August and supported the much-improved H.R. 3773, which did not include retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.  I call on the White House to do more than share selected documents with a handful of Senators – how do we know what the White House is not providing?  In my view, the question of retroactive immunity cannot even be considered until Congress is fully informed about what happened and under what authority.

It’s the same response she posted to drational’s diary at DKos, which responds to the same WaPo passage I used, but takes a different approach than I did in discussing it.

Given the CQ story on Harman today, I agree with drational that her response in 2007 is that much more interesting (and not a little ironic). Look, in particular, at the form of her rebuttal.

She claims the only way to bring Bush’s illegal wiretap program–though she refers to it only as his "domestic surveillance" program–into compliance with the Constitution is to pass amendments with a "veto proof majority." Oddly, she doesn’t mention bringing the illegal program into compliance with FISA, which I thought was the point. And she suggests that the only way to do that was to "work with Republicans"–but in so doing (she doesn’t admit this part), to undercut efforts of her own caucus in the House. In particularly, to undercut Silvestre Reyes and, arguably, even Nancy Pelosi.

And of course, she doesn’t consider simply refusing to negotiating with the Bushies intransigent stance. 

In fact, she repeats the same talking point–the "veto proof majority"–that BushCo was pushing at the time to portray the Jello Jay version as inevitable.

But then there’s the weird game with her purported support for the release of all documents pertaining to the program. All documents. Which would presumably include whatever documents memorialized the March 10, 2004 meeting

Even while, at the same time, playing into the Republican push for retroactive immunity–the one thing the Bushies demanded and needed. 

Now, her embarrassing over-reaction may have absolutely nothing to do with to events depicted in the CQ story. But I must say I was shocked by it when it happened. And utterly puzzled when trying to figure out precisely what she meant was rubbish.

71 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Well, Harman is not the only Democrat who worships at the “veto-proof majority” shrine. She must be a charter member of the Democratic Jellyfish Club (no backbones), who back away in horror when any Republican raises the specter of a “filibuster.” Nevermind that the Republicans are setting historical records for the number of filibuster threats.

    I guess Harry Reid must also be a jellyfish.

    Bob in HI

  2. bobschacht says:

    Hey, before the rest of the crowd arrives, congrats again EW on a string of stellar posts over the past few days. Are you starting to get invites from Olberman or Maddow yet?

    Bob in HI

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I’m more worried I’ll have to read her posts in the Post or NYT. Maybe the first port of call is the Washington Independent. Will she remember us when…?

    • Cheryl says:

      I’ve been wondering about that for weeks. I sure hope we get to see EW on either of the shows! Should we write to them, you think?

  3. MadDog says:

    Minor typo: complaince should be compliance.

    I’m still trying to figure out why did Jane Harman get bounced from HPSCI in 2007.

    Did someone White House-ish whisper in Nancy Pelosi’s ear about the wiretap back then?

    • Hmmm says:

      From Stein’s original story, Pelosi was informed by DoJ at the time they concluded Harman had committed a “completed crime”.

      • MadDog says:

        Doh! I read that late last night and it completely slipped my mind.

        …Quick jump over to CQ to re-read the article.

        I take that back:

        Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application. He also decided that, under a protocol involving the separation of powers, it was time to notify then-House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Minority Leader Pelosi, of the FBI’s impending national security investigation of a member of Congress — to wit, Harman.

        Goss, a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, deemed the matter particularly urgent because of Harman’s rank as the panel’s top Democrat.

        But that’s when, according to knowledgeable officials, Attorney General Gonzales intervened.

        According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he “needed Jane” to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

        Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program

        He was right.

        On Dec. 21, 2005, in the midst of a firestorm of criticism about the wiretaps, Harman issued a statement defending the operation and slamming the Times, saying, “I believe it essential to U.S. national security, and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.”

        Pelosi and Hastert never did get the briefing.

