By Jim Smith
Jane Harman, our Congressional representative, is in trouble. Before you rush off to save her, consider this. She was caught on a wiretap agreeing to try to get espionage charges reduced for two foreign agents. A 12-year prison sentence has already been handed down for a former Defense Intelligence Agency official, Lawrence Franklin, for turning over classified documents to the foreign agents.
This is not a new story. It first broke in 2006. But what is new is that actual transcripts of the conversations Jane had about this matter have surfaced. Also new is the revelation that Alberto Gonzales, Bush’s Attorney General, stepped in to quash a Department of Justice investigation into Harman’s role in the affair.
Harman has responded by going on the attack. The House intelligence maven, who knew about wholesale wiretapping of U.S. citizens by the Bush administration years before it became public is shocked – shocked I say – by the fact that she, a member of Congress, would be wiretapped. But it turns out that the wiretap wasn’t aimed at Harman, but at the suspected foreign agent with whom she was having the conversation. In addition, Harman says she didn’t actually do anything, which is more believable in her case.
The plot thickens because the country on whose behalf the alleged espionage was being done is Israel. And two of the spies, who have been indicted, were employees of American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which is probably the most powerful lobbying group on Capitol Hill.
According to informed sources, Harman agreed on tape to “waddle into” the AIPAC case, adding “if you think it’ll make a difference.” She ended the conversation after saying, “This conversation doesn’t exist,” How embarrassing for Harman that it was caught on tape.
Full disclosure requires that I state that I ran against Harman for Congress in 2006.
Needless to say, Harman, the wealthiest member of the U.S. Congress won big against my typical grassroots Peace and Freedom Party campaign (I did beat the Republican candidate in about half the Venice precincts.) I should also disclose that Harman is a member of the Trilateral Commission, which may be the organization that truly rules the world. She is also a leader of the “Blue Dog” caucus of Congressional Democrats. The “Blue Dogs” call themselves a “Coalition of Conservative Democrats.” In an earlier day, they most likely would have called themselves moderate Republicans.
How did someone so out of tune with Venice’s mixture of liberals, progressives and radicals become our Congressperson? It’s pure and simple gerrymandering. The South Bay is full of Republican voters who used to make the seat a toss-up. When the Democratic majority redistricted California, they threw in Venice and San Pedro, both of which are full of Democrats. Ever since, Harman has waltzed to victory.
On Oct. 20, 2006, Time magazine broke the story on its website of Harman’s involvement in the case, and that a Department of Justice investigation was beginning (later to be stopped by Gonzales). The article also mentioned that Harman had retained attorney Ted Olsen to represent her. Olsen previously had been George Bush’s lawyer in the disputed Florida election of 2000, and was probably the person who was most responsible for putting Bush in the White House instead of Al Gore.
Two days after the news broke, Harman and I, along with the Republican and Libertarian candidates met for our one and only debate. While I concentrated on the war, health care and other issues including the Harman family’s sweatshops in Mexico, I did raise the DOJ investigation twice. Harman denied it was happening on one occasion (she must have talked to Gonzales) and ignored it the other time. However, she did appear very nervous and near the end of the debate seemed to be on the verge of tears. See the highlights on Google Video at <http://tinyurl.com/d64y7c>.
At the time, I naively believed Harman had reached the end of her political career. Perhaps this time around. There are calls for an inquiry by the Office of Congressional Ethics and for a real investigation by the Justice Department. There all already demands for her resignation. Will Jane Harman bounce back once again? With AIPAC in her corner, anything is possible. If she makes it to the 2010 election, then it will be up to the voters in Venice and points south to render a final judgement on our very own Blue Dog.