Saturday, March 31, 2007

Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

I hope that's what Democratic presidential candidates are saying to themselves concerning their participation in a Democratic primary debate hosted by Fox News.

Fox News has already shown what they do when they host a Democratic debate - make the party and its candidates look bad. And that's by design, of course.

Concerning that last debate, this diary at DailyKos: When did you stop beating your wife? Fox debate questions looks to be very aptly titled.

(The link to the debate transcript is her and in the diary, if you care to read the whole thing.)

I just rewatched Robert Greenwald's Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism last night, and the documentary shows very clearly that there's a coordinated strategy from the top on a daily basis to get the Republican message out to its viewers.

Fox News would just love to have a chance to control the message for Democrats yet again. Any candidate would be a fool to let them.

Just take a look at these videos at if you wonder why.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Acknowledging Mistakes - McCain Style

When you find that you were wrong on something, don't just pretend like you never said it -- attack those who would ever voice such a thought.

The Doubletalk Express is firing on all cylinders...

Sunlight Foundation -- Grade on Harman's Website Adjusted

The organization did an update to their study and -- it's not that surprising I guess -- they acknowledged this error and some other corrections in an open and transparent way.
Some other members also went from fail to pass: Rep. Jane Harman is the most embarrassing one--the initial release had her as an 8, and a very cursory review of the site shows that it wasn't the design that caused the problem. We missed that one.
Owning up to mistakes in a forthright and honest way is not easy - it's easy to minimize them. It's great to see them lead by example.

Jane Harman's site now just meets the passing score(40%) because it provides all the types of information on her official business that they survey for. In my post, I neglected to point out her website also links to her statements entered into the congressional record, but the Sunlight folks caught that one when they looked at it again.

On the other criteria, her site gets all zeroes. This needs to change.

The first step should be listing the earmarks she sponsors and providing info on her interventions with or correspondence to regulatory agencies. That would be pretty easy to do. Then providing a public calendar with the her schedule, including attendees and subjects of meetings -- that should come next. We elected her to represent us, so we deserve to know how she's spending her official on-the-clock time.

Sunlight Foundation's "Transparency" Ratings of Congress Members' Websites

First, background on the organization from its mission statement:
The Sunlight Foundation, a 501 (c)(3) educational organization, is designed to use the transformative power of the Internet and new information technology to enable citizens to learn more about what Congress and their elected representatives are doing, and thus help reduce corruption, ensure great transparency and accountability by government, and foster public trust in the vital institutions of democracy.
In that spirit, they just put out an evaluation of each congress member's web site to see how well they scored on what they're doing in congress, how much they help visitors to their sites to find the disclosures tjeu are legally-required to file, and other information that promotes transparency like releasing the member's daily schedules or saying what earmarks they've sponsored.

Their conclusions were, no big surprise, that most congress members score poorly, though some fared pretty decently (Boxer at 40%, a passing grade). This kind of investigation is important to push transparency, and I think over time they'll make a lot of headway.

One important thing they'll have to keep in mind is the reliability of their data. The one member's evaluation I looked at (Harman's, of course) had incorrectly dinged her for things they shouldn't have.

Perhaps the scrutiny of readers like myself will help scrub this report to make sure it's accurate - they say the internets are self-correcting, don't they? - but nonetheless it was unfortunate to have this report not get it right from the start.
For what it's worth, here's my post on the matter to the Sunlight Foundation blog.
The grade for Harman's site is wrong for two and possibly three questions:
A list or a link to bills the member has sponsored or co-sponsored.

The name(s) of the committee(s) and subcommittee(s) on which the member serves.

Links to the Web sites of the committee(s) on which the member serves

Your survey says she doesn't have these things, however a look at her site says otherwise.

From the front page, you click on "Issues", which brings you here. And on that page, you have:

A Legislation section with links for sponsored and cosponsored legislation; and,

A Committees & Coalitions section with presumably up-to-date links to her committees.

I'm not certain offhand that Energy and Commerce, and the House Select Committee on Homeland Security are her only committees, but if they are, then she's also got the list of committees she serves on (which means she shouldn't be dinged for question 2 either).

