Tuesday, April 28, 2009

AIPAC and Jane Harman

On April 19, CQ Politics (CQpolitics.com) reported that Representative Jane Harman, of Los Angeles, the then-senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, and one of the most zealous promoters of Congressional approval for the Bush Administration’s wiretapping, was caught on a wiretap herself. The 2005 tap, by the National Security Agency, overheard Harman assuring a suspected Israeli agent of her agreement to “lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two former officials of AIPAC” (the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee). The alleged Israeli agent wanted Harman to use her influence with Attorney General Gonzales to reduce the charges against the AIPAC officials to “lesser felonies.” As a quid pro quo, the agent for Israel promised AIPAC’S help in getting Harman the post she hungered for: Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

The accounts were confirmed by three sources in intelligence, according to CQ. The sources also confirmed that Harman hung up the phone with these words: “This conversation doesn’t exist.” The reports alleged as well that Justice Department officials, after hearing this evidence, actually concluded that Harman had committed a crime, and had decided to launch an FBI investigation against her. However, the probe was aborted by Attorney General Gonzales at the last minute because “he needed Harman’s help defending the administration’s warrantless wiretap program,” which we in fact know Harman provided on December 21, 2005, at a moment of intense criticism of the wiretaps. “I believe it [warrantless wiretapping] essential to U.S. national security,” she said, “and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities.” She is also said to have been instrumental in persuading the New York Times to delay publishing the wiretap story until after the 2004 elections.

As it turned out, Harman was passed over for the chairmanship she so lusted after by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this despite the lobbying of her, Pelosi, by the pro-Israel lobbyists and the ample funds they are known to provide the Speaker. Pelosi gave the job to Congressman Silvestre Reyes of Texas instead.

Now let’s think about this. Here we have a United States Congresswoman, one of her party’s highest-ranking officials, agreeing to try to intervene with the Department of Justice in an ongoing federal case of conspiracy against the government she has sworn to uphold (the U.S. one). That government had charged Steve Rosen, the former official of AIPAC, with two counts of “conspiring to communicate, and communicating national defense information” to persons who shouldn’t have had it, presumably Israeli officials or agents. His confederate, Keith Weissman, was also charged with conspiracy. Both were dismissed but clearly not forgotten by AIPAC, for five months after they were charged, AIPAC was intervening with Representative Harman on their behalf. And she apparently agreed to help.

This stinks on several levels. First of all, what is AIPAC, working on behalf of a nation which is allegedly our closest ally, Israel, doing spying on the United States government, allegedly its closest ally? Why is it handing secret defense information to Israel? Is it not enough that AIPAC already controls most of the legislation concerning the Middle East through its lobbying efforts? That it manages to secure, year after year, more foreign aid for Israel—$3 billion each year—than any other nation in the world? That it manages to browbeat and bully the craven members of Congress to pass resolution after resolution approving of the international crimes Israel commits with that mostly military aid? But that apparently is not enough. It apparently feels so great a need to obtain secret information about U.S. national defense that it resorts to spying. And when it gets caught, it goes to one of its most reliable Congressional backers—Representative Jane Harman—and asks her to intervene on behalf of its spies. And she agrees! And gets away with it because the then-head of what had become Bush’s Department of In-Justice nixes a criminal investigation into her perfidy because he needs her support for the White House’s wiretapping program! No matter that her position forces her into what to anyone else would be an agonizing about-face—about how she’s s-o-o-o-o disappointed in her country for spying on her! in what she now, after defending warrantless wiretapping and those who did it for years, has the nerve to call “a gross abuse of power.”

What words can be used for this? One former NSA official called it “the deepest kind of corruption”, meaning, I presume, both Harman’s agreement to intervene in an ongoing espionage case, and Attorney General Gonzales’ decision to quash the case against Harman for her intervention, and perhaps AIPAC’s attempt to corrupt not only American justice but a sitting Congresswoman as well. And, underlying it all, the root crime: espionage by Israel against its alleged benefactor, friend, and ally, the good old U. S. of A.

I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty sick of all this. I’m sick of Israel’s crimes being legitimized. I’m sick of AIPAC’s power, including the power of the American Jewish lobby, over the foreign policy of this country. I’m sick of the Congress of the United States being so corrupt that it can be bought by lobbies like this. In fact, I think it’s time to start calling this official corruption what it is: treason. When elected officials of our government apparently are ready to countenance any crime—both internationally and against itself—by agents of another government, then it’s time to begin looking at who benefits and how. It’s time to begin investigating what used to be called “dual loyalties.” It’s time to start finding out why more hell isn’t being raised about the people’s elected representatives openly and unabashedly pledging their fealty, perhaps their primary fealty, to a foreign government. Especially when the actions of that government not only do NOT converge with our own best interests, but have brought down upon our government and our people the condemnation and militance and wrath of half the globe. I think it’s time to start asking questions about that; time to start cleaning house.

Lawrence DiStasi

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