The War On Pelosi And Harman: It's About Torture

CQ's Jeff Stein continues to be the vehicle for the Republican attacks on Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA). Now Politico's Glenn Thrush joins the GOP team:

Many Republicans obliged, led by former CIA chief Porter Goss, who is accusing Democrats like Pelosi of “amnesia” for demanding investigations in 2009 after failing to raise objections seven years ago when she first learned of the legal basis for the program.

There is the line of attack on Pelosi, who is not afraid of the truth -- she is calling for a Truth Commission. But getting Pelosi is not enough. Jane Harman, who objected to torture at the time, also needs to be smeared. And CQ's Jeff Stein is the vehicle for it. More . . .

Make no mistake about it. This is about torture. Nothing else. Does anyone REALLY believe Republicans care whether Jane Harman was wiretapped or not, and what was said on those wiretaps? NOW Dennis Hastert has something to say about it? Who does Jeff Stein think he is kidding?

Incensed that Bush officials had ignored their obligation to alert him, Hastert demanded an explanation from then-Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, Hastert said in an April 25 email.

But Hastert, a former Illinois Republican, was rebuffed, he said. Hastert directed his staff to inform his Democratic counterpart, then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi , D-Calif., about the Harman wiretap. “In the fall of 2006 a member of my staff was approached by a whistleblower and told that a member of Congress was captured on audiotape while talking to someone who was a target of a legally authorized wiretap related to an espionage investigation,” Hastert said in the e-mail response to questions from Congressional Quarterly. . . . “The whistleblower came forward because an important protocol was being ignored whereby the congressional leadership is notified of such intercepts,” Hastert said. “Specifically, I was told that the whistleblower indicated that the CIA director was being blocked from briefing the leadership.”

The whistleblower had charged that Negroponte, a career diplomat before he became the first to head the ODNI in 2005, was responsible for blocking Goss from informing House leaders, former Hastert chief of staff Scott Palmer said. “Normally the briefing would have come from the CIA, but the CIA was now controlled by the DNI,” Palmer said. “So the whistleblower’s concern that the DNI was blocking the briefing seemed credible. But we never did know who precisely who was stopping it.”

The whistleblower? Ooookaaay. And now Negroponte was the one blockng the briefing. Stein changes his story every day. But who was this "whistleblower?"

The identity of the whistleblower, “who seemed to be very familiar with the thinking at CIA headquarters,” according to Palmer, was withheld because of a promise of confidentiality.

Sounds like Porter Goss to me. Now here's the part that gets interesting:

The information was so sensitive, Palmer said, he and another aide composed and typed Hastert’s letter to Gonzales themselves, rather than dictating it to a secretary. The two aides then summoned William Moschella, then the Justice Department’s chief of congressional liaison, to pick up the letter in person, “to signify how important we viewed the matter,” Palmer said.

It is one thing to claim that "protocol" requires that Congressional leaders be informed that a Congressperson was caught on a wiretap. It is quite another to disclose the information. This is clearly against the law and against the entire idea that Goss I mean, the "whistleblower," has some altruisitc motive. Stein must thnk we are a bunch of chumps.

It's becoming quite clear what is happening here - in addition to smearing Pelosi and Harman, Porter Goss and his acolytes are settling scores. Negroponte and Hayden took over when Goss was unceremoniously dumped as CIA Director.

Here's the more likely story:

Hastert’s staff learned they would not be getting a briefing. “Basically, they told us, ‘There’s really nothing here that would warrant notifying the leadership, we’re not going to come and brief you,’” Palmer said. At that point, Hastert’s aides grew concerned that the whistleblower “was becoming agitated” and that the existence of the wiretap might surface, which would have the twin effect of exposing a highly classified operation and unfairly “smearing” Harman as a foreign agent herself. “We did not have any reason to believe that Harman was a security risk,” Palmer said. “We knew her to be a highly respected member of Congress.”

(Emphasis supplied.) We'll see what the next tall tale Jeff Stein is fed to try and give this nonsensical story legs. After all, can't have people talking about torture.

Speaking for me only

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    Stein needs to either (none / 0) (#1)
    by andgarden on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:00:26 AM EST
    come forward with his source, or stop publishing this stuff. If it's Goss or some Republican flunky, we need to know (heck, it's already pretty clear that that's the case).

    And all aimed (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:21:09 AM EST
    at stopping torture investigations.

    But some, including some on this thread, do not see how they are being played.


