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Rep. Harman Conspires With ‘Israeli Agent’ to Aid Alleged Aipac Spies

Sometimes I’m really jealous of Phil Weiss.  Though we have a different take on lots of issues related to Jewish identity we often comment on the same or similar aspects of the Israeli-Arab conflict.  And often he gets there first, which is what a good journalist does.

This happened yesterday when he caught the amazing Congressional Quarterly expose of Rep. Jane Harman captured red-handed on an NSA wiretap colluding with an Israeli “agent” to get a reprieve for alleged Aipac spies, Keith Weissman and Steve Rosen.  The quid pro quo for Harman was the agent would arrange for powerful people to put in a good word for her with Nancy Pelosi in Harman’s campaign to become chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Though Harman vehemently denies the charges, it’s hard to argue with the supporting circumstantial evidence.  In 2006, I reported that Haim Saban, a wealthy pro-Israel Democratic donor did precisely what Harman had requested from the Israeli agent.  According to the N.Y. Times, he threatened to withdraw all financial support for Pelosi unless she named Harman chair of the committee.  No wonder Pelosi didn’t take kindly to being swatted around.

She was so ticked off by the blitz that it backfired and she put Harman in a deep freeze.  The latter never got the gold prize she’d sought.  In addition, the NSA had informed Pelosi of the wiretap and its contents so the House Speaker probably already knew about Harman’s collusion; and it couldn’t have made her happy to say the least.

When the NSA presented the evidence to Justice there was a debate about whether to pursue an investigation against Harman.  Ultimately, Alberto Gonzales decided not to do so.  But the reason why is tantalizing.  The N.Y. Times NSA warrantless wiretapping story was about the break and the Bushites needed every hand on deck.  Gonzales knew (how?) that Harman could be expected to support the Administration position and indeed she did so.  And Helena Cobban notes it was the very same NSA which she defended so vociferously which captured her perfidy.  Ah, delicious irony!

So the question becomes: how did Gonzales know this?  Did he or anyone associated with the administration contact Harman directly and ask for the NSA support as a quid pro quo for dropping the investigation?

The CQ story reveals another bombshell that will not make Bill Keller and N.Y. Times senior editors look very good.  When the Times originally planned to publish the NSA wiretap story just before the 2004 election, guess which senior House Democrat lobbied them not to publish?  You guessed it.  So we must ask why in God’s name did the Time sit on this story for two entire years on the word of a compromised Aipac stooge like Harman?  Bill Keller claims in today’s Times that she wasn’t a factor in his decision to delay publication:

“She did not speak to me,” Mr. Keller said, “and I don’t remember her being a significant factor in my decision.”

Yet the fact that he did exactly as she suggested might lead one to believe otherwise.

The ironies and juiciness of this story are beyond measure.  Though the NSA is claiming the wiretap which produced this material was authorized and not warrantless (can we believe anything they tell us anyway?), isn’t it ironic that the Patriot Act may’ve made a victim of a powerful member of the House intelligence establishment?  I thought the NSA’s mission was to go after Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorists.  Though Harman apparently wasn’t a target of the NSA investigation (apparently the Israeli agent was), isn’t it also ironic that an intelligence maven would get caught like this with her panties down.  Shouldn’t someone like Harman have known better than to consort with Israeli agents of influence?

I haven’t heard any word on the identity of the Israeli “agent” who colluded with Harman.  But I have one possible nominee.  After Weissman and Rosen were arrested, an Israeli embassy official, Naor Gilon, beat a hasty retreat from these shores.  It quickly became clear that Gilon was the person to whom Rosen and Weissman intended to give Larry Franklin’s purloined top secret documents.  So could Gilon be the alleged agent?  And isn’t it possible that NSA wiretapping of Gilon may’ve been what led the government to the Weissman/Rosen/Franklin spy nest?

Avigdor Lieberman–irony of ironies–has just named the very same Gilon as his number two at the foreign ministry.  In Israel, if you successfully spy on the U.S. you’re rewarded with plum assignments and cabinet jobs.  I’m fairly certain that this is also Lieberman’s way of tweaking Obama, saying “you think you’re going to isolate me?  I’ll show you.  I’ll make my right hand man someone who has made a fool out of your government.”  It’s twisted, but knowing how Yvet thinks–entirely possible.

