Mr. “Newsweek” Jane Harman’s Role in the Intelligence Industrial Complex

You all know I’m a big fan of the work Tim Shorrock has done to track the dangers of the privatization of the intelligence industrial complex. Today, he kicks off an ongoing relationship with the Daily Beast–so now we can read at the Daily Beast what the WaPo will cover in two years in warmed-over form. Today’s article traces the role that Jane Harman’s husband and the guy who just bought Newsweek for $1, Sidney, has in an intelligence advisory group called “Business Executives for National Security.”

But few in Washington are aware that the real intelligence insider of the Harman family may be Sidney himself, through his connections to an obscure but highly influential organization known as Business Executives for National Security.


Founded by [Stanley] Weiss, a mining and chemical executive who for years served as a director of Harman’s audio-equipment company, BENS today represents about 350 of the country’s largest manufacturing, transportation, information technology, communications, and national-security firms.Harman himself chaired the organization’s executive committee from 1982 to 2009 and “contributed over $1 million over the years” to the organization, Weiss told The Daily Beast in an email from Indonesia. Although its CEO, retired Army General Montgomery C. Meigs, manages the organization, its corporate members, led by Harman, have set the pace. “Dr. Harman played an important role [in BENS] for a quarter century,” Weiss told me. “He was deeply involved in all aspects of BENS’ work.” Harman could not be reached for comment.

Shorrock goes on to describe how BENS has been pushing privatization since the Clinton Administration, and just last month recommended further opportunities for profiteering to the Obama Administration.

Just last month it was asked by Obama’s Defense Department to review its recommendations for reducing the cost of military business operations. It came up with a dense, three-page list of suggested changes, among them: outsourcing more “non-core functions” and a recommendation that the Pentagon eliminate “the practice of treating ‘excessive profits’ as improper.”

And yeah, Shorrock points out that her husband’s role in outsourcing intelligence was a conflict of interest when Jane Harman chaired the House Intelligence Committee (and she still chairs the Intelligence Subcommittee at the Committee on Homeland Security). But seeing as how we’ve got DiFi, another spouse of a big MIC contractor, currently running the Senate Intelligence Committee, I guess we should just write that off as par for the course, huh?

  1. SaltinWound says:

    Given the dance Harman has done with the Israelis, it is always worth mentioning that not all these private companies are American. I also wonder if her oversight of the CIA serves the dual function of taking work away from them.

  2. Jeff Kaye says:

    Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence. — Thomas Jefferson

    Maybe Jefferson was prescient by some 200 years.

    I love this: “… a recommendation that the Pentagon eliminate “the practice of treating ‘excessive profits’ as improper.” The man is a comedian.

  3. klynn says:

    Both of you crack me up.

    Great post.

    This is why none of our DoD or Intel should ever be privatized.

    Shorrock wrote here that he was working on a piece involving all the equity firms and the corp/congressional ties to DoD and intel as well.

  4. PJEvans says:

    outsourcing more “non-core functions”

    By hiring Blackwater/Xe to provide ‘security’ and KBR to build bases? Which telecom are they outsourcing communications to?

  5. Mary says:

    Excess is always proper – I think that’s in the Bible somewhere.

    Maybe in the part that God outsourced.

  6. Mary says:

    Kinda OT, but is Gen Petraeus coming to the Lake as part of his book war promotional tour?

    I’m waiting for Gregory of Stephie or anyone who has been sighing deeply over what would happen to women in Afghanistan “when we go” and waving the Time cover – to ask the Gen if the US has gone out and picked up that poor woman’s husband or actually DONE (or plans on actually DOING) anything about the situation that is offered up as the example of why we can’t leave.

    And maybe they can get him to explain why Afghan courts have jurisdiction in Bagram, but the US military there operates free from US law?

    What an inspiring message. Maybe they can carve it into the abdomens of the bodies of Afghan women while they are digging out the bullets.

  7. bobschacht says:

    …a recommendation that the Pentagon eliminate “the practice of treating ‘excessive profits’ as improper.”

    Gag me with a spoon, ferchrisakes.
    And then add in DiFi’s conflicted interests.

    This has got to stop.

    Thanks for this exposé!

    Bob in AZ

    • bluewombat says:

      Yes, that jumped right out at me too. How dare the government stand in the way of corporations’ God-given right to soak the American taxpayer? Why, it’s almost socialistic when you think about it!

  8. Sara says:

    Looks like Sid Harmon’s great wish for greater and greater outsourcing and contracting will not come to be at least in the next year. Just as I was reading this, NPR was playing Robert Gates making announcement that 10% of the current outsourcing will be dropped in next year’s DOD budget. More the following years. Long argument as to why outsourcing had proved to be a failed concept.

