As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Goss Harmin' Harman?

Since I've been offering one side of the Jane Harman story as the bits of intrigue trickle out in the media, I thought I'd explore the second option - that Bush-era officials at the CIA are using the Harman story as a warning shot against further investigation of their practices with torture and wiretapping, as well as pushing back against a thorn in the CIA's side:

But the former intelligence official familiar with the matter noted that (ex-CIA Director Porter) Goss has given only one on-the-record interview on these CIA controversies since leaving the CIA director job. In the December 2007 interview, he said that Congressional leaders, including Representatives Pelosi and Goss himself, Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), and later Rep. Harman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), had been briefed on CIA waterboarding back in 2002 and 2003. "Among those being briefed, there was a pretty full understanding of what the CIA was doing," Goss told the Washington Post. "And the reaction in the room was not just approval, but encouragement."

Who was the lone lawmaker the article identified as objecting to the program?

Jane Harman.

"Harman, who replaced Pelosi as the [House intelligence] committee's top Democrat in January 2003, disclosed Friday that she filed a classified letter to the CIA in February of that year as an official protest about the interrogation program," the Post reported. "Harman said she had been prevented from publicly discussing the letter or the CIA's program because of strict rules of secrecy. ‘When you serve on intelligence committee you sign a second oath -- one of secrecy,' she said. ‘I was briefed, but the information was closely held to just the Gang of Four. I was not free to disclose anything.'"

There is compelling evidence that Goss approved continuing the wiretap on the Israeli agent after seeing Harman's involvement, and in fact tried to get a wiretap up on Harman herself. The internecine battles between Goss and Harman go back a ways, so it's not impossible. We learned yesterday that the wiretap in question did not come from the NSA, and so CIA may have had some direct control over it, although the proper chain of command would have been the FBI. Why was Goss so involved in this?

Of course, none of this changes the fact that Harman did, as has been confirmed by multiple sources, approach the Washington editor of the New York Times in 2004, before the Bush-Kerry election, to try and get them to spike the warrantless wiretapping story. Nor does it change the fact that Harman, a full-throated supporter of wiretapping, now has become a civil liberties champion when denouncing the surveillance of her. This must be why she's hired Lanny Davis to do spin control (and surely he can do a better job than her disastrous efforts so far).

Finally, Jon Stewart skewers this story as only he could.

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