    So.... (none / 0) (#2)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:15:55 AM EST
    Dems (especially Pelosi) have clean hands in all of this?  I don't think it's mutually exclusive - because the Republicans supported torture and don't want a "Truth Commission" (which Obama doesn't either, BTW), means Pelosi et al are defenders of justice?

    Am I reading your thesis incorrectly?

    Hardly (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:18:39 AM EST
    But Pelosi is prepared to let the chips fall.

    The people behind these smears are trying to block the truth.

    Do you not get that?


    I get that (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:34:02 AM EST
    if Pelosi were really prepared to let the chips fall, she would call for an independent special prosecutor and she would start talking about what she knew and when she knew it.  She wouldn't fall behind the  "I want a Truth Commission" line, because she knows a) it will never happen, or b) it will happen but be so toothless as to mean nothing.

    Pelosi doesn't want the truth to come out any more than Goss.


    Truth Commission is a start (none / 0) (#11)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:44:29 AM EST
    The Stein sources want that stopped.

    I'm not convinced that Pelosi (none / 0) (#18)
    by Anne on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 10:49:02 AM EST
    knew as much of the truth as people seem to think she did, and I think she is not the only one in that boat.  There were too many games being played with briefings - go read Marcy Wheeler - speculation that different people were given different briefings, depending on whether they were viewed as being potential roadblocks to the plans.

    I also think it is important to understand that what we think of as a "briefing" may not bear any resemblance to what the Gangs of Four and Eight were given.  And since they were prevented from discussing them, it's hard to know what they really knew.

    I think it is also possible that Pelosi and Harman would like the truth to come out because it is going to be the only way to clear their names of the smears - and even if their interest is more personal than professional, if it helps move us closer to a bigger truth, that would be a good thing.


    Much ado about motives (none / 0) (#3)
    by herb the verb on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:15:55 AM EST
    If we waited for people with altruistic motives to come forward on every piece of wrong-doing we would be waiting a long time.

    Here is what I want to know;

    1. Did CIA/FBI/NSA abuse their wiretapping programs to spy on members of Congress for blackmail purposes (and if the blackmail was criminal wrong-doing, I'm not going to complain that it is unfair to expose that as part of the bargain).
    2. Did Harman have a phone conversation with a member of AIPAC, where she engages in a conspiracy to use her influence (what little she may or may not have had, regardless of whether she used it or not) in exchange for help toward a juicy chairmanship.
    3. The details of CIA/US Military/any US entity engaging in torture, who ordered it, who performed, and on whom.

    Frankly, I have no need to defend Pelosi or Harman. If the truth comes out and they did no wrong, they have little to worry about (our government is 100% controlled by Democrats and they will be protected). Personally, I can multitask by calling for an investigation into all wrong-doing and not worry about the outcome too much. In fact, if details have to be exposed to protect Democrats, that just means that details will be revealed.

    Isn't that a good thing?

    Of course you are being played (none / 0) (#5)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:20:07 AM EST
    Release the transcripts and let's find out.

    No one will do that.

    You enjoy this smearing be selective leak?

    all to stop a torture investigation?> You are just the guy Stein wants.

    You are being played.


    does it not seem (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:33:44 AM EST
    that this is moving past their ability to stop an investigation of some kind.  it seems to me it is.
    and if they succeed in stopping any sort of independent investigation wont they be stuck with a congressional investigation which could be worse for them in the end?

    or is that what they want?  are they rooting for a congressional white wash?


    I think that they would like (none / 0) (#9)
    by inclusiveheart on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:37:37 AM EST
    to avoid any and all investigations, but that they'd be happier with on in Congress mostly because they could do this kind of smear thing and muddy the waters all the way along if they had to.  Who knows how many leaks about wiretaps and memos (none of which will actually be produced for examination) they can come up with.  One thing that I can say for the pro-torture crowd is that they do have imagination and coming up with all kinds of stories is not hard for them it seems.

    You aren;t paying attention then (none / 0) (#10)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:43:35 AM EST
    Did you not hear Obama, the Senate Dem leadership and the Village yet?



    no (none / 0) (#13)
    by Capt Howdy on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:54:04 AM EST
    do I want to?

    If you want to know (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:56:43 AM EST
    how the debate is going, you need to.

    We know more now than we did 2 weeks ago (none / 0) (#15)
    by herb the verb on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 10:20:37 AM EST
    and alot of that is Dem (including Harman) pushback on leaks designed to discredit them (her).

