An old story got a new twist as a report revealed that the National Security Agency recorded Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., agreeing to help two former American Israel Public Affairs Committee officials who were facing espionage charges, according to a report in CQ Politics.
Harman, D-Calif., was recorded telling a suspected Israeli agent that she would “waddle into” the case by lobbying Justice Department officials, “if you think that would help,” according to the report.
She reportedly agreed to try to get the U.S. Justice Department to reduce the charges against the AIPAC officials in return for the suspected agent lobbying Nancy Pelosi, currently Speaker of the House of Representatives, to make Harman chairman of the House Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections.
Harman is said to have ended the telephone call by saying: “This conversation doesn’t exist.”
First reported by Time magazine in 2006, the new angle is word of the taping.
In a statement to CQ, Harman called the story “an outrageous and recycled canard” with “no basis in fact.” In another statement, Harman expressed “concern” that “the Bush Administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional Intelligence Committees.”
She added that the CQ story “recycles three-year-old discredited reporting of largely un-sourced material,” according to a report in the Hill.
The CQ report furthers allege that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales nixed the probe because the Bush administration needed Harman to help defend it from criticism over the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program.
Harman countered in her statement that her support for AIPAC is well known, but that the rest of the story is groundless.
“Congresswoman Harman has never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former AIPAC employees and the department has never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation,” the Harman statement said.
For its part, AIPAC called the notion of a quid pro quo as “absurd.”
“AIPAC would never engage in a quid pro quo on a federal investigation or any other federal matter. That is absurd,” said AIPAC spokesman Patrick Dorton, according to the Hill.
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