        And thanks to grateful Bush administration officials, the investigation of Harman was effectively dead…

      • Leen says:

        Pelosi dropped her like a hot potato. The investigation that was dropped by Gonzales should be jump started again. This woman was playing both sides in support of protecting Aipac/Rosen/espionage charges

    • MadDog says:

      From that Q&A session:

      Laura in DC: Great scoop. How does one know it was an NSA wiretap versus an FBI wiretap?
      Jeff Stein: Good question. I’m told it was a court-approved NSA tap.

      And this:

      Mary from Kentucky: Your piece refers to a lot of action vis a vis the CIA re: the FBI investigation with no mention of Mueller and his role.

      Since when would Goss be the “go to” on signing off on an FBI application to FISCt for an ongoing FBI investigation? IOW, why is the CIA the spider in the center of the web for the decisions on the FBI investigation, with Gonzales going to Goss to spike the investigation?

      {I’ll have to say, I’m also confused as to how minimization would have allowed Harman to be in captured in toto in any event and also the identity of the AIPAC agent can be so fuzzy and yet there be a FISCt order that allowed the interceptions and also why Harman would have believed that the Israeli agent would have had the necessary connections with Pelosi to pull off what was being promised.

      Jeff Stein: Very good question. Mueller is the first “go-to,” and in his absence, his deputy. But I was told they were out of town when DoJ came looking for sign-offs on the renewal of the FISA tap. Thus Goss was the first to see the new info about Harman, and was intending to act upon it.

      (Is this our Mary? It sure sounds like it.)

      • drational says:

        This is a pretty lame response. Goss was the only one “in town”?
        Since when does the CIA have jurisdiction over domestic issues? Over congresswomen?
        If this is his depth of vetting, they leaked to the right reporter….

        • MadDog says:

          Since when does the CIA have jurisdiction over domestic issues?

          I think this is an important point!

          Based on the timing of this “AIPAC dismissed the two in May 2005, about five months before the events here unfolded.”, it would appear that it operated under FISA before it was watered down.

          And during this time, and even under the 2001 Patriot Act, it appears as if the “authorizing authority” for wiretap requests to the FISA Court, still require:

          Section 201 is titled Authority to intercept wire, oral, and electronic communications relating to terrorism. This section amended 18 U.S.C. § 2516 (Authorization for interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications) of the United States Code. This section allows (under certain specific conditions) the United States Attorney General (or some of his subordinates) to authorize a Federal judge to make an order authorizing or approving the interception of wire or oral communications by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or another relevant U.S. Federal agency.

          The Attorney General’s subordinates who can use Section 201 are: the Deputy Attorney General, the Associate Attorney General, any Assistant Attorney General, any acting Assistant Attorney General, any Deputy Assistant Attorney General or acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Criminal Division who is specially designated by the Attorney General…

          As far as my reading goes, CIA Director Porter Goss had no such authority to signoff on wiretap requests to the FISA Court.

          And secondly, my reading of the list of authorized persons, shows that almost everybody at the DOJ had to be “out of town” in order not to find a DAAG.

          Sounds like bullshit to me!

        • bobschacht says:

          You don’t suppose that Mueller knew this was coming down, knew which way the wind was blowing, and decided that he didn’t want his fingerprints on this?

          Just wondering.

          Bob in HI

          • MarkH says:

            Like the time he didn’t get any reports about foreigners training to be airplane pilots who could fly, but not land? Nah, not likely.

  4. Mary says:

    She claims the only way to bring Bush’s illegal wiretap program–though she refers to it only as his “domestic surveillance” program–into compliance with the Constitution is to pass amendments with a “veto proof majority.” Oddly, she doesn’t mention bringing the illegal program into compliance with FISA, which I thought was the point.

    All of which ignored, too, the fact that if Bush had been ignoring the Consitution and FISA before the amendments, there wasn’t much reason to believe that there was any way (much less the only way) to get him to comply with “amendments” vs a little something they used to call consequences.

  5. TheraP says:

    EW, were you born on Krypton? Cuz you seem to have X-ray vision! I am astounded at your memory and, even more, your perspicacity! Your nose for the detail out of place that suggests something “more” than meets the eye.

    You’ve definitely been on a roll here. I’m sure I express the gratitude of many.