      • Sara says:

        Apparently, what Gates proposes is a 10% reduction in outsourcing Contracts per year for three years, in otherwords ultimately a 30% cut in outsourcing.

        He proposes to eliminate one permenant command, a Joint Services Command headquartered at Norfolk VA, eliminating 5000 contract employees in the process. In otherwords a whole command that is populated by non-military — not-in-the-chain-of-Command — personnel. The idea is to assign the functions to other commands, but streamline, and assign jobs only to members of the uniformed military.

        If I remember rightly, that Cheney air trip to Norfolk at the very beginning of the Plame story, where they cooked-up their stories, and the strategy for breaking things in the press, was about giving Cheney’s blessing to the formation of this Joint Command. So you may be right, — this is about closing down many of the “private/corporate” parts of the military that Cheney built up off the books.

        Must say I appreciate Gates sage and low keyed way of making announcements such as this. So now I await the full list of “things” Gates proposes to bring back in house, and assign to strictly military personnel, or to civilian employees of DOD.

  9. AZ Matt says:

    It is All In The Family with Jane having the Archie Bunker role.

    OT – I donated $75 to the Marcy Wheeler fund a few days ago and there has been no update to the donations indicator. Is FDL placing those donations in the right place?

  10. eCAHNomics says:

    Just having an organization named Business Executives for National Security is Orwellian. No one should ever believe biz execs give a ff about any nation’s security.

  11. applepie says:

    I was just shopping for new speakers and almost brought some Infinity speakers. After I placed my order I realized they were Harman Kardon owned and promptly cancelled my order. I found better speakers at a better price via audioholics.

    We need to stop funding these crazies. Jane Harman has too much money to be voted out of office but we can stop funding them with our purchases.

    Israel does not own America. Right-wing militarists and their shills are destroying our nation, our culture, and our planet.

    Goodbye Newsweek. Another media source perverted by the plutocracy.

    • Theater403 says:

      The Wikipedia says Sid is nearly 30 years older than Jane…not that this matters but something makes me feel like it does.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      It’s important when participating in any consumer boycott, whether organized or self-generated like your is, to let the company and the retailer know why you’ve chosen another product over the one made by a war profiteer. It’s only as their association with Mr and Mrs Spymaster becomes toxic that Infinity, or HK, will ask the Harmans to step away from active ownership or management.

      Really, let everyone who suffered from the choice you made know why you made it, every time.

  12. Jeff Kaye says:

    Btw, that was a nice shout-out to you by Shorrock at the end of the piece.

    As regards strange connections, consider this from Daily Beast article:

    Since 2001, [BENS] has expanded its ties with the intelligence community; last year, it elected Gen. Michael V. Hayden, the former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency (and now a contractor himself), to its advisory council.

    Hmm… Michael Hayden… wasn’t he NSA director in 2005, the same year Jane Harman was “overheard on a 2005 National Security Agency wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)”? And weren’t they going to possibly prosecute her, but then Attorney General Gonzales reportedly “intervened to stop the Harman probe because the administration wanted Harman to be able to defend the warrantless wiretapping program the New York Times was about to disclose.”

    Yes, Jane Harman at this time was one of the biggest defenders of the NSA warrantless wiretap program:

    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.”

    Welcome to BENS, General Hayden.

    We should demand Harman resign from the chairmanship of the Intelligence Subcommittee at the Committee on Homeland Security, at a minimum.

    (Thanks to Jeff Stein for all the quotes from his April 2009 scoop, linked in Shorrock’s article.)

  13. conradcelledge says:

    So what do the people who elected Mrs. Newsweek think of all of this. Need a campaign slogan? How about: “killing” its not just about the money anymore.

  14. BMcGarth says:

    Ah!Ah! America & Americans being screwed again.

    Jane Harman has to go folks.So let’s get this straight,her husband’s company(Intelligence industry) was making deals like fish out of water with DOD when she was chair of the House intelligence committee ?

    And Maxine Waters is being charged with ethics violations cuz she inquired about a bailout for a bank that her husband sits on the board….Ah! yeah.

    California progressives Feinstein is up for re-election in 2012,you may want to start getting a good progressive to replace this FauxNews Democrat(Feinstein).it’s never to early to get rid of rich people who disdain poor people.

    • bluewombat says:

      California progressives Feinstein is up for re-election in 2012,you may want to start getting a good progressive to replace this FauxNews Democrat

      Ordinarily I don’t get involved much in Democratic Party politics anymore, but if there’s a good progressive challenging Feinstein, I’ll work my tail off for them.

