As the Jane Harman wiretap story continues to unfold, today we learn that Speaker Pelosi has known about it for years. From CQ:
Pelosi Said She Knew Harman Was Wiretapped
By Edward Epstein, CQ Staff
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Wednesday she was first informed in a confidential briefing a few years ago that Rep. Jane Harman had been recorded by spy agencies, but that she couldn’t tell Harman or anyone else about it.
Pelosi said the briefing from intelligence agencies was usual practice in the Capitol, where top congressional leaders are always told when a member of Congress pops up during the course of secret investigations.
Pelosi wouldn’t comment on the substance of the briefing about Harman.
“I was not in a position to raise it with Jane Harman . All they said was that she was wiretapped,” said Pelosi, who said she couldn’t remember if the secret briefing took place in 2005 or 2006.
“When you are briefed on something it isn’t your role to share it with anybody else,” said Pelosi, who served on the Intelligence Committee for a decade until she entered the House Democratic leadership about six years ago. “Even if I wanted to share it with her I would not have had the liberty to share it with her,” she added at a roundtable sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor.
Congressional Quarterly is on a roll, digging deep into the latest on Jane Harman wiretapping revelations that was covered yesterday by mcjoan, then analyzed further by Dana Houle when Harman made the mistake of giving a train wreck of an NPR interview.
Today's revelation about Pelosi is explored in a second piece at CQ by Jeff Stein, who delved deeper than his colleague into the subject matter of the conversations -- and it isn't pretty ... power struggles and donor threats at the Speaker level.
California Democrat Jane Harman, battling a controversy over her interactions with a suspected Israeli spy, was overheard on a 2005 wiretap discussing a failed fundraising ploy designed to get her named chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, according to a former national security official who has read the transcript.
Harman was heard lamenting to the suspected Israeli agent how the tactics of a major Jewish fundraiser to use the threat of withholding political donations to California Democrat Nancy Pelosi to win Harman the gavel of the House Select Committee on Intelligence had badly backfired, the former official said. [...]
The former official, who has provided accurate information on Harman's intercepted conversations, did so only on the condition of anonymity because the material remains highly classified.
In the wiretapped conversation, the target was heard telling Harman that "Pelosi went ballistic" when Saban allegedly warned her that if Harman were not made chairman of the Intelligence Committee after the 2006 elections "'you'll get no more contributions from me,'" according to the former official's paraphrase of the conversation.
This completely contradicts the claim made in the Epstein article, that says:
And Pelosi said the threat of a cutoff in donations never happened.
So add that to the list of questions raised as we learn more about this story.
And it should be noted that in the original CQ article, Stein said that Alberto Gonzales had killed the enquiry before Pelosi was notified, which is obviously untrue. And there are even contradictory reports on who exactly was doing the wiretapping itself. While most reports say it was the NSA, the Washington Post says it was the FBI.
Stay tuned. This story is far from over.
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