FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jane Harman and Israeli Spying

by ALISON WEIR

It is astounding to find that one of the handful of prospects being floated to become CIA director following the fall of General David Petraeus is a person reportedly implicated in a 2005 Israeli spy scandal.

CNNPolitico, and others have all listed former Congresswoman Jane Harman as a potential new CIA head. Oddly, however, none have mentioned reports in 2006 and again in 2009 that an NSA wiretap in 2005 had picked up Harman promising a suspected Israeli agent that she would aid people indicted for espionage on behalf of Israel.

According to reports, Harman allegedly told the Israeli agent that she would lobby the Justice Department to reduce espionage-related charges against two top officials for the powerful Israel lobby organization, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

In return, the suspected Israeli agent (who may have been a dual-citizen American) reportedly pledged to help lobby for Harman to become chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Harman was already the ranking Democrat on the committee.

At the end of the conversation, Harman reportedly said: “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

The two AIPAC officials had been indicted for illegally obtaining classified documents about Iran and passing these on to Israel. They also gave them to prominent Washington Post journalist Glenn Kessler, whose speaker bio lists three topics: “Global Affairs, Jewish Interest, Middle East Issues.”

One of the indicted AIPAC officials has since defended himself by stating that his actions were routine for AIPAC – that AIPAC staffers regularly obtain and hand on classified U.S. information to Israel and others.

AIPAC, worried at public exposure caused by the indictments, fired the two men. Subsequent lawsuits over their firing provided considerable information, from sleazy details about AIPAC high officials to the fact that dozens of AIPAC donors had provided monetary assistance to the two men, despite evidence that they had leaked classified U.S. documents to a foreign country.

Among these donors were Slim-Fast billionaire Daniel Abraham, philanthropist Lynn Schusterman, and Haim Saban, an Israeli-American who is one of the major donors to Democratic candidates. Saban, who is close to Harman, says his “greatest concern is to protect Israel.”  (His wife was recently nominated to be US ambassador to the UN.)

Harman, who frequently speaks at AIPAC events, is widely known for her strong advocacy for Israel and of Middle East wars on behalf of it.

She backed the attack on Iraq and now similarly maintains that Iran is a threat to Americans, despite the fact that Iraqquickly turned into a tragic, unnecessary, and disastrously costly debacle; that Iraq had none of the weapons of mass destruction that had been claimed; and that current claims against Iran are similarly tenuous.

The Jewish Forward calls her a “pro-Israel stalwart,” and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) reports, “Harman is beloved by the pro-Israel lobby and is a sure-bet appearance at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference.”

According to Open Secrets, Harman was one of the top recipients of pro-Israel campaign donations.

 JTA reported that her departure from Congress in 20011, “earned her an unusually effusive statement of regret from AIPAC director Howard Kohr.”

Like AIPAC, Harman currently pushes the alleged need, often promoted by flawed media reports, for the U.S. to address what she claims is Iran’s development of nuclear weapons, despite the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies continue to find that Iran is actually not developing them. (She also neglects to mention that Israel has a stockpile of nuclear weapons and has refused to sign the nonproliferation treaty).

In her nine terms in Congress, Harman focused on military and security affairs and served on all the major security committees: six years on Armed Services, eight years on Intelligence, and four on Homeland Security.

Harman, who was married to billionaire Sidney Harman, owner of Newsweek, until his death last year, was listed as the second-richest member in congress.

Harman resigned from Congress in 20011 to head up the Washington DC Woodrow Wilson Center, part of theSmithsonian. The Wilson Center is listed as the 16th most powerful think tank in the world.

Like Harman, the longtime chair of the Wilson Center, Joseph B. Gildenhorn, is extremely close to Israel. He endowed theInstitute for Israel Studies at the University of Maryland and may at one point have been an AIPAC board member. Wilson Co-chair Sander R. Gerber has been an AIPAC board member for many years.

In explaining her decision to leave Congress in order to direct the Wilson Center, Harman said: “Serving at its helm provides unique opportunities to involve the House and Senate, top experts and world leaders in ‘great debates’ about the most pressing foreign and domestic policy matters.”

While Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call contains an article in which Harman denies the espionage-related reports, the publication seems to have taken down the report to which Harman was responding and to which numerous other articleslink: “Sources: Wiretap Recorded Rep. Harman Promising to Intervene for AIPAC,” by Jeff Stein, Congressional Quarterly, April 19, 2009. (It’s unclear whether the removal of Stein’s article is related to the fact that three months after the story broke, Congressional Quarterly was bought by the Economist Group.)