It's a little concerning to see that this was done incorrectly. I hope you'll go back and check other reports, perhaps focusing on those completed by anonymous reviewers, as this one was.

I'm certainly no big fan of Harman in a lot of areas, but she, like every other congressperson, deserves to be judged fairly. I trust you'll take a look at this and correct the mistakes. FYI, people are already referencing the incorrect Harman score. so the sooner the better. (PS. I am pretty sure that they haven't monkeyed with their page since your report came out -- it would be rather dishonest, for one, and and I haven't seen her office resort to that kind of thing. But also, despite the links they set up, Harman's office devotes very little time and energy to the website it would be totally out of character for them to react that quickly).
Hopefully, they react promptly on this.

...Harman's reported score, even after being corrected, won't score very well. While getting decent marks for providing info on her official duties, she'll still get goose-eggs for disclosure and transparency.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Nancy Pelosi - Delivers the Goods, and She Credits Anti-War Leaders for Passage

Nancy Pelosi delivered exactly the number of votes she needed to pass the supplemental funding bill. Two Republicans voted for the bill, but Pelosi didn't need them. She got it done by effectively managing the caucus.

I really wish that Democrats could have put real teeth (ie. funding reductions and restrictions) into their bill, and that the alternative to this plan wasn't one that contained no restrictions at all, but that was the reality. And given the situation, Pelosi got just enough. Perhaps she had a few more in hand as well, if needed.

But more than that, Speaker Pelosi went out of her way to thank the leaders of the Out of Iraq group for ceasing to whip opposition and allowing the bill the gain enough support for it to pass. This resulted in a standing ovation from the caucus. Thank goodness we didn't see credit given to group of Blue Dogs (apparently not including Harman) who watered the bill down. The political situation apparently required those changes.

But it was Waters, Woolsey and Jackson who compromised the most, after having enforceable troop withdrawal language taken out of the bill. They deserve the credit, and Pelosi gave it to them.

Supplemental Vote: Thanks to Harman; Super Thanks to Red District Dems

Thanks to Jane Harman for voting Yes on the Democrats' Iraq Emergency Supplemental bill. It's not an incredibly enthusiastic Thank you because Harman never said anything publicly to indicate her support and was undecided (publicly, at least) until the vote itself, and she's in a safely Democratic district that's very much in favor of putting limits on Bush in Iraq. But she did do the right thing, and should get some props.

But my real appreciation goes to the Democrats in Red districts who voted the right way. They had something to lose personally by voting for it, but they did it anyways. Thanks to all of them for acting in the party's and the nation's best interests.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Lightbulbs and Iraq

Why is it that Jane Harman can find the time to address lightbulb inefficiency, but can't come up with a position on the Iraq supplemental?

Again today, nary a word on her webpage or on the internets about her position. I guess it's still the same position as earlier in the week: "she'll make up her mind when the vote takes place".

How brave.

(post edited to add lightbulb link)

Taking What We Can Get and Preparing for the Next Battle

I'm glad to hear that Nancy Pelosi appears to have the votes to pass the House leadership's supplemental bill.

I think Atrios has got it right on the Iraq Emergency Supplemental:
It isn't perfect, but the choice isn't between nothing and a pony, it's between nothing and this. From what I understand Pelosi has called in every chip she has (and thrown some elbows) for the Bill. Whatever its imperfections, it's better than the realistic alternative.

And Chris Bowers' thoughts give me a little hope that progressives, despite the divisions between the purists and the pragmatists on this supplemental, may both walk away with something:
The more I think about it, at least in the short term, both camps in the progressive side of this debate will actually get what they want. This bill will pass the House, but it will also never pass into law. Many anti-war activists don't want any more spending bills for Iraq to pass into law, and they want to start by defeating this one. When Republicans defeat this bill via Senate filibuster, or when Bush vetoes the bill, anti-war activists holding that position will get their wish, as this bill will be defeated. It will not be defeated in the way they want it to be defeated, but it will be defeated nonetheless. At the same time, those of us now favoring the bill will get what we wanted: headlines showing Democrats trying to end the war, but being thwarted by Republicans. Pelosi will look like a strong leader, and the Democratic caucus will look unified. In the short term, not only have Democrats won the politics of this fight, but there still won't be any more money to continue the Iraq war. We all won.