Ron Kampeas and others speculate, based on the original Time Magazine report on this story back in 2006, that Haim Saban may’ve been both the individual who lobbied Pelosi on Harman’s behalf AND that the suspected Israeli agent whom the NSA was wiretapping.  Given that Saban is a U.S. citizen, I’m not sure why the NSA would be wiretapping him.  Wouldn’t this be something the FBI should be doing since they’re the domestic intelligence agency?  Unless Saban is being investigated for his collusion with Israeli agents to influence U.S. policy or steal government documents, etc.

Returning to Harman, let’s not forget that she is one the greatest beneficiaries of the largess of Aipac’s donor community and received more funding than almost any other House member from pro-Israel PACs.  She is Aipac’s go-to gal on the Hill.  A veritable pro-Israel martinet.

How does all this effect the Rosen Weissman trial, which was thought by many to have been on its last legs given the judge’s tough anti-government rulings?  Perhaps it will give the judge pause.  One can only hope.  Those of us who know Aipac and what it’s capable of, understand that Rosen and Weissman were likely gaming the system in Israel’s favor.  This is true of Aipac’s impact on almost everything it does.

M.J. Rosenberg speculates on the motivation for leaking this story now.  He says that it may relate to the new Israeli rightist government and provide Obama with extra ammunition in his battle against it and the Israel lobby’s future rearguard attempts to derail U.S. Mideast peace efforts.  I’m not sure, but anything’s possible.

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{ 15 comments… add one }
  • Julian April 21, 2009, 4:09 AM

    Franklin never gave Rosen and Weissman any government documents. Rosen and Weissman never gave Israel any documents. What you allege that Rosen and Rosen were going to pass along secret documents to Israel is your own anti Israel fantasy.

    • Moje April 21, 2009, 7:14 AM

      Oh here we go, anything that damages Israel’s image is an anti-Israel fantasy isn’t it.

      “… Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman were fired from Aipac in March 2005 and indicted a few weeks later. They were charged with violating the World War I-era Espionage Act when they shared with colleagues, journalists and Israeli Embassy officials information about Iran and Iraq they had learned from talking to high-level United States policy makers… The trial of Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman seems on track to begin in June in Alexandria, Va.” – http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/us/politics/21harman.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

      In this case, you may be right Julian that secret documents being passed to Israel may be a fantasy, but what about non-documented intelligence? Intelligence can be passed on in other ways you know: secret phone calls, secret face-to-face meetings, morse code, secret smoke signals, that thing the guy at the airport does with his arms to guide planes around – but in secret obviously, secret go-betweens, secret nods to the guy sitting opposite you on a park bench, the list is endless.

      Anyway, the fact that the Times left out the key word: Allegedly, from the quote I mentioned says volumes.

      Perhaps next time Israeli intelligence can offer Representatives something more meaningful: “Give us Obama’s full Iran strategy for the next twelve months and we’ll let three tins of spaghetti in to Gaza… Okay, four.”

    • DICKERSON3870 April 22, 2009, 1:06 PM

      RE: “Franklin never gave Rosen and Weissman any government documents.”

      Rosen and Weissman were under surveillance in an ongoing investigation. After they met with Franklin, but before any documents were passed, someone ‘leaked’ info on the matter. Consequently, there was a story about it in the media (CBS) tipping off Rosen and Weissman. We will never know what Franklin might have passed to Rosen and Weissman had the leak not occurred and the ‘undercover’ investigation had been allowed to continue.

      SEE “Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Weissman

  • Crimson Ghost April 21, 2009, 6:34 AM

    Harman Scandal: All about War on Iran
    Jeff Stein of CQ.com reported on Sunday evening that the National Security Agency had picked up a telephone conversation by Representative Jane Harman (D-CA) with a suspected spy for Israel. It is alleged that in the conversation, the spy urged Harman to intervene to stop the prosecution for espionage of Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two career lobbyists for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who headed up its Middle East bureau. The Israeli agent promised to lobby Pelosi to get Harman the chairmanship of the House Intelligence committee, but appears to have gone too far in doing so.

