Jeremy Scahill - April 20, 2009
This is a huge story: Representative Jane Harman, a hawkish, influential “Blue Dog” Democrat “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,” according to a report from CQ Politics:
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.”
The case, known as the AIPAC espionage scandal centers around allegations that at least two AIPAC staff members passed sensitive US intelligence on Iran, provided by Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin, to Israel. In early 2006, Franklin pled guilty to espionage-related charges and was sentenced to 13 years in prison. The case against two indicted AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman, is ongoing.