Stein calls Harman’s phone-mate ‘suspected Israeli double agent’ (No wonder he wants to sell movie rights)

On antiwar.com, there is a fine interview by Scott Horton of Jeff Stein of CQ, regarding his blockbuster story, in which Stein describes Harman's phone-mate of 2005 as a "suspected Israeli double agent" and suggests that the agent was not Haim Saban. 
Key bits:
On hearing the tape, Justice Department lawyers' felt that they had caught Harman in a "completed crime" that demanded investigation. Stein defined completed crime as a "prima facie case that a crime was committed, in this case, that she did something in exchange for something, in other words, a sort of pay-for-play or influence peddling kind of thing… It looks like, by just merely promising to do that, merely promising to do that, she had committed a crime…. to do a favor in exchange for something of value, which is to say, to get appointed to be the chair of the House intelligence committee."
Of course: "Ms. Harman may have all kinds of innocent explanations for this conversation."
Stein also said that Harman was swept up in a continuation of the investigation of former AIPAC staffers, Steve Rosen and Ken Weissman, who had been indicted some months before–"an outgrowth of that or a continuation of that." I.e., the wiretapping was not part of the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretapping program, though the NSA was called in to perform electronic surveillance of "this target."
The investigation the Justice Department lawyers wanted of Jane Harman never started, Stein said, because Alberto Gonzales wanted Harman, "a prominent Democrat on the Hill who was above reproach" to support the Administration politically on that controversial, aforementioned, secret warrantless wiretapping program. As she did. "He didn't want any dirt on Jane Harman to be made public."
More: "This sounds like a bad, bad movie… The whole thing sounds like a Washington thriller, sort of like State of Play… I'm hoping someone buys the movie rights."
Horton brings up Haim Saban.
But Stein says, We have not identified who the target was– "who was the suspected Israeli double agent."
Horton asks about Saban a second time.
Stein: "I do not have that. I was told by one of my sources that he was not the target."
Did she know he was an agent of the Israeli government, rather than just an influential lobbyist?
"That is a really interesting question, which hasn't been answered yet."

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel Lobby, US Policy in the Middle East

{ 11 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. D. says:

    So did Harman ever even know that Gonzalez had quashed an investigation into her influence peddling? In other words, did she know that Gonzalez knew?

  2. Sin Nombre says:

    Seems to me this fills in a big blank spot as regards the whys and wherefores of the tapping that caught Harman.

    That is, when it was said that they got this recording you wondered about the validity of the tap. If for instance they were tapping an Israeli and especially a person who worked for the Israeli government, then okay, the U.S. is pretty much free to do the hell out of this and doesn't need probable cause or a warrant or etc. That's just its normal counter-intelligence work and indeed duty.

    But it didn't sound like the kind of conversation that an Israeli government person would be having with Harman. In the first place the Israeli government probably wouldn't *use* such an employee to do that, and in the second the person sounded like they were rather casually and normally involved in American partisan politics.

    Now Harman says aha, it was an American, and talks all her talk about her regular talking with AIPAC. And not only does this utterly impeach her claim she doesn't know of what conversation is at issue, but it suggests of course that it was an American AIPAC person.

    So how was the U.S. validly taping this American? Well, with what Stein says above, it was an outgrowth of the Rosen/Weissman business. That is, I would suspect, the FBI had been doing some routine monitoring of Israeli embassy people suspected of being Mossad or spying a bit and they see all these contacts with AIPAC people so they do some watching. And what do they see but Rosen and Weissman and this Embassy guy palling around together and that's fine and legal, but then Franklin walks in and bada bing, suddenly they got what looks like espionage, and probable cause to do all kinds of things.

    Based on that and from there then they go and get actual search warrants for AIPAC offices of course, but now also I suspected they got a warrant to tap AIPAC phones too and it was under this warrant and tap that they got Harman.