  6. maryo2 says:

    Re: Pelosi never got the briefing in December 2005. I was reading randomly from the google this morning and saw references to Pelosi not wanting Harmon to chair the House Intelligence Committee as far back as June 2005.…

  7. Nell says:

    @#3 MadDog =

    There was a public sort of battle-by-leaks and -pundits in the fall of 2005 about the House intel committee and the chair. (As an aside, the very existence of media and blog coverage of this positioning battle strengthens my side of the argument with drational; why would it have even come up if Beltway types didn’t see the House turnover as a near-lock at that point?).

    Sparked by a Charles Babington Washington Post story in September 2005, Steve Clemons lobbed for Harman in a series of distasteful* Washington Note posts, continuing after the elections (when Clemons dialed it back a bit, in part because of the AIPAC investigation). There was a good amount of coverage at TPM of the issues, as well, in late 2006.

    It was an uncomfortable discussion, pitting as it did various constituencies in the party against each other, and none of the leading choices being very appealing to those of us seriously interested in active oversight. If I were the Speaker, I’d have picked Rush Holt. (But we’d be in an alternative universe if I were Speaker of the House!)

    *Samples: ‘Nancy Pelosi: You Are Undermining Dems on National Security By Moving Harman Off Intel Committee’
    ‘Nancy Pelosi: Don’t Make ‘Serious Dems’ Choke Down Alcee Hastings’

  8. tanbark says:

    Oh, as already noted above, Congresswoman Harman was as busy as a little bee:…..0003098436

    She was shilling to get the spying charges dropped against the AIPAC staffers, in exchange for AIPAC’s lobbying Pelosi to appoint Harman chairperson of the Intelligenc Committee, after the 2006 elections…

    What a coup that would be: for AIPAC to have the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee squarely in their pocket.

    Talk about getting a lot of bang for your lobbying buck!

    • Larue says:

      ‘Sup, Hoss! *G*

      Ain’t this a mess?

      We KNOW Harman is a shill for AIPAC.

      We’re told she had issues with Pelosi (or vice versa), what WERE those issues?

      We’re told Porter Goss had it in for her from her letter to the CIA.

      We’re told Gonzo has meeting notes, to pressure ALL the Gang Of Eight, back in ‘02.

      And that Gang Of Eight basically sanctioned torture, and wiretaps.

      So the Gang Of Eight, what, at least TWO of its incarnations, would be maybe Total Gang of 16? More or less? Of our highest ranking and senior congress crits?

      They would be . . . as Berke Breathed once penned: Guilty. GUILTY. GUILTY!.

      And thus, quite erm, OPEN to being blackmailed then and now.

      It’s a clusterphuck of epic proportions.

      As others have said, in one way or another, May Dawg Bless Mz. Marcy Wheeler And All Her Vital Organs (John Duffey paraphrase).

      Mz. Wheeler, you are SO the bestest, thanks for all you do.

  9. Nell says:

    Together, mary02’s Mondoweiss link, those in my comment, and the TPM timeline’s citation that Haim Saban lobbied Pelosi in 2006 before the elections to rename Harman intel chair demolish the idea that there could not have been a quid pro quo with AIPAC. There pretty clearly was.

    If the Stein story isn’t solid, it isn’t because of that angle.

    As before, this is not to say there are no question marks hovering over other aspects of the Jeff Stein story. drational and Mary raise solid questions about the wiretap and its authorization, and I’d like more information on Harman’s activities aimed at discouraging NY Times reporting on the warrantless surveillance before the 2004 elections (as opposed to her being critical of the reporting after the story broke).

  10. Mary says:

    10 – yep

    I’ve been flitting in other threads, didn’t see your Q.

    Off to take care of horses now.

  11. Mary says:

    More re: 10 – in response to that info about Goss, WO had this reaction in 27 of the McCain torture thread

    This story makes less and less sense. Somebody’s been spinning Stein in a major way. I don’t have time to track this all down, but I’m reasonably sure that the sequence that Stein describes is pure bunk

    and I kicked in with

    If they were going to FISct, the dealmaker on it all would normally have been the AG, not FBI Dir (although for an FBI program he might be involved in the factual recitation certifications of the application)or much less the CIA. There’s no way FISCt was going to let them be targetting a US Member of Congress, on the Intel committe no less, without the AG on that application. So Gonzales didn’t have to go to anyone – just not sign off. My take at least.

