Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AIPAC scandal

An AIPAC-related intrigue has come to light. The National Security Agency (NSA) recorded a conversation that took place several years ago between a suspected Israeli agent and Rep. Jane Harman (a Democrat from California). In the conversation, Harman agrees to pressure the Justice Department to "reduce espionage related charges" against two AIPAC officials. In return, the suspected Israeli agent would help get Harman appointed chair of the Intelligence Committee.

This deal was known, or at least suspected, in 2006. An FBI investigation was begun, but ended for "lack of evidence." What is new is first, that a recording of this conversation has surfaced (the recording came from of a court-approved wiretapping of the suspected agent); and second, that it appears that the FBI investigation against Harman was not dropped for lack of evidence after all. Rather, it was dropped because then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales intervened to get the charges dismissed, so that Harman, a big cheerleader for the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program, could be free to defend it (this was at the time when news of the program was breaking in the New York Times).

The deal was ultimately unsuccessful, from the standpoint of the players involved: Harman never got her committee appointment after all, and the two AIPAC officials (Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman) still face trial (in June) – lest we be tempted to draw conclusions about the omnipotence of AIPAC. What happens next remains to be seen.

There is lots of information about this at:


Judith Norman

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