He also highlights the need for anti-occupation Democrats to unite quickly for the next battle:
I indicated yesterday that the next fight would probably be engaged over the Department of Defense appropriations bill in late April / early May. However, when this bill--the one we have so agonized over--is defeated either via filibuster or via veto, the fight over the Iraq supplemental will continue. And we will need to work together on that fight. If there is any attempt to cave to Republicans, and pass a bill with no restrictions whatsoever, people on both sides of the current debate will need to join together to help defeat that bill. You better believe I will help whip votes to defeat a straight-up funding of the war. Further, if Democrats decide to scrap this bill, and start over with new legislation, we will all need to work together to make the language stronger, rather than weaker. Yet further, even apart from this bill, we will need to make sure that provisions which were stripped out of it, such as language requiring congressional approval for any military action on Iran, are not only given a vote on the House floor, but passed by the House. In short, no matter what happens, once this bill is passed we will need to continue working together to help bring an end to this war.

And I like his bottom-line comment at the end of his post:
Passing this bill through the House won't result in the war getting one more dime, while simultaneously giving us all a huge amount of political capitol. That sounds like a helluva victory to me. Progressives performed well during this fight, as for once the final approval of a bill had to go through us, not the Blue Dogs. That is an added bonus, even apart from the Iraq victories. Now, let's move on to the next one, and get ever stronger.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Emergency Supplemental for Iraq War Funding - Jane?

The vote on the Iraq War emergency supplemental is going to be a close one. Progressives are upset at the un-binding and unenforceable nature of the legislation (thanks to the watering down of the legislation at the behest of some Blue Dogs - Harman not being one of them apparently) and they have threatened to vote against it. But despite that, we're willing to accept it as the best that can be had and prepare for the next fight. MoveOn polled its members and found out well over 90% support this legislation. This is from an email I received from MoveOn yesterday:
Dear MoveOn member,

The results are in from our poll on whether to support Speaker Pelosi's proposal on Iraq: 84.6% of MoveOn members voted to support the bill. 9.2% said they weren't sure and 6.2% voted to oppose it.

This note from Ruel B. in California seems to sum up what most MoveOn members feel: "I agree it may not go far enough, but it is a first step. Hopefully, the first step on the road to getting out of Iraq."

The media has spent a lot of time focusing on divisions between the Democrats. But the biggest division is between President Bush, who says he'll veto any timetable for exit, and the voters, who want one.

Where does Jane Harman stand?

Jane Harman's position on the Democratic House leadership's plan is undecided, according to the woman who answered her DC office phone yesterday. Unless there are big changes to the bill, she will "probably" support it, but she won't be making up her mind on it until it's actually voted on.

While she might like to keep it ambiguous as to why she's only tentatively supporting this legislation (ie. Is it because it goes too far or not far enough to restrict Bush?), she's already said that she'll vote for the Iraq supplemental previously. Given that, it's pretty clear that she would be coming down on the side of trying to water the thing down, not make it stronger.

Now that it's about as watered down as can be, it's unfortunate that she can't bring herself to announce her support ahead of time.

She's going to rile a lot of people up if she votes against this, that's for sure.

Monday, March 19, 2007

More Evidence Iraq is FUBAR; Will Harman Acknowledge It?

Just check out via this new ABC News poll of Iraqis how Iraqis' views of things have gotten more hopeless, and how they blame the US (or George Bush personally) a lot more than they blame Al Qaeda or foreign fighters.

More than half of Iraqi's polled called it "acceptable" to attack US or coalition forces --- 3 times whan it was in early 2004.

Iraqis increasingly see us as ineffectual occupiers making conditions worse - and they don't mind if we get attacked.

It sure is nice for Jane Harman to say (yet again, just last month) that we have an obligation to leave Iraq better than we found it.

But will Jane Harman ever say how she would do that? If such a thing were possible, it undoubtedly would require more troops (which also means more deaths), more money and more time than the American people would ever agree to commit.