  12. Hmmm says:

    Stein’s sources are “two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript”. Mueller and whom else?

  13. drational says:

    Porter Goss.
    and “two former senior national security officials”. The romantic interpretation is that these are two line cops who just can’t enjoy retirement until their “last cold case” is solved. I suspect the reality involves political appointees.

    Why go to CQ and not Risen and Lichtblau who Harman apparently screwed out of an election changing pulitzer article?

    Plus the CIA vs FBI issue for authority for an FBI wiretap.

    Plus the weird timing exaggerations. (Dem victory near certain a year out)

    Plus the target was apparently Saban, a major dem donor.

    Plus the timing to coincide with al haramain continuance, torture memos.

    Plus the article essentially indicates it was a given that AIPAC controlled the most powerful woman in the US (that Harman believed they could force Pelosi to put her as chair).

    Plus the only republican sacrificed is Gonzo, who is already dead.

    This is too damn convenient.

      • drational says:

        Haim Saban is a major dem donor.

        Former administration officials have something to gain from outing Harman:

        1. The dilution effect- heat on a congresswoman rather than the CIA and NSA (Goss involvement, wiretap andtorture issues red hot now)

        2. The horsehead in the bed. I think this is a warning shot to Dem leaders in a position to go after CIA/NSA for prosecutions. Harman is chump change, with no major leadership positions. But How many existing Dem leaders got on the phone with Haim Saban, a major Dem donor and the wiretap target? How many agreed to do something or other, that can now be characterized as Congressman xxx agreed to do xxx for Israeli spy?

        We already know from the NYT article Saban gave big money to Pelosi. How many times were their conversations wiretapped?

        Let me give you a list of who Haim Saban has contributed to:
        Edward J. Markey (D)
        Jeanne Shaheen (D)
        Xavier Becerra (D)
        Hillary Rodham Clinton (D)
        Jane Harman (D)
        Hilda L. Solis (D)
        Mary Landrieu (D)
        Howard L. Berman (D)
        Rahm Emanuel (D)
        Daniel K. Inouye (D)
        Richard J. Durbin (D)
        Hillary Clinton (D)
        Frank R. Lautenberg (D)
        Barbara Boxer (D)
        Amy Klobuchar (D)
        Harold, Jr. Ford (D)
        Bill Nelson (D)
        Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D)
        Joseph Lieberman (D)
        John Edwards (D)
        Wesley Clark (D)
        Evan Bayh (D)
        John Kerry (D)

        This is a small part of his contributions to the Democratic Party. This guy got his wiretapped phone answered by anyone he called.

        Jane Harman is the Horsehead in the bed.

        • Watt4Bob says:

          I have always wondered whether we’d ever get a real, down and dirty demonstration of the mechanism by which our representatives have their spines removed upon reaching washington?

          Now that you mention it, I think you’re right, it requires lots of blood.

          The horsehead in the bed. I think this is a warning shot to Dem leaders in a position to go after CIA/NSA for prosecutions.

          Does the publics ability to ignore reality really extend this far?

          Can they keep defeating campaign finance reform?

        • Leen says:

          trying to remember where I read this alleged statement by Jane Harman back in 2006 “When the [Haim] Saban Center talks, I listen,” Harman said at a Saban Center”

          Did she say this?

        • Nell says:

          Haim Saban, a major Dem donor and the wiretap target
          This guy got his wiretapped phone answered …

          Assuming facts not in evidence.

          Jane Harman is in trouble because she agreed to intervene in a court case, making her horsehead material. Do you think everyone who might have talked to the wiretap target (not yet shown to be Saban) agreed to do something equally unethical or illegal? If not, then it’s hard to imagine that every member of Congress who ever took a call from Haim Saban is quaking in their boots.

          • drational says:

            and 60.
            Yeah I may have gotten the saban wrong. could have been Saban’s assistant or someone who controlled Saban.

