No one could have predicted that Jane Harman would get caught on tape promising favors to AIPAC:
Harman was recorded saying she would “waddle into” the AIPAC case “if you think it’ll make a difference,” according to two former senior national security officials familiar with the NSA transcript.
In exchange for Harman’s help, the sources said, the suspected Israeli agent pledged to help lobby Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., then-House minority leader, to appoint Harman chair of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections, which the Democrats were heavily favored to win.
It’s a kooky story — it was one of those controversial (read: probably illegal) it was some kind of NSA wiretap (I don’t know how permission to tap was granted, if at all) and Gonzo supposedly used this to blackmail Harman into supporting his wiretap program.
JMM and other people who understand all this better than I do have more on this.
The whole thing makes me laugh: sleazy “liberal hawk” Congresswoman gets wiretapped and then blackmailed by an even sleazier Attorney General. It’s the perfect story for our times, in many ways.
And I think we can all agree: shame on Nancy Pelosi for not letting Harman chair the Intelligence Committee. I’m fairly certain there’s a great deal of anti-Semitism at the root of all this.
I just hope that neither Harman nor Gonzo is prosecuted for any of this. Obama has so much on his plate already.
Update. I’m trying to understand the nature of the wiretap. The article states that “Then-CIA Director Porter J. Goss reviewed the Harman transcript and signed off on the Justice Department’s FISA application” so FISA wasn’t bypassed entirely. It’s also not clear to me why the call was wiretapped in the first place. I’m hoping someone who knows more about this will sort this out later. It’s possible that this is an example of the worst sort of wiretapping abuse, but it’s possible that it’s something else entirely. I can’t tell.
Updated update. Matt Yglesias makes the key point:
And of course it further confirms the point that wide-net surveillance authority is as likely to be used and abused for domestic political purposes as for counterterrorism.
Update update update: Marcy Wheeler says the wiretap was totally legit:
The CQ story makes it clear that this wiretap was court approved and was directed not at Harman, but at the suspected Israeli spy whom she was talking to.[….]
In other words, the investigation–and the wiretaps–were the classic, proper use of FISA: for an intelligence investigation targeting suspected agents of a foreign power operating in the US. And it goes without saying that we all better hope the NSA listens closely to conversations between powerful members of Congress and suspected spies, and that when they make quid pro quo deals, that conversation gets looked at much more closely. This was a totally proper use of NSA wiretaps.