    You see, for someone to call Harman and ask her to weigh in with the Justice Department on behalf of Rosen and Weissman is not illegal. But once she was offered a position, the conversation was suddenly about a bribe. At that point she is said to have hung up after asserting “This conversation never happened.”

    Israel lobbies did fundraising for Nancy Pelosi in 2006 in hopes of getting Harman the chairmanship.

    Two things here. It should be remembered that this whole affair has been about getting up a war on Iran. That was the point of Franklin leaking to Rosen and Weissman in the first place. Someone should go back through Harman’s statements on Iran.

    Second, the transcript should be released and if it is as alleged, Harman must resign. Congress declares wars or implicitly authorizes them. American soldiers have a right to know that the representatives who send them to war are doing so on behalf of US interests. And that congressional intelligence reports are not plants by a foreign intelligence service.

    Let us just stop and review what is being alleged, and to underline what it means for US security and policy.

    The US is spied on, and a classified Pentagon document is passed to the Israeli embassy by AIPAC officials. They are caught because the FBI had them under surveillance. Apparently the FBI is one of the few US government institutions that is not corrupt on the issue of foreign influence on US institutions and policy. Then when the two AIPAC spies are indicted, a Mossad agent attempts to derail the prosecution by suborning a member of Congress and promising her the chairmanship of the Intelligence Committee.

    Harman is denying it all, of course. But then so did Rosen and Weissman deny it all (or allege that the lack of a US official secrets act means that their passing of a classified Pentagon document to a Mossad agent was not in fact treason or illegal). Harman’s denial is clever, since the NSA wiretap is presumably classified, and so she can’t be contradicted until the document is released.

    posted by Juan Cole @ 4/21/2009 12:25:00 AM

  • Julian April 21, 2009, 7:20 AM

    What Pentagon document? Rosen and Weiss are not charged with passing a Pentagon document to a Mossad agent. Do you guys ever read the case?
    http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/aipac/rosen021709.pdf
    The judge makes it clear that the only document received by Rosen and Weissman was written by Franklin and faxed to Rosen.

    • Moje April 21, 2009, 8:07 AM

      The charges are:

      Conspiracy to transmit information relating to national defense, or NDI (information that is closely held by the United States and that if disclosed would be potentially damaging to the United States or useful to an enemy of the United States), to those not entitled to receive it;

      Communicating NDI to those not entitled to receive it;

      Conspiracy to communicate classified information to an agent of a foreign government.

      The fact that you’re arguing here that “Rosen and Weiss are not charged with passing a Pentagon document to a Mossad agent” and that accusing them of such is tantamount to anti-Israel fantasy is way, way beyond laughable and does not, in any way, lessen the charges or more importantly the gravity of them.

      Sure, it may upset you when the charges against Rosen and Weissman are distorted, but that does not excuse the fact that a) the charges are real; b) they are criminals; c) there is a legitimate case underway against them; and d) Rosen, Weissman, Franklin et al are a bunch of cowardly traitors that manipulated the US democratic process to gain what they could from it. Boo-fucking-hoo for you.

    • Richard Silverstein April 21, 2009, 12:23 PM

      Who did Franklin work for? The Interior Dept? He worked for the Pentagon, hence it was a Pentagon document. Or are you claiming he was passing them his personal laundry or shopping list?

    • DICKERSON3870 April 22, 2009, 1:10 PM

      RE: “The judge makes it clear that the only document received by Rosen and Weissman was written by Franklin and faxed to Rosen.”

      MY COMMENT: Rosen and Weissman were under surveillance in an ongoing investigation. After they met with Franklin, but before any documents were passed, someone ‘leaked’ info on the matter. Consequently, there was a story about it in the media (CBS) tipping off Rosen and Weissman. We will never know what Franklin might have passed to Rosen and Weissman had the leak not occurred and the ‘undercover’ investigation had been allowed to continue.

