Monday, November 24, 2008

Latest Scuttlebutt: Harman won't get top intel position

From today's story on the AP:
A former intelligence official said he has been told that Obama is not considering giving either of the top intelligence jobs to "anyone with an election in their past." That would work against the selection of either California Rep. Jane Harman or former Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, also a member of the 9/11 Commission, whose names had previously surfaced as contenders for top intelligence posts.
Passed along for what it's worth (not too much).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Jane Harman's Complicity in Illegal Torture and Warrantless Spying Programs

As it concerns giving Harman a post in the intelligence apparatus, it's very important for everyone to remember how complicit Jane Harman has been in illegal acts by the Bush administration in allowing detainee torture to take place and in trampling on our rights as American citizens.

From Glenn Greenwald's post from July:
In December of last year, The Washington Post revealed:

Four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.
The article noted that other Democratic members who received briefings on the CIA's interrogation program included Jay Rockefeller and Jane Harman. While Harman sent a letter to the CIA asking questions about the legality of the program, none ever took any steps to stop or even restrict the interrogation program in any way.

Identically, numerous key Democrats in Congress -- including Rockefeller and Harman -- were told that Bush had ordered the NSA to spy on American without warrants and outside of FISA. None of them did anything to stop it. In fact, while Rockefeller wrote a sad, hostage-like, handwritten letter to Dick Cheney in 2003 (which he sent to nobody else) -- assuring Cheney that he would keep the letter locked away "to ensure that I have a record of this communication" -- Harman was a vocal supporter of the illegal NSA program. Here's what she told Time in January, 2006 in the wake of the NYT article revealing the NSA program:

Some key Democrats even defend it. Says California's Jane Harman, ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee: "I believe the program is essential to U.S. national security and that its disclosure has damaged critical intelligence capabilities."
Harman then went on Fox News and pronounced that the NSA program was "legal and necessary" and proudly said: "I support the program." Even worse, in February, 2006, Harman went on "Meet the Press" and strongly suggested that the New York Times should be criminally prosecuted for having reported on the illegal program. And indeed, in 2004, Harman demanded that the NYT's Eric Lichtblau not write about the NSA program. As Lichtblau wrote in his recent book about a 2004 conversation with Harman:
"You should not be talking about that here," she scolded me in a whisper. "They don't even know about that," she said, gesturing to her aides, who were now looking on at the conversation with obvious befuddlement. "The Times did the right thing by not publishing that story," she continued. I wanted to understand her position. What intelligence capabilities would be lost by informing the public about something the terrorists already knew -- namely, that the government was listening to them? I asked her. Harman wouldn’t bite. "This is a valuable program, and it would be compromised,' she said. I tried to get into some of the details of the program and get a better understanding of why the administration asserted that it couldn't be operated within the confines of the courts. Harman wouldn't go there either. "This is a valuable program," she repeated.
In light of this sordid history of active complicity, is it really any wonder that these leading Democrats are desperate to quash any investigations or judicial adjudications of Bush administration actions that they knew about and did nothing to stop, in some cases even actively supporting?
While I'd love to have the chance to replace Harman with a progressive Democrat in my solid blue 36th Congressional District here in California, I would gladly keep her as my congressional representative if that kept her from being in any of those positions of power over intelligence matters. I think the most important thing first is to prevent her from getting named as DNI or CIA Director or DHS Chief. That's essential.

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Jane Harman Up for Top Intelligence Post in Administration?

According to the Daily Breeze, Harman is up for the top intelligence jobs in the Obama administration:
As President-elect Obama begins staffing his administration, one name that keeps popping up on lists of potential appointees is that of Rep. Jane Harman.

Harman, who has served the South Bay in Congress for 14 of the past 16 years, has been mentioned as a candidate for several positions, including CIA director, director of national intelligence, and secretary of homeland security.
Republicans would love for her to be named by Obama:
"Frankly, it would be a shrewd choice," said Michael Franc, vice president for government relations at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. "She's very well respected for her work in that area."
In case you wonder why Republicans would want her as CIA Director or DNI, and why it's such a bad idea, there are quite a lot of reasons. But really, all you have to do is look at Harman standing proudly next to Dick Cheney as Bush signed the FISA bill, which gave telecom companies retroactive immunity for illegally spying on Americans (something Harman fought hard to get), and jettisoned Americans' 4th amendment right against unlawful searches and seizures. The fact that she can smile and feel proud at such a time says it all.