    So if this is the case now essentially it's going to be interesting to see Harman arguing the invalidity of the tapping; it wasn't Bush's warrantless tapping, it wasn't even the special FISA tapping that is done. It was via a regular old probable cause in regular old U.S. court warrant for a tap. (Or at least and again, I suspect.)

    And now it gets interesting because of course you first had Rosen and Weissman being fired by AIPAC saying that they engaged in unsanctioned conduct, but what the above suggests is that maybe we've got on tape some other AIPAC person trying to interfere with their prosecution too. Which leads not only to the question of why Harman alone is on the bubble: After all, shouldn't this person be under the prosecution gun too for attempted obstruction of justice, not to mention attempted bribery of a public official? And, if indeed an AIPAC person, why shouldn't all of AIPAC as an organization be under that gun too?

    Funny to see Harman trying to enlist her colleague's anger on her behalf talking so outraged about congresspeople being tapped. Not just the fact that she's been such a big advocate of easier tapping of *us*, but if anything just common sense would say that congress *ought* to be tapped more often because if anywhere that's where you're going to find public corruption.

    Indeed, wouldn't it be nice to see a grassroots movement to say that the Justice Department can tap the phones of congresspeople without probable cause at all, or with a lesser showing of need than usual? Make it a kind of requirement of the job that congresspeople agree to this? After all, what have they got to hide? They work for us allegedly. Don't we have the right to monitor them they way they are so eager to see us monitored?

    Yet another observation: Even if Harman never actually tried to interfere with the Rosen/Weissman prosecution, isn't she going to be hard put to say that she never ever ever had any conversations with any White House or Justice people about that prosecution, at least generally? I mean, she being so close to AIPAC and then on the Intell committee, nuts, of *course* she talked about it to at least some degree with someone. Otherwise it's like believing Clarence Thomas when he said he had never talked to anyone even in law school about Roe v. Wade.

    Indeed notice her invoking the name of David Szady the former FBI/Justice guy in charge of counter-intell for awhile citing him as saying she never tried to interfere with anything with him. Well, why the hell would he have even said that unless she *had* talked with him about things at least for *some* purposes?

    She's in a pickle and handling it badly so far. But the sole focus shouldn't be on her. Who was she talking to and where was this person from? And have the statutes of limitations for all the possible crimes involved really run out? And can anyone trust Democrat Obama to be fair investigating this and prosecuting the Democrat Harman if necessary?

    Special prosecutor! Special prosecutor!

    Hilarious.

  3. JES says:

    Well, well "Sin Nombre". You seem to be very up on intelligence and counter-intelligence matters. Perhaps you could tell us what the legal status is of the government employee who just happened to have access to the classified wiretap transcripts and then spoke to Stein about what these transcripts included?

  4. Here is my blog entry on Saban: Haim Saban and Duddy Kravitz.

    Even if Saban is not the Israel agent in this case, it is worth noting that Saban received a lot of unjustifiable investment and loans in 1975-6.

    It looks like a continuation of the policy of the Israeli labor government and its supporters in the USA and in France to make sure that Zionistically correct people were in critical media positions.

    The promotion of Saban does not seem to be associated with the Jabotinskian ethnonational financial warfare that was implemented by the "New Crowd" and the Israeli government from 1980 after the Jabotinskian takeover in Judonia and in the State of Israel.

    Because Saban seems to be a Labor Zionist creation, it is not surprising that Saban is associated with the Democratic and not with the Republican Party.

  5. Sin Nombre says:

    @ JES:

    Someone probably in violation of some employment regulations and very possibly some laws. But unlikely ever to be identified.

    I.e., depending on your point of view a contemptible leaker or a noble whistle-blower. A criminal or a patriot.

    History usually renders its verdict on such things. Like with Deep Throat.

  6. American says:

    Some of you STILL DON'T GET IT.

    You need to go back to the original reporting on the FBI surveillance of AIPAC and Israeli spying operations to know how Franklin, Rosen and Harman, et all got caught.

    From Richard Sale..best reporter on whole affair:

    "Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli embassy, had been under surveillance at least since 2001, when the FBI discovered new, ‘massive’ Israeli spying operations on the East Coast, including New York and New Jersey.