Jane Harman spends a lot of her time on foreign policy, and I imagine like to see herself as taking it very seriously. That's why I find it very curious that she can be so unserious in declaring the U.S. has an obligation to make Iraq better again without ever acknowledging the enormous commitment she'd be signing America up to in order to attempt such an endeavor.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Media's View re: Lying to Congress

AIPAC is not Democrats' Ally

This guy's take on AIPAC and their embrace of the extreme Christian Right is interesting. Worth reading the whole thing.

Harman gets a mention:
But when will Democrats finally recognize that AIPAC is NOT their friend. When will people like Nita Lowey, Jane Harman and others realize that AIPAC does them no favors when its former national director endorses a multi-million dollar election ad campaign attacking Democrats for being "soft" on Israel. Barack Obama is beginning to see this. Hillary will never see it. We need Democrats who can be pro-Israel (and pro-Palestinian) without being slaves of AIPAC.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Harman Introduces Lighting Requirements Bill

As she describes it:
As California-and Australia and Europe-goes, so (should) go the nation. That's why it's time for the country to phase out inefficient energy-consuming light-bulbs.

Small idea. Big impact.

Today, I introduced a bill to require all light bulbs produced or used in the U.S. to meet current fluorescent bulb standards (60 lumens per watt) by 2012, 90 lumens by 2016, and 120 by 2020.

This is well intentioned and Rep. Jane Harman is quite right to want to do something about reducing energy used for lighting. I like the instict to try to address the problem. But it falls short of what's needed.

What's going to be accomplished by this mandate that kicks in five years down the road? Nothing's required to change in the mean time, and industry lobbyists will have five years to influence lawmakers to see the "impossibility" of complying with the mandate, as they did for the no-emission vehicle requirement.

Florescent lightbulbs are not without a significant environmental downside -- they contain mercury which is released when they break. But certainly the Home Depots of the world would be able to deal with the end-of-product-life question in return for the government greatly expand this market, as they will benefit handsomely from it. Retailers could be required to educate consumers about the mercury issue and give them real options to properly dispose of their used florescent bulbs. Given the option of driving an hour to a hazardous waste dump or tossing the bulb in the trash, what do you think most people would do? Retailers who profit from this expanding market should not be let off the hook for the environmental impacts of their products.

Not a simple issue - but focus and forethought in addressing it now can allow government to promote compact florescent use and save lots of energy today. The lumens per watt standard is a great idea, and other types of bulbs should be able to qualify if they are energy efficient enough. I appreciate how tough it is to decide how long to give manufacturers before imposing a mandate. They will have a good case that they need time to comply before being potentially entirely shut out of the American market for most lighting. And when the deadline approaches and manufacturers whine and moan and apply the pressure of their well-paid lobbyists, it will be exceedingly tough for congress to follow through.

Let me suggest an alternative solution: congress could use a more market driven solution and impose a tax on energy-hogging bulbs and use those funds to discount the price of energy-efficient bulbs. So manufacturers wouldn't be shut out of the market as under the mandate scenario. And consumers would probably prefer to have the freedom of choice, even if they never opt to pay the steep premium for an energy-hogging bulb. And finally, using financial incentives and disincentives instead of a mandate is in keeping with the other market-based elements of this proposal.

Hopefully the bill can be reworked to make change happen in the near term, not just theoretically down the road (a la Schwarzenggar's/Bush's hyping of the hydrogen car).

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More on Blue Dogs and Iraq

The Blue Dogs are proud of their actions and are taking credit for scuttling the Murtha plan, which would actually have forced a change with the war and ensured proper troop readiness and equipment.

While the progressives continue their effort at concrete, binding legislation on Iraq, they continue to face obstacles. At MyDD, Bowers pins much of the Democratic impasse on the Blue Dogs.
While gleefully using Republican talking points, Alan Boyd just bragged that the Blue Dogs killed Murtha's plan to do anything substantive about Iraq. If you brag that prevented Democrats from doing anything substantial about the war, then enjoy owning the Iraq war as well.