            At this point Harman is fighting mad demanding release of unredacted transcripts- I’d say the jury is out on whether she actually did anything wrong wrt to this quid pro quo.
            I think she is being targeted to warn off other dems that they are on some tapes too, and thus could be victims of anonymous “former intelligence official” leaks.

  14. SmileySam says:

    Many will forget that Harman was up for re-election not long ago. Once she heard that her seat was being threatened she turned back into a liberal for a few months, just long enough to save her seat. Maybe we can do better next time or given her age maybe she will do us all a favor and retire.

  15. Nell says:

    There are certainly questions to be answered that could make this a different story than it appeared today. But:

    – The fact that no Republicans were harmed (other than Gonzales) in the production of the CQ story is not very persuasive evidence that it’s not an accurate story. Some stories are just about Democrats who suck, like Murtha’s corrupt earmarks.

    – Timing of article: Stein said today in online chat that he’d had the information for a while and is only now ”able to turn his attention” to it. Quite a few competing theories there; mine is that it’s recently been made safer to do solid reporting on the Lobby. The timing is Stein’s or his editors’, not the sources’. Still might be eerie or sinister, but it’s a busy world; every story coincides with something related.

    – The target of the tap was not necessarily Saban. Naor Golin is equally plausible, and there could well be other candidates not yet mentioned. All we know is that Saban lobbied Pelosi to keep Harman in the senior Dem slot on HPSCI.

    – It’s not exactly far-fetched to believe that AIPAC donors, some of whom are huge Democratic donors, would be effective lobbying Nancy Pelosi. It’s a straw argument to say “they thought they could force Pelosi..” No one thought any such thing. Pelosi’s responded to plenty of direct AIPAC appeals; one example that leaps to mind is her removing a no-attack-on-Iran-without-Congressional-approval measure from the Dems’ Iraq bill after a day of being lobbied by the participants in AIPAC’s annual policy conference.

    – The ’wierd timing exaggerations’ about elections is a worthless avenue for criticism; please let this go and focus on more promising lines. Harman waged a very public battle to keep her Intel ranking member position/chairmanship, which was term-limited, from at least July 2005 onward. Stein is right about that but misleads about Dem victory playing a big role (though many pols did assume House turn in 2006): HPSCI is equal numbers of both parties and diff betw/ ranking member and chair is nowhere as big as in regular committees; either way Pelosi would have to re-appoint her, and all signs pointed to Pelosi not doing so without lobbying. See the links in my #21, mary02’s #3, and this from E.F. Felson at Mondoweiss.

    Productive avenues of questioning:

    – the sources (by ’Mueller’ do people here mean Robert Mueller of FBI? He’s not a former national security official, he’s still the head of the FBI. What am I missing here?).

    – the wiretap’s authorization and timing (and target).

    – Harman’s role if any in suppressing NYT story vs. being critical of it after publication

  16. goldpearl says:

    congrats on the rachel shout-out marcy!

    i did not digg

    i cut & pasted & sent you out in an email – which will be forwarded, and forwarded and…

  17. nextstopchicago says:

    Someone earlier today mentioned that this was being blacked out by mainstream media. Not no more. Top story at the NYTimes:…

    I think the Times may have hired Marcy as their new assignment editor.

    • EternalVigilance says:

      Though that’s one helluva milquetoast headline: “Lawmaker Is Said to Have Agreed to Aid Lobbyists.”

      Gee, that’ll get the story the attention it deserves.

      What hard-hitting NYT expose might be next? “Sun Is Said To Rise In The East”?

      And the “story,” such as it is, seems as much as anything about ass-covering on the part of the NYT about whether Harman influenced their holding the NSA spying story until safely after the 2004 election.

      To me, this is the kind of coverage that’s about being able to say they covered it, so they can get on with making the story go away. The media version of a non-denial denial – the non-story story.

      As far as the core issue, that agents accused of giving top secret U.S national security information in wartime to Israel are still influencing government policy in the Obama Administration (Steve Rosen was one of the prime movers in getting Chas Freeman’s nomination killed – for supposedly being loyal to foreign governments!) – well, I doubt we’ll hear much of that from the NYT.