    Dem leaks are (and will) continue to combat Republican leaks. There is no way that Goss is going to unscramble this egg regarding torture although I'm sure he is trying. Investigations will happen.

    I respect your intelligence, please respect mine. Anyway, I fail to see what I can do to stop a process that is going to play out regardless. Complain to CQ that Stein has to stop publishing things he is told by sources, because they have ulterior motives?

    Things are either true or not true, regardless of motives involved in their disclosure.

    Sorry, I'm just 'stomping for truth'. I guess that makes me a fool being played in this instance. If I needed that treatment I would go to Kos.


    What do you THINK you know? (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 10:25:21 AM EST
    Some things we now know (none / 0) (#17)
    by herb the verb on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 10:48:50 AM EST
    1. We know that FBI wiretap information was widely and illegally disseminated in the Bush Administration and used to blackmail at least one Dem congressperson.
    2. We know that this information was spread to congressional staffers.
    3. We know there is a concerted effort, by former administration officials, using "classified" information and (likely) illegally obtained wiretap info, to discredit current congress critters in an attempt to cover their own wrongdoing.
    4. We know that there is serious enough wrongdoing for them to need to do this and for them to pull out all stops to prevent any investigations.
    5. We know that to protect their reputations, certain Dems are going to have to expose other details of what has happened over the last 6-7 years. These details will lead to more details and dots will continue to be connected.

    Mostly, wrong-doing is exposed by the wrong-doers and their cohorts trying to cover their own asses, in other words, people with very impure motives. Just like Iran-Contra, Watergate, etc.. Anyway, this process is going to play out regardless, I just think it is more constructive to find out what the truth is, yes, that includes determining what the motives may be, but only so far as determining the truth.

    So my view is, I hope they keep talking, if they are telling lies, then further talking on their part will expose what they are saying as lies.


    You do not know any of those things (none / 0) (#19)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:03:37 AM EST
    Neither do I for the record (none / 0) (#20)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:06:43 AM EST
    I suspect 3 and 5, but I do not KNOW any of it.

    Ok, some points taken (none / 0) (#21)
    by herb the verb on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:34:43 AM EST
    However, when Pelosi's aides admit they got this information at the time, I tend to believe them.

    However, if what you say is true regarding "knowing", then you would have to admit you don't KNOW who is making these leaks or what their true motives are either. Although we suspect the same thing, btw.

    I'm pretty sure I want what you want: investigations into torture, investigations in how wiretap information was used and abused in the Bush administration, and also, in my case at least but I imagine yours as well, disclosure of all the embarrassing details of the actions of people on both sides of the aisle.

    I don't like how the leak game is played in Washington, but it is what it is, and if it causes pushback to where people have to defend themselves by disclosing more information, I'm down with that. I'm only interested in motives where it goes toward peeling more layers off the onion and determining what is true and what is not true.

    Right now, I don't know if what Harman is accused of doing is true or not. I'm withholding judgement on that. I take it as a given that the motives of the people leaking this are impure. But if it is true, I want to know. Don't you?


    I just admitted it (none / 0) (#22)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 11:57:15 AM EST
    Wasn't Goss (none / 0) (#12)
    by lilburro on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 09:45:49 AM EST
    supposedly the one that requested the wiretap to begin with?  Now he's also the one dying to share the information with Congressional leaders.

    He's got a personal vendetta against Harman I guess...and of course for a Bushie, what's the purpose of government other than the pursuit of personal vendettas?

    The mental leaps (none / 0) (#23)
    by Slado on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 12:13:50 PM EST
    BTD and others are forced to make in order to single in on republicans is laughable.

    This issue has boiled down to a pure partisan political football.

    I suggest you move on to something else or you're likely to get "Plamed" again.

    The more I read the words torture and war crimes the more democrats/liberals/progressives water down their true meaning.

    Enough already.

    you know (none / 0) (#24)
    by CST on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 12:17:30 PM EST
    it's not like btd has called out the obama justice department at all, or guys like blair who are currently in the cia - under obama.

    Nope, it's just partisan hackery.

    Glad the words torture and war crimes mean nothing to you.  I hope you can sleep at night.


    Then you are fine with torture. (none / 0) (#26)
    by herb the verb on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 12:20:49 PM EST
    Got it. Understood.

    AP says Dennis Blair sd. it (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Mon Apr 27, 2009 at 12:19:07 PM EST
    wasn't a NSA tap.  Of course he didn't say implemented the tap--just not NSA.