When you hear a Blue Dog say something like this:
"The war is the issue, but it's the president's issue, not ours...."

from Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK), you realize Chris is right. What a weasly, despicable approach to governing on the most important issue facing us today. No, Mr. Boren--Iraq is your issue. Your party was elected to the majority to lead, and to lead on Iraq, not to pass it off in some cynical game of hot potato. While obstructing real, concrete action on changing course on Iraq, the Blue Dogs are taking on ownership of this war. And the House leadership that lets the Blue Dogs call the shots on this one endangers taking it on as well.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Blue Dogs Trying to Thwarting Dems and Will of US People on Iraq

Jane Harman is a proud member of this organization. It emphasizes its middle-ground proposals and likes to boasts that it "injects a moderate viewpoint into the Democratic caucus".

Outside of DC, you'd expect that "moderate", or "middle-ground" would mean what the majority of the American people want, not partisans at the extreme. Within the beltway, what the public wants doesn't need to figure in.

Perfect example: Iraq. As pointed out by Chris Bowers at, the polls actually show a clear majority supporting the Murtha plan -- 58% to 39% -- yet the Blue Dogs, who claim to represent the "middle", initiated a revolt that forced Dems to water that plan down.

Ain't that just dandy! And particularly for us Jane Harman constituents, since Jane doesn't associate herself as loud and proud Blue Dog out of necessity but rather out of pure choice.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Opportunity to Oppose Escalation - in a Real Way

From Kevin Drum's Washington Monthly:

MORE SURGE....The surge is getting even surgier. This has barely even been reported in U.S. newspapers, but the Pentagon has apparently decided that 21,500 extra troops aren't enough:
Gordon England, deputy secretary of defence, revealed [on Tuesday] that army commanders were requesting reinforcements beyond the 21,500 personnel already earmarked for the so-called "surge" into the capital.

"At this point, our expectation is the number of ... troops could go above 21,500 by about 4,000, maybe as many as 7,000," the official told the House of Representatives Budget committee in Washington.

An AP dispatch elaborates:
Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England told the Senate Budget Committee last week that about 6,000 additional support personnel -- such as headquarters staff, military police, and medical personnel -- would be needed to complement the 21,500 additional combat troops....The request probably will come to about $2 billion.

Are they seriously trying to pretend that they just forgot they'd need support troops as well as combat troops? Please.

In any case, this is the Democrats' first chance to oppose the surge in a serious, non-symbolic way: they can refuse to approve the additional $2 billion. Even if the Pentagon goes ahead and reallocates money from some other account to fund the extra troops, this would still be a concrete way to oppose any further escalation. But do they have the spine to do it?

Just to recap Jane Harman's stated opposition to the surge:

From her December HuffingtonPost piece,Harman to President Bush: Send More Troops to Iraq...NOT!:

That this administration could still think an escalated military option is a credible path to stability and democracy in Iraq is alarming, and indicative of how far removed from reality this president and his inner circle are.


Well, I have a message for this President, and it's not a joke: Mr. Bush, send more troops to Iraq...NOT!

And from from her January piece Making a Big Mistake Even Worse:
A surge in troops may have been a great idea three and a half years ago but it makes no sense now. There is no way to achieve success in Iraq using military force.
We've attempted surges in Iraq four times in the last two years. None of them worked.
We need to start redeploying our troops out of Iraq now, something I've been saying for over six months. Last summer was the last chance for the military mission to succeed. It didn't. So I am supporting H. Res. 41, introduced by my Massachusetts colleague Marty Meehan, expressing disapproval of the President's policy. And I am reviewing proposals to limit or end funding for additional military personnel in Iraq.

If the surge "makes no sense now", if our last chance for the military mission has already passed us by, if similar surges have "not worked", and if Harman's own six-months-hence criteria for success in Iraq are just as unmet in month 9 as on day 1, then surely she can bring herself to deny the backend request that Bush purposefully held back.

This would be a baby-step in the right direction. If she can get past this, then she can put her focus on where she says it needs to be: redeployment (aka withdrawal). It's essential that our troop withdrawal start now and be fully funded. Instead of spending funds escalating a military mission that Harman says has no chance of success, we could be devoting those precious resources to getting our troops out safely.