      • nextstopchicago says:

        I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t actually read it. My thought was, oh, I already know what that is. I was just surprised they covered it.

        At least on-line, while the headline is as you say, the portion of the lead visible right now on the homepage is stronger. I don’t think the article taken in full is as weak as you say, though it’s definitely not particularly strong either.

  18. wavpeac says:

    Well, as cynical as I am about the dems in power and the current administration, I will say this. More information is continuing to come out. Thank you thank you Marcy…it was so wonderful to see you get at least some of the recognition you deserve.

    I have a tendency to believe that the truth is like water…it finds it’s way to the lowest places eventually. The scale of these problems is truly mind blowing. It’s hard to be patient.

    What we have suspected has been validated. Many of our representatives have been compromised and that means they no longer serve you and I. We have to radically accept this truth on some level. It’s not black and white, it doesn’t meaan they “never” represent our best interests, but it means that we have to do it for ourselves. We have to accept that they may be unable to do what needs to be done…which means we have to…with or without them.

    Bloggers are a big part of the solution, it’s no wonder that they attempt to minimize this faction of active democracy. Keep it coming…and lets all continue to press for truth.

    These blogs, the minds that behind them, the investigative work, the thoughtful comments are the only thing to give me hope for our country.

    (so…when the end of times comes…where are you all going to be headed anyway???) ; D

    • Leen says:

      Was great to hear Rachel focus on the detailed work of Emptywheel and the big Wheel’s here at FDL. Thanks for all you folks do for justice.

      Deeply disappointed in OBama’s announcement that he will not only push for going after those who did the torturing but not interested in going after those who rewrote the torture laws. This confirms that any time he states that “no one is above the law” that he knows he is lying. Very sad.

      Hoping Holder meant what he said “no one is above the law” at least 10 times during his nomination hearings. (I had the good fortune to be there)

      If Obama, Holder, our reps refuse to enforce the rule of law the message is clear to the peasants the CIA, the Bush administration officials who rewrote those laws are absolutely ABOVE THE LAW. And Obama, Holder our Reps are LIARS

  19. katiejacob says:

    OT sorry, but Elizabeth DelaVega has a post at Truthout ( “There is no doubt that sometime in 2002 – if not before – Bush administration officials and their lawyers began orchestrating a torture campaign, which they calculatedly attempted to justify through specious legal memos…. I am increasingly outraged by the day, disgusted by years of inaction, and impatient for results. Consequently, I would like nothing more than to join with so many friends and associates whom I respect in calling for immediate appointment of a special prosecutor. Unfortunately, however, I can’t do it. Not yet.”

    She explains why a special prosecutor, at this time, would be counter productive.

    This is worth a read, especially because I think there is a petition posted at FDL asking for a Special prosecutor.

  20. Mary says:

    I still think the most interesting part of the story is how they got the conversation to start with – I understand that they were engaged in authorized surveillance of a suspected Israeli agent, but what was the nature of the surveillance and the related minimization procedures that allowed for capturing her whole conversation with him when she wasn’t a target at the time? And even if making her a target was nixed, was there never a follow up contact between her and the suspected agent?

  21. Mary says:

    52 – I don’t think we have to wait any longer on the ‘liars’ determination.

    I’ll also cynically repeat my take on the long delays for Dawn Johnsen getting the OLC nod. I think thatthe delay is only partly the Republican’s doing. IMO, it’s been very convenient for Holder and Obama that she isn’t in at OLC while they are orchestrating the non-prosecution of torture, the non-release of the Binyam Mohamed documents and the pressure on the UK, the multiple carryovers of Bush policies in a myriad of cases and the negotiations on shipment of GITMO prisoners. IMO, if Obama wanted here in there badly enough, he could make it happen and could get the Dem butts in gear. But it’s helpful for him, for now, to not be issuing his proclamations with a dissenter.

  22. Mary says:

    It looks like that question of how the FBI/NSA got the whole conversation with Harman when she wasn’t a target is a bit touchy. In the follow up NYT story this morning they give not one, not two, but THREE sources all on the single issue of the “inadvertence” of the original eavesdrop.…..f=politics

    Ms. Harman was inadvertently swept up by N.S.A. eavesdroppers who were listening in on conversations during an investigation, three current or former senior officials said.