  15. hackworth1 says:

    Self-funded Billionaire Jeff Green is slamming Kendrick Meek for his role in his mother’s contractor/Cadillac payola. Print ad mail pieces and tv ads.

    Jane Harmon could be thusly clobbered by a primary challenger. She and Feinstein and their husbands reek of self-interested payola corruption.

    • dakine01 says:

      For the record, Greene is no great shakes either, having run as a Republican for a CD in California and as one of the folks who worked with John Paulson on the shorting CDS (Paulson of the Goldman Sachs “let me create a CDS that I can then bet short and against to make money” deals)

      • hackworth1 says:

        Yes, I’m hip to that cat. We got mostly stinkers all round here. I think this last round of attack ads are the knockout punch for Meeks. Meeks isn’t hitting back. In November, I think Crist will win.

        There’s so much corruption around Feinstein and Harmon, they could lose to a monied opponent. All one needs to do to them is reveal some of the truth about them.

  16. Adam503 says:

    Seems to me, treason charges against people who outsourced top secret intelligence information to multi-national corporations with HQs in foreign countries is a real easy treason case to make.

    I know whatever Halliburton is called today… that entity’s HQ is not in the US. Outsourcing top secret CIA info from Langley to a Corporation with a foreign country HQ is a slam-dunk treason prosecution. Easier than Falcon/Snowman spy was.

  17. Teddy Partridge says:


    This is not par for the course in a democracy, our democracy.

    These women are enriching themselves and their husbands through their work ‘representing’ us, and it must stop. Surely there’s something here that might interest Porter Goss, Pelosi’s appointee to head the revamped in-house Investigate Black Congresspersons agency….

  18. Teddy Partridge says:

    Wait, he bought Newsweek for a dollar? Why didn’t WE buy Newsweek?

    If only for the look on Jonathan Alter’s face….

  19. papau says:

    Not much new here actually – except the extent of the conflict.

    Ike came in with Dulles “outsourcing” parts of Intel (one of my employments was with Ike’s and Reagan’s buddy General Olmstead’s “Investment Bank” that seemed to have solid CIA connections did indeed provide “flagging service” to the world’s shipping for the government of Liberia – it was assumed CIA flaging was done there). What is new is the size of the CIA as world power that protects corporations – mostly those that claim at least some American identity. It is the outsourcing of tasks that can be done more cheaply by military recruits (The Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) is a staff corps of the United States Navy who are professional engineers and architects, acquisitions specialists and Seabees – for example – plus just using privates to do labor) that is new. It is a Reagan/Bush/ (and Clinton-Obama) rip-off permitted so we can say the size of the military in manpower, and the Federal workforce headcount, are lower than the reality that we pay for.

    The somebody has an in, and somebody gets rich, and it is secret stuff does not grab me as all that new – or stoppable. But we sure can save some money by cutting back on outsourcing that is not done so as to be secret.

    • Adam503 says:

      Public infrastructure has been getting built by military engineers since the birth of engineering. Military engineers have to build something to learn their craft. You have to have people who know how to get things like runways built really fast. They always have built public works during peacetime. It’s that or they build unneeded pontoon bridges to nowhere “as an exercise” that get destroyed the next day by demolitions officers the next day “as an exercise.”

  20. TheCallUp says:

    [Yes, it did. It was unnecessary]

    Wow, did my comment …. get censored out?

    Considering that Harman was caught red-handed consorting with/cutting deals with Israeli agents, and considering that the word ‘Islamo-Fascism’ was coined by the the likes of the Zuckermans and Harmans and Kristols — to censor my comment seems a bit over reaching.

    • TheCallUp says:

      Unnecessary? MY ASS! It is absolutely crucial to our democracy to fully understand who buys our private news sources — what their belief system is — so that we may understand better how they intend to disseminate our ‘news’ (with their own slant) for our consumption.

      I wish the mods would identify themselves so that they themselves were held to some accountability around here.

        • TheCallUp says:

          It’s not about me giving it a rest. I’m merely defending my original comment, because it is of crucial importance to everyone on the Left.

          If you had followed closely the Jane Harman spy story ( here’s Glenn Greenwald’s coverage of the debacle) you’d be as appalled as I am to learn that this treasonous figure is about to own one of the largest US news magazines in circulation.

          And Newsweek’s biggest competitor happens to be U.S. News and World Report (owned by uber-Zio-Zealot Mortimer Zuckerman).

          And if my use of the term ‘Zio-fascist’ offended you, consider that the people I’m addressing here are the very ones who coined the term ‘Islamo-Fascism’ to try and turn Americans against the Muslim world.

          Anyway you look at it, my comment was not only appropriate, it was important.