Rogue Agents Tipped Pelosi To Harman Wiretap
“Intelligence officials, angry that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had blocked an FBI investigation into Democratic Rep. Jane Harman’s interactions with a suspected Israeli agent, tipped off Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader, that Harman had been picked up on a court-ordered National Security Agency wiretap targeting the agent,” CQ’s Jeff Stein reports. “In doing so, the officials flouted an order by Gonzales not to inform Pelosi, three former national security officials said.”
Surely, whether to pursue an investigation is the prerogative of the AG, not bureaucrats in the intelligence community. The details of the wiretap were classified and Pelosi had no need to know, meaning the leakers committed felonies. [Or maybe not. See update]
UPDATE: Mike Soraghan, Susan Crabtree, Jared Allen, reporting for The Hill, connect some important dots.
This means the Speaker knew about the wiretap when she decided to stop Harman from becoming chairwoman of the House Intelligence Committee.
It also blunts Harman’s (D-Calif.) allegation that her eavesdroppers acted improperly.
Pelosi said it was a “few years ago, maybe three years ago” when she was informed of the recording and noted that leadership is informed when a member is caught on a wiretap. The Speaker added she did not tell Harman of her knowledge because the information was classified. “When you have a member of Congress who is overheard in a wiretap … the leadership is informed, and that happened at that time,” Pelosi said on Wednesday at a breakfast sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. “It was not my position to raise it with Jane Harman … All they said is that she was wiretapped.”
It’s unclear whether “leadership is informed when a member is caught on a wiretap” is a custom, a legal requirement, or inartful phrasing on Pelosi’s part.
UPDATE: Kevin Drum observes, “CIA is engaged in some pretty serious message sending against people they don’t like. My guess: I don’t know how Harman is going to weather all this, but I don’t think it’s going to turn out well for the CIA. They may have gone a couple of steps too far this time.”
In OTB’s comments below, Bernard Finel counters, “If I were an FBI agent and I saw that kind of borderline criminal behavior from my boss, I’d be tempted to play whistleblower as well. Frankly, we could have used more whistleblowers during the past 8 years, not fewer.” I’m not unsympathetic to that view. But I lean more toward’s Drum’s instinct that it’s horribly bad to have our bureaucratic functionaries deciding to use national security secrets to settle political scores.
We haven’t heard to last of this one.