Thursday, April 23, 2009

Is Jane Harman Telling the Truth? And Why It's Important To Know

David Corn

It sure looked (or sounded), at least for a moment, that NPR host Robert Siegel had caught embattled Rep. Jane Harman in a contradiction.

The California Democrat went on "All things Considered" on Tuesday as part of a PR offensive, in which she was reacting to CQ's story reporting she had been captured on an NSA intercept telling a suspected Israeli agent she would try to reduce the espionage-related charges for two AIPAC officials, possibly in return for help in her bid to become chair of the House intelligence committee.

Harman has called for the release of the NSA intercepts and has decried such wiretapping as a "gross" abuse--despite the fact she has been a major congressional defender of the Bush administration's warantless wiretap program. But she has not publicly said who was the other party in this particular conversation. In fact, she has said she cannot recall such a call. She told Siegel:

We don't know if there was a phone call. These are three unnamed sources, former and present national security officials, who are allegedly selectively leaking information about a phone call or phone calls that may or may not have taken place. I have to say I am outraged that I may have been wiretapped by my government in 2005 or 2006 while I was ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee.

She also said: " No. I can't recall with any specificity a conversation I may have had four years ago."

Yet later in the interview, she said, "The person I was talking to was an American citizen." Wait a minute. She cannot recall the conversation, but she knows the person was an American? Siegel is sharp, and he pounced on this:

MR. SIEGEL: But you are saying that you know it was an American citizen. So that would suggest that you know that there was a -
REP. HARMAN: Well, I know that anyone I would have talked to about, you know, the AIPAC prosecution would have been an American citizen. I didn't talk to some foreigner about it.....................................................

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