    Most of the rest of the story is this source or that one, but the dogpile is on “inadvertence” for the original pick up – I do have to wonder about what the original minimization was because this rush to “inadvertence” seems to indicate that maybe what was picked up shouldn’t have been.

    And maybe, even though Gonzales didn’t sign off, there was more than one instance of inadvertence?

    One of the officials said he was familiar with the transcript of “at least one phone call” in which Ms. Harman discussed weighing in with the department on the investigation of the Aipac officials and her possible chairwomanship of the Intelligence Committee.

    • Leen says:

      was the alleged wiretapping of Colin Powell by Bolton that Sidney Blumenthal wrote about in any way linked to any of this?…..index.html

      Those NSA intercepts that Biden,Kerry, Lincoln Chaffee were demanding during Bolton’s nomination hearing?

  23. Mary says:

    OT but also interesting – Spencer has a story up about a 2007 memo still being withheld, which his sources say deals with interrogation practices in light of not only the Hamdan decision (that the Geneva Convention Common Article 3 applies to ALL detainees) but the Congressional MCA response (thank you Harry Reid)(which bolsters the right of the President to interpret the Geneva Conventions and changed the UCMJ that the Sup Ct used as the vehicle for apply the GCs to all detainees)


    A former senior intelligence official, who would not speak for the record, said that in 2007, the head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, Steven Bradbury, issued a still-secret memorandum authorizing an updated CIA interrogation regimen. The Justice Department issued the document after months of internal Bush administration debate, a Supreme Court decision in 2006 that extended protections from Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions to enemy combatants in U.S. custody, a piece of new legislation responding to the Court’s decision and a presidential executive order on interrogations.

    Here’s the Bush Exec Order issued after the MCA

    I don’t recall anyone ever asking Obama if he agrees that common article three applies to all detainees, everywhere. That would be nice to know something about.

    In any event, Michael Ratner has a question in Spencer’s article:

    “Who are they interrogating in 2007?” Ratner said. “Who are they torturing in 2007? Is that they’re nervous about going beyond what OLC has said? These are secret-site people. Who are they? What happened to them?”

    And in addition to those we have shipped all kinds of places, and in addition to Panetta’s claims that the CIA will stay in the “temporary detention” business under his leadership, some other news made think about who it might be that they were wanting to torture in 2007. There’s a story up about Roxanna Saberi (keep her in your prayers and keep up the pressure to get her released) being held in Iran, and Ahmidinawhatever speechifying on how she should be given a fair trial. Tucked into that story, though, is a revisit of a topic that doesn’t get much ink:

    Iranian leaders have repeatedly asked for the release of three Iranian diplomats, who are accused of spying but have been held without trial by U.S. forces in Iraq since 2007. The Iranian foreign ministry recently called for the “speedy and unconditional freedom of its consulate officials.”

    • Nell says:

      Bingo on the Iranians taken in Irbil. The first Roxana Saberi story in the WaPo weeks ago also ended with mention of them, and my immediate reaction was:

      When did five become three? Five men were kidnaped, and it’s possible that two were quietly released since, but that wasn’t true as of early 2008. Is anyone aware of any coverage of the prisoners?

      It used to infuriate me when stories about Haleh Esfandariah and other Iranian-Americans held in prison or under house arrest in Iran would never so much as mention the Irbil prisoners.

  24. Mary says:

    45/58- the nyt story makes it sound as if Saban was not the target, but was mentioned on the call:

    In return, the caller promised her that a wealthy California donor — the media mogul Haim Saban — would threaten to withhold campaign contributions to Representative Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who was expected to become House speaker after the 2006 election, if she did not select Ms. Harman for the intelligence post.

    59 – Olson, eh? I hope he does her no favors on billing.

  25. Civlibertarian says:

    Interesting notion that Harman is the horse’s head.