In the report, investigative journalist Jeff Stein provided additional details about the incident and explained that whether or not Harman delivered on her promise (she did not attain her desired chairmanship), the making of the promise was sufficient to constitute, in legal terms, a “completed crime.”

Despite considerable outcry and calls for a Justice Department investigation, Harman eluded prosecution, the expected full investigation of the powerful southern California Democrat never happened, and Harman’s allegedly subversive actions seem to have dropped from sight.

While former Petraeus deputy (and currently acting director) Michael J. Morell seems to be the current frontrunner for CIA head, Harman and others are reported to still be in the running.  Also, Morell could prove to be a temporary choice to prevent a lapse in leadership while the long-term director is chosen.

If Harman does becomes CIA director, her appointment would no doubt be greeted with glee by the Israeli government. Whether or not Harman made treasonous promises to an Israeli agent, there is no doubt that she is a committed advocate for the Israeli regime.

Americans, on the other hand, might have less reason for joy.

* * *

For more information on the incident, see TPMSalonTimeStephen Walt, the New York TimesAntiwar.com and C&L.

For more information on the AIPAC case, see the investigative work by Grant Smith at the Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy – IRmep.

For more information on the pro-Israel lobby, see Introduction to the Israel Lobby by the Council for the National Interest.

#

Alison Weir is executive director of If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest.

 

 

Alison Weir is executive director of  If Americans Knew and president of the Council for the National Interest. An excerpt of her book was published in the March 21-23, 2014 issue of CounterPunch. Upcoming book talks can be seen on the book’s website.

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
July 29, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Obama Said Hillary will Continue His Legacy and Indeed She Will!
Jeffrey St. Clair
She Stoops to Conquer: Notes From the Democratic Convention
Rob Urie
Long Live the Queen of Chaos
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Evolution of Capitalism, Escalation of Imperialism
Margot Kidder
My Fellow Americans: We Are Fools
Phillip Kim et al.
Open Letter to Bernie Sanders from Former Campaign Staffers
Ralph Nader
Hillary’s Convention Con
Lewis Evans
Executing Children Won’t Save the Tiger or the Rhino
Vijay Prashad
The Iraq War: a Story of Deceit
Chris Odinet
It Wasn’t Just the Baton Rouge Police Who Killed Alton Sterling
Brian Cloughley
Could Trump be Good for Peace?
Patrick Timmons
Racism, Freedom of Expression and the Prohibition of Guns at Universities in Texas
Gary Leupp
The Coming Crisis in U.S.-Turkey Relations
Pepe Escobar
Is War Inevitable in the South China Sea?
Norman Pollack
Clinton Incorruptible: An Ideological Contrivance
Robert Fantina
The Time for Third Parties is Now!
Andre Vltchek
Like Trump, Hitler Also Liked His “Small People”
Serge Halimi
Provoking Russia
David Rovics
The Republicans and Democrats Have Now Switched Places
Andrew Stewart
Countering The Nader Baiter Mythology
Rev. William Alberts
“Law and Order:” Code words for White Lives Matter Most
Ron Jacobs
Something Besides Politics for Summer’s End
David Swanson
It’s Not the Economy, Stupid
Erwan Castel
A Faith that Lifts Barricades: The Ukraine Government Bows and the Ultra-Nationalists are Furious
Steve Horn
Did Industry Ties Lead Democratic Party Platform Committee to Nix Fracking Ban?
Robert Fisk
How to Understand the Beheading of a French Priest
Colin Todhunter
Sugar-Coated Lies: How The Food Lobby Destroys Health In The EU
Franklin Lamb
“Don’t Cry For Us Syria … The Truth is We Shall Never Leave You!”
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
The Artistic Representation of War and Peace, Politics and the Global Crisis
Frederick B. Hudson
Well Fed, Bill?
Harvey Wasserman
NY Times Pushes Nukes While Claiming Renewables Fail to Fight Climate Change
Elliot Sperber
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Uri Avnery
The Orange Man: Trump and the Middle East
Marjorie Cohn
The Content of Trump’s Character
Missy Comley Beattie
Pick Your Poison
Kathleen Wallace
Feel the About Turn
Joseph Grosso
Serving The Grid: Urban Planning in New York
John Repp
Real Cooperation with Nations Is the Best Survival Tactic
Binoy Kampmark
The Scourge of Youth Detention: The Northern Territory, Torture, and Australia’s Detention Disease
Kim Nicolini
Rain the Color Blue with a Little Red In It
Cesar Chelala
Gang Violence Rages Across Central America
Tom H. Hastings
Africa/America
Robert Koehler
Slavery, War and Presidential Politics
Charles R. Larson
Review: B. George’s “The Death of Rex Ndongo”
July 28, 2016
Paul Street
Politician Speak at the DNC
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail