Jeff Stein of CQ.com reported on Sunday evening that the National Security Agency had picked up a telephone conversation by Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) with a suspected spy for Israel. It is alleged that in the conversation, the spy urged Harman to intervene to stop the prosecution for espionage of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two career lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who headed up its Middle East bureau. The Israeli agent promised to lobby Pelosi to get Harman the chairmanship of the House Intelligence committee, but appears to have gone too far in doing so.
You see, for someone to call Harman and ask her to weigh in with the Justice Department on behalf of Rosen and Weissman is not illegal. But once she was offered a position, the conversation was suddenly about a bribe. At that point she is said to have hung up after asserting “This conversation never happened.”
However, the hang-up was not a sign that she was uninterested in the proffered deal. Israel lobbies did fundraising for Nancy Pelosi in 2006 in hopes of getting Harman the chairmanship.
(Note that an intelligence operative is a “field officer,” while an “agent” is the local person that is recruited to do things for the field officer. Thus, an American run by Mossad would be an Israeli “agent” despite his or her nationality, just as an American run by Russian intelligence, FSB, would be a Russian agent.)
Two things here. It should be remembered that this whole affair has been about getting up a war on Iran. That was the point of Franklin leaking to Rosen and Weissman in the first place. Someone should go back through Harman’s statements on Iran.
Second, the transcript should be released and if it is as alleged, Harman must resign. Congress declares wars or implicitly authorizes them. American soldiers have a right to know that the representatives who send them to war are doing so on behalf of US interests. And that congressional intelligence reports are not plants by a foreign intelligence service.
Let us just stop and review what is being alleged, and to underline what it means for US security and policy.
The US is spied on, and a classified Pentagon document is passed to the Israeli embassy by AIPAC officials. They are caught because the FBI had them under surveillance. Apparently the FBI is one of the few US government institutions that is not corrupt on the issue of foreign influence on US institutions and policy. Then when the two AIPAC spies are indicted, a Mossad agent attempts to derail the prosecution by suborning a member of Congress and promising her the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.
Harman is denying it all, of course. But then so did Rosen and Weissman deny it all (or allege that the lack of a US official secrets act means that their passing of a classified Pentagon document to a Mossad agent was not in fact treason or illegal). Harman’s denial is clever, since the NSA wiretap is presumably classified, and so she can’t be contradicted until the document is released.
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