A dollar spent on the surge is a dollar less for safe withdrawal.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Jane Harman on CNN Sunday Morning Show re: Iraq & Iran

Jane appeared on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on Sunday (Feb 25th), in a segment with Republican Duncan Hunter. Watch it for yourself here.

I'll disect this soon. A couple comments for now though:

A lot of forthright talk about the lies put out as "intelligence" by the administration on Iran. There were a number of times when Harman pushed back against the Republican talking points. That was great to see.

On the down side was Jane's way of discussing Iraq. She again demonstrates that she intends to keep us there for many a year. With her it's the competency of the war effort that's the problem, or that it's not on budget, or that Congress hasn't had a chance to criticize the requests sufficiently -- but the problem with the war is not the war itself. Her criticisms will be ignored by Bush though, and when it comes down to it, is Jane Harman ever going to bring herself to vote against whatever Bush asks for? Nothing she's said suggests she's willing to do that.

Appropos of that, I'd love to know what she means by saying President Bush has Commander in Chief authorities. Yes, Bush is Commander in Chief of the armed forces, so what? He's not Commander in Chief over civilians, and certainly not of congress. Why does she mean to suggest when she repeatedly brings up "Bush is Commander in Chief" in response to questions about congressional spending controls of the Iraq War?

The transcript is available from CNN for this one, although it won't give you the full flavor of the discussion (e.g. Harman was shaking her head on camera during some of Hunter's responses). I don't know how long CNN will preserve the transcript on their site -- so here is the Harman/Hunter segment:

BLITZER: ....Let me get your reaction quickly, Duncan Hunter, to what we just heard from Sy Hersh, writing in The New Yorker magazine, saying here on "Late Edition" that the Bush administration, despite the denials, is at an advanced stage in preparing war plans to go to war against Iran.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, first, Wolf, when you listen to Sy Hersh, you have to listen to the whole thing, because I heard him say, he said the administration has been studying this forever. Well, of course, every administration has been studying Iran forever, especially with respect to their development of the centrifuge systems, which at some point, if built upon, may produce enough material to build a nuclear system. So, we have contingency plans around the world. We had contingency plans with the Soviet Union, and we had specific targets. That didn't mean that we were planning to strike the Soviet Union.

So Sy has used some general background which has always existed -- that is that we have intelligence focused on Iran -- and he interprets that, he translate that, into an intent to attack Iran in the near future. That's not the case.

But, nonetheless, the IAEA, the international arms control observers and inspectors, have come back from Iran and stated that Iran is moving forward with its centrifuge systems. They are moving down the path that will allow them to develop a nuclear device, and I think certainly, at some point, that military option is always on the table. At some point, it may have to be exercised.

BLITZER: What about that, Congresswoman Harman? You're just back from the Middle East.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Right, well, first of all, I think if we are ever to initiate military action in Iran, Congress needs to approve it. I support legislation that would make that crystal clear.

But I am just back from a trip. I heard a lot of things about Iran, first of all, that it is an existential threat to Israel, which we have known for a long time. Second, that its centrifuge technology may not be as far advanced as some claim. But, third, what I heard both in Israel and Turkey is that economic sanctions are working against Iran.

That hasn't come up yet in the segments you've had today, Wolf. Undersecretary of State Nick Burns will be in Europe next week to try to persuade European capitals to disinvest in Iran. Congress is increasing the authority under the Iran Sanctions Act to impose sanctions against subsidiaries who do business with firms that are doing business in Iran.

And I think we have a real shot here of changing the policy in Iran in a way that would be very constructive and much more effective than this notion of initiating military action where we don't have a day after scenario that makes any sense whatsoever.

BLITZER: Congressman Hunter, have you seen any evidence that the Iranians have stopped supplying military equipment or funding or training to various Shiite militia groups in Iraq as the Iraqi national security advisor, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, said here on "Late Edition" in the last hour, that the Iranians all of a sudden have decided they want to see the U.S. succeed in Iraq?