    To shift gears slightly, I have a question:

    Harman was offered a quid-pro-quo which was possibly illegal and certainly unethical. I imagine that there are rules and protocols for Congresspeople to follow in this situation, involving immediately notifying someone to report what had just transpired. What is the proper procedure that is supposed to be followed, and how is it communicated to new Congresspeople?

    Of course the question is moot since obviously Harman didn’t follow the protocol, which leaves only the option to deny any quid pro quo occurred.

    • Nell says:

      What is the proper procedure that is supposed to be followed?

      I’m no expert, but my take is:

      1- When the improper suggestion is made, say: “Absolutely not. This conversation is over.”

      2 – Hang up the phone and call the FBI on another line. Document and/or get a witness that you have done so.

  26. tanbark says:

    BTW, if the AIPAC-Harman-Pelosi scenario had played out the way AIPAC wanted, they would have owned the chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.

    That aint hardly “chump change”.

  27. Mary says:

    57 ? I don’t know and don’t know enough to speculate. It’ll be interesting to see if a connection emerges.

  28. Nell says:

    #54 –

    My take is less cynical than Mary’s. I’d actually wondered if Dawn Johnsen, during the week or two of public speculation and dueling leaks (they’re going to release the OLC memos / they’re not going to / they’re going to release them but heavily redacted), hadn’t had a quiet word with her future boss Holder or even with Pres. Obama. Something along the lines of, “If you don’t release the memos cleanly, I don’t want the job anymore.”

    It’s one thing to be left twisting in the wind waiting for confirmation. It’s another to do so while the principle for which you are a major spokesperson — no secret laws — is very publicly repudiated in practice by the organization you’re waiting to work for.

  29. Mary says:

    64 – that could be, but it seems to me that releasing the memos is pretty small next to the waivers for responsiblity he has handed out and his Presidential proclamation that having people carry out the techniques in the memos is a policy, not a criminal, matter. I guess if she still wants the job in that posture, that might make me agree with your take, but it wouldn’t make me less cynical about the overall situation. Not that I expect anything from DOJ anymore. You can’t graft onto rotted flesh.

    TPM is saying that Harman is calling for the release of the transcripts. I think that makes the original point about how they were obtained that much more interesting. With Harman’s background, she probably has a very good idea of what is supposed to happen with “inadvertently” obtained US persons conversations under most FISA warrants. I’m guessing that it might be those transcripts shouldn’t exist any longer if she was not a target herself and if NSA/FBI followed minimization procedures or court orders. So this may be some chicken at work. If FBI still has them, maybe it is in violation (like that would be a shock) of court orders – if it doesn’t have them, no one can “prove” the info.

    Her problem right now isn’t really how this will play criminally – it’s how it will play in her district. Can she make it out that she’s a victim? I don’t think so.

    • Nell says:

      releasing the memos is pretty small next to the waivers for responsiblity he has handed out and his Presidential proclamation that having people carry out the techniques in the memos is a policy, not a criminal, matter.

      Maybe. If I were Dawn Johnsen, I’d be keenly aware that those waivers aren’t worth much if any prosecution got going, and that his proclamations are poltiical.

      And releasing the memos isn’t really so small. It turns up stuff, which leads to other stuff… as we see happening right around us.

      Your cynicism about DoJ is surely justified (though I’m going to have to wash that metaphor out of my mind ;>).

  30. rjrnab says:

    Let’s face it, Paneta inherited a can of worms from Hayden as bad as Obombya received from W. (son of Jerry Ford CIA terrorist Herbert W. ) Cheney. Even Slick Willy signed off on wire tap executive power cottoning up to all that Bush good ol’ boy network 90’s spin. The American people will probably have to settle down and watch the next De Nero movie about the CIA to formulate how our government really works. Zeitgist MSNBC last 17, April – Morning Joe with that Vanity Fair Brit Chris Hutchins telling it like it is to Mika and Brainwashed Joe. Da, I mean if you can’t figure PP Hoekstra’s working that mis/dis info machine, and enabling the old Nixon era black-mail tactics machine. Eric Prince the new G G Liddy plumber.

  31. cregan says:

    It’s about time someone nailed Harman. She has been odd person out for some time and now we see the reason.

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