Monday, April 20, 2009

Calamity Jane

Remember how Speaker Nancy Pelosi did not want California Democrat Jane Harman to become head of the House Intelligence Committee after the 2006 mid-term elections? Well, Jeff Stein of Congressional Quarterly reported yesterday that Harman,
“was overheard on an NSA wiretap telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department reduce espionage-related charges against two officials of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, the most powerful pro-Israel organization in Washington.

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.

Seemingly wary of what she had just agreed to, according to an official who read the NSA transcript, Harman hung up after saying, 'This conversation doesn't exist.’"
These allegations with respect to AIPAC’s lobbying efforts and Harman are not new. Stein’s reporting of the NSA wiretap however adds an entirely new wrinkle. Even more damning is Stein’s report that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales dropped the Justice Department’s investigation of Harman so the Democrat would help defend the Bush Administration’s warrantless wiretapping program just prior to the New York Times breaking the story.

Harman’s office has denied the allegations. Obviously, the Justice Department must thoroughly investigate the Harman/AIPAC connection as well as Alberto Gonzales’s conduct in this matter. Once again we learn why Alberto Gonzales is arguably the worst public servant in the history of America’s executive branch.

With respect to Israeli espionage, I’ve never been judgmental of any country, including ours, for spying on either friends or foes. That is the real world. In the game of nations, governments frequently conduct intelligence operations to influence the politics of “friends” and rival states in accordance with their interests. Israel is a practitioner of this as is the United States, China, Russia, Iran, India and so forth.

However, this matter once again illustrates the need for a strong political counterweight to AIPAC’s disproportionate influence on American politics and policies. Liberal Jewish Americans like myself who are critical of Israel’s immoral and dangerous policies must be at the forefront of that political counterweight to provide the necessary cover. Delusional zealots in America and Israel have engaged in immoral and self-destructive policies. As someone who cares about Israel’s future as well as their national character, I hope this espionage case serves as a wakeup call.

In the meantime, Attorney General Eric Holder needs to demonstrate respect for the law and convene a grand jury forthwith for both Jane Harman and Alberto Gonzales. Given AIPAC’s disproportionate influence in Washington it seems likely neither Harman nor Gonzales are alone with their disregard for the law when it comes to Israel. I don’t blame Israel or AIPAC for exploiting their influence. Any nation would do the same with that sort of leverage.

I blame our political system that allows it to flourish. Prosecuting offenders such as Harman will hopefully have a “chilling effect” on politicians from betraying American interests to AIPAC in the future. As for Gonzales, he should have been frog marched years ago.

1 comment:

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