HUNTER: You know, I saw that statement and I think that's a premature statement. The supply and the evidence of supply, especially of deadly systems from Iran, goes up and down and, certainly, they have been supplying capability to elements inside Iraq. And I think at this point for them to say they've stopped, there's no conclusive evidence that they've stopped. It ebbs and flows, Wolf, and at this point you can't say they stopped.

But one point on what Jane said. She said that she thinks there's evidence that sanctions may be working. You know, we watched the North Koreans labor under very difficult economic conditions to the point where their people were starving to death and literally eating bark off of trees, but that didn't keep the central government of North Korea from developing nuclear weapons.

So I agree with Jane that we should do everything we can with respect to sanctions, although I think that China and Russia will always try to blunt any effective sanctions. But at some point, if the central government of Iran wants to continue down this path to develop nuclear systems, then they will do that.

And this last report from the inspectors is that they have added centrifuges and that they still intend to build the 3000 plus centrifuges that will develop enough material to build at least several nuclear devices.

HARMAN: Yes, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, go ahead Jane Harman.

HARMAN: I am now the chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee, and intelligence, as you know, is something I have watched closely for many years. And I will tell you that the intelligence on Iran is quite inconclusive.

First of all, on these exclusive projectiles, I think it was great that people pushed back last week when those reports came out. There is no direct link to the top levels of the Iranian government. We have known about those projectiles for years. Why they were rolled out right now is a mystery to me.

But, also, there's a big front page report in the Los Angeles Times today. I am in L.A. so I read it, and it's all about some other intelligence having to do with Iran's capability, which some feel might be disinformation.

And I will tell you that I was one of the people who pushed back about a year ago to our intelligence community when I received some briefings, which I can't describe because they were classified, but I felt that, again, that might be disinformation as much as information.

And let's not make the mistake in Iran that we made in Iraq, which is to believe this tautology that the failure to prove something does not exist is proof that it does exist. We have to be very, very careful and we need to be sure that our decisions, if they're based on intelligence, are based on accurate and actionable intelligence.

BLITZER: Let me just let Congressman Hunter respond to that.

HUNTER: And, Jane, at the same time, let's say at the same time we shouldn't then accept carte blanche a statement that all activity has seized because that also is not proved.

HARMAN: I agree with that, Duncan. I agree. I do agree with you.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, stand by, we're going to take a quick break. A lot more to talk about with Congresswoman Jane Harman, Congressman Duncan Hunter. Please stay with us. We're going to talk about what's going on with the U.S. troop build-up in Iraq and what's happening with the British forces, some of whom are about to leave.

But also, coming up next, we'll get a quick check of what's in the news, including the latest on today's very deadly day in Baghdad. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



RICE: When it comes to the execution of policy in the field, that has to be a clean relationship between the commander in chief and the commanders in the field. The commander in chief has to be able to rely on the best military advice, the best advice of people like General Petraeus as to what he needs, when he needs it and how he needs to use it.


BLITZER: The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, speaking on ABC earlier today. Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting from Washington. We're continuing our conversation with Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman and Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter. What about that, Congresswoman Harman, give the secretary of state and the commander in chief a chance to let this new U.S. policy, the troop buildup in Iraq, give it a chance to work.

HARMAN: Duncan and I have had long conversations over the years of the president's commander in chief authorities. He does have them. Congress, however, has the authority to declare war and the power of the purse.

And I think, finally, Congress is stepping up as we should and reviewing carefully the supplemental proposal for Iraq, insisting that future supplemental requests or requests for war funds in Iraq be on budget. At least that's a proposal of the blue dogs, which I support, et cetera.

And with respect to this comment, I would say that the surge won't work. I voted for the non-binding resolution that disapproved the surge. There was a bipartisan majority for that. And I will be working with our leadership and the Senate leadership on additional plans that are binding to change the direction in Iraq so that we get to a strategy that will work. No one wants to abandon the Iraqi people or our interests there, but this strategy is a flawed strategy, and it will fail.

BLITZER: Some Republicans, including some influential Republicans, Congressman Hunter, agree with Jane Harman on this issue. Senator John Warner, the former chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, now the ranking member, said this on Thursday: "What I'm worried about is that the American public will be quite perplexed by the president adding forces while our principal ally is subtracting forces. That is the burden we are being left with here," referring to the British decision to start pulling out troops from Iraq. Go ahead and make your case.