      SEE “Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Weissman

  • Julian April 21, 2009, 9:35 AM

    They are charged, which is a fact. As far as being criminals or traitors that remains to be seen. The Prosecutors took a devastating loss when the Appeals Court rule Leonard could testify for the Defense. I
    wouldn’t put my money on the prosecution.
    I’m not upset at all. I expect the facts to be distorted at anti Israel blogs. I actually enjoy the Israel haters and find the people who agree with me boring.
    I find it amazing that people like Juan Cole and Richard Silverstein can’t get the facts right. The whole case is on line. Anybody with a modicum of effort can read the facts. What they write is what they want the case to be, not the reality.

    • Richard Silverstein April 21, 2009, 12:22 PM

      I expect the facts to be distorted at anti Israel blogs. I actually enjoy the Israel haters

      READ MY COMMENT RULES. Call me anti-Israel or Israel hater once more and you’ll lose yr comment privileges faster than your head can spin. If you can’t follow minimal rules indicating intellectual respect, then don’t bother.

      Show me a single fact I’ve gotten wrong. They have been charged and are alleged spies till they are proven guilty. But I have my own strong opinions about their guilt whether or not they are convicted. I’m entitled to those opinions and will express them whether you like it or not.

  • Julian April 21, 2009, 3:36 PM

    “After Weissman and Rosen were arrested, an Israeli embassy official, Naor Gilon, beat a hasty retreat from these shores. It quickly became clear that Gilon was the person to whom Rosen and Weissman intended to give Larry Franklin’s purloined top secret documents.”

    You figured out the whole plot. One problem. Rosen and Weissman never had possession of any of Franklin’s purloined document and the government case doesn’t allege they asked for them.

    • DICKERSON3870 April 22, 2009, 1:13 PM

      RE: “Rosen and Weissman never had possession of any of Franklin’s purloined document and the government case doesn’t allege they asked for them.”

      MY COMMENT: Rosen and Weissman were under surveillance in an ongoing investigation. After they met with Franklin, but before any documents were passed, someone ‘leaked’ info on the matter. Consequently, there was a story about it in the media (CBS) tipping off Rosen and Weissman. We will never know what Franklin might have passed to Rosen and Weissman had the leak not occurred and the ‘undercover’ investigation had been allowed to continue.

      SEE “Lawrence Franklin espionage scandal” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Weissman

  • DICKERSON3870 April 21, 2009, 7:59 PM

    RE: “…ironic that an intelligence maven would get caught like this with her panties down…”

    MY COMMENT: MR. SILVERSTEIN, A LITTLE DECORUM PLEASE!!!(LOL)

    RE: “So could Gilon be the alleged agent?”

    MY COMMENT: very possibly

    RE: “the motivation for leaking this story now”

    MY SPECULATION: M.J.Rosenberg’s scenario? Payback/push back by Charles Freeman sympathizers within the intelligence community? An attempt at neutralizing the Freeman detractors in preparation for a new appointment? An effort by intelligence individuals to make it more difficult for the prosecutors to drop the Rosen/Weissman prosecutions?

  • Michael May 12, 2009, 5:14 AM

    Haaretz today cites a 2006 State Comptroller report, according to which, Haim Saban was part of a group that funded Shimon Peres’ campaign to become head of the Labor Party. Saban et al took advantage of a window of two weeks (before a campaign finance reform bill took effect) to pump in hundreds of thousands of dollars. So Haim Saban is messing with Israeli politics too.
    This article also reports that an AIPAC bigwig, Dan Abrahams is in bed with Peres, flying him on his private jet, mixing his employee with official presidential business etc.
    I guess it’s fine if you are in the AIPAC, pro-war camp. On the other hand, if you favor human rights and co-existence, then the line is: “how dare your express an opinion on internal Israeli affairs!”

    • Richard Silverstein May 12, 2009, 11:32 PM

      Abrahams is the Slim Fast King who also slipped lots of hundred dollar bills to Olmert in a NYC hotel room. That was part of the damning evidence against Olmert. Isn’t there any way to be a pol in Israel without being corrupt?? I think that’s a rhetorical question…

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