    "The FBI began intensive surveillance on certain Israeli diplomats and other suspects and was videotaping Naor Gilon, chief of political affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington, who was having lunch at a Washington hotel with two lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee lobby group. Federal law enforcement officials said they were floored when Franklin came up to their table and sat down.”

    As I said the FBI was after something much, much bigger than just regular AIPAC doings…there was a "massive" Israel spying operation going on in 2001 that the FBI was tracking..that is where all the Franklins, Rosens and Harmans got caught up.

    What were the Israelis doing in NY and NJ in 2001 that the FBI was watching? Stay tuned. Everything comes out sooner or later.

    Did it have anything to do with 911? I wouldn't put anything pass the zionist. From the days when they dressed up as Arabs to bomb the King David Hotel to today, deception and false flags have been their stock in trade.

  7. Julian says:

    "Did it have anything to do with 911? I wouldn't put anything pass the zionist. From the days when they dressed up as Arabs to bomb the King David Hotel to today, deception and false flags have been their stock in trade."

    What a vivid imagination. Somehow I can't imagine 19 Jews committing suicide. Suicide is not a big thing in Jewish or Zionist culture. Though in tne Muslim world it's become pretty common.
    With all the "massive" Israeli spying, no Israelis are charged with anything. How long do we have to stay tuned? It's been 8 years. Should we stay tuned for another 8?

  8. Suzanne's logic mentor says:

    "Suicide is not a big thing in Jewish or Zionist culture."
    Really? Ever heard of Masada?

  9. Sin Nombre says:

    American:

    I don't doubt that you're right that the FBI was indeed watching the Israelis initially and indeed would have been surprised if they weren't doing so routinely. And as to the "massive" spying operation I'd like to hear more if you would. On the other hand like Julian says it's been 8 years, and I suspect we won't be hearing much more about this otherwise. (Not because nothing was going on, but because the FBI probably was not primarily in its "law enforcement" mode looking into this but its "counter-intelligence" mode where its primary goal is to just watch and learn and try to (quietly) thwart.)

    But my puzzlement with the Harman thing arose out of the initial question of who is the suspected Israeli "agent" who was being tapped and whose conversation with Harman was caught. It just didn't sound to me like something an Israeli national/government employee would do. And yet of course one suspect and hopes we tap them and indeed all agents from all other countries all the time.

    In short I suspected an American, but then the question was where they got probable cause to tap him or her. And now at least I think I see the answer; it was after they saw Franklin and thus had more than probable cause to show a judge that espionage was indeed going on, so getting them their warrant(s).

    Not a huge thing, but that repeated reference to "Israeli agent" puzzled me. And now it seems that the leaker to the reporter was using that term as it was probably used in the warrant request: They had seen other Americans involved with the Israeli embassy guy and with Franklin, hence they had cause to call them and their cohorts "suspected Israeli agents."

    Like I said, maybe only of interest to me, but I wonder if it doesn't give a peek into what Harman's going to be relying on heavily. E.g., "I never *knowingly* talked to any Israeli agent and because I was talking to Americans I did nothing wrong" and blah blah blah." Or, for the truly stupid: "See! All these stories were slanders! There were no Israelis involved at all! This is McCarthyism!"

  10. American says:

    Huuummm…I wouldn't be too sure more will never come out about Israeli spies or 911. Remember the Israeli spy, a man living in NY, outed just last year that was Pollard's cohort?..I will have to goggle and get his name and find the outcome of the case. He was exposed after all these years because some old agency papers that had been 'misplaced' came to light. If memory serves the man is now 80 years and copted to charges…I will have to check to see what they did with him.

  11. D. says:

    "… it was after they saw Franklin and thus had more than probable cause to show a judge that espionage was indeed going on, so getting them their warrant(s)."

    Yes, but remember that the investigation was already going on for three or four years when Franklin unexpectedly walked into that restaurant. So they had other information as well.