HUNTER: Well, I don't agree with John on this one or with Jane. I think that that vote last week was -- will be interpreted by our enemies as the first signal of retreat in this war against terror, and I've looked carefully at this strategy, the nine-sector strategy in Baghdad, the two or three Iraqi battalions up front, the American battalion in a back-up role.

And the so-called surge really just takes us up to about 157,000 troops, which is less than we had, wolf, a year ago in December. Now, you know, we have, we're following the basic plan that we followed for 60 years in extending freedom around the world.

Number one, you stand up a free government. We've done that. It's a clumsy government, an inept government, but it was elected by its people.

Number two, we stand up a military that's capable of protecting that free government. Right now, you have 129 Iraqi battalions that Americans have trained and equipped. The American interest is to rotate every one of those Iraqi battalions through a combat operation for three or four months, make them saddle up, come to Baghdad and come to the Anbar Province and come to the Sunni Triangle and stand up the Iraqi military through military operations. I think that that will work.

BLITZER: Congresswoman Harman, I want you to respond, but also in the context of what the vice president, Dick Cheney, said in blasting the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and Congressman John Murtha.

He said this to ABC: "If we were to do what Speaker Pelosi and Congressman Murtha are suggesting, all it will do is validate the al Qaida strategy. That al Qaida strategy is to break the will of the American people. In fact, knowing that they can't win in a stand-up fight, try to persuade us to throw in the towel and come home." Go ahead.

HUNTER: Well, Wolf, surely...

BLITZER: No, let's let Jane Harman respond.

HARMAN: Al Qaida is in Iraq after our military action there because of the mistakes we made in our postwar strategy. Al Qaida was not there before. What we should be doing is focusing on al Qaida. That is why -- and I think Duncan and I agree on this -- we should surge our military force through NATO in Afghanistan. And we also should be very critical of some of the decisions that President Musharraf has made with tribal leadership in Pakistan, which has enabled al Qaida to regroup and become stronger there.

In addition to that, with respect to Iraq, I still think we should stay focused on al Qaida activities. But this military surge to try to hold Baghdad is not working. You just had reports of increased, sadly, deaths of Iraqis today, and there's no signs that the 129 Iraqi battalions, whom we have supposedly trained, are showing any military capability or that the Maliki government is stepping up to do things that are necessary, such as revoking the policy of debaathification.

BLITZER: All right, Congressman Hunter, I'm going to let you respond, but listen to Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, in her response to the vice president.


PELOSI: The vice president's statements are beneath the dignity of the debate that we are engaged in. They're a disservice for men and women in uniform, whom we all support. And you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to call the president and tell him I disapprove of what the vice president said. That has no place in our debate.


BLITZER: All right, you want to respond?

HUNTER: I think we've got to move beyond the back and forth, the give and take of last week's debate. And what we have to do is follow the American interest. Clearly, it's in the American interest to have a government in Iraq that will not be, number one, a state sponsor of terrorism, that will be a friend and not an enemy of the United States and will have a modicum of freedom.

We stand up the Iraqi forces and we move them, we make the ministry of defense give us a schedule whereby all of the Iraqi forces that we've trained and equipped, and some of those battalions have fought very well. The problem is, we've got lots of battalions in places where there's no attacks going on. We need to saddle them up, get them into the fight, rotate them into combat operations.

And that's how you leave Iraq the right way. You rotate in Iraqi battalions, rotate out American battalions. They can redeploy to other strategic locations as determined by military leaders.

With respect to Iran, our number one role here, our number one goal is, we must stand firm. We must protect Israel. And right now, this is a military challenge that we have. One, to protect against the developing missile capability of Iran. Number two, to watch very closely this emergence of an incipient nuclear capability.

And this could well, Wolf, at some point, require American military forces in Iran. We should never take that card off the table.

BLITZER: Well, we'll leave it there the way we started it, the discussion about potential U.S. war with Iran. Jane Harman, Duncan Hunter, thanks to both of you for joining us.

HUNTER: Great to be with you.

HARMAN: Thank you.