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WTF? Harman: I Didn't Know Surveillance Program Broke The Law

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mod mom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 08:58 PM
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WTF? Harman: I Didn't Know Surveillance Program Broke The Law
Harman: I Didn't Know Surveillance Program Broke The Law
By Paul Kiel - March 31, 2008, 6:03PM

Earlier this month, we published an excerpt from Eric Lichtblau's new book, Bush's Law, in which Lichtblau wrote that when he'd approached Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), then the ranking member of the House intelligence committee, about the administration's then-still-secret warrantless wiretapping program, she'd shushed him and told him that The New York Times did the right thing by not publishing the story in 2004.

In a post at TPMCafe today, Harman doesn't dispute Lichtblau's telling of the interaction, but does dispute that her position on the program underwent "a dramatic transformation," as Lichtblau writes, after Lichtblau and James Risen of the Times broke the story under the headline "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts" in December of 2005.

Before the story broke, she writes, she had no clue that "the Administration was violating FISA." She writes that the gang of eight had been briefed on "an NSA effort to track al Qaeda communications using unique access points inside the US telecommunications infrastructure," but that they'd been told nothing about warrantless wiretapping. Her "first inkling that the program was in not compliance with FISA but was conducted pursuant to claims of inherent executive power," she writes, came after the story broke, when she was free to consult her staff.


Jane Harman Comments on The Release of Bush's Law by Eric Lichtblau
?By Rep. Jane Harman - March 31, 2008, 6:01PM

Eric Lichtblau's new book due out this week, Bush's Law, contains a passage implying that I switched my view on the NSA surveillance program supporting it when it was a secret and opposing it after it was leaked.

Let me set the record straight.

When I became Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee in 2003, I was included for the first time in highly classified briefings on the operational details of an NSA effort to track al Qaeda communications using unique access points inside the US telecommunications infrastructure. The so-called Gang of Eight (selected on the basis of our committee or leadership positions) was told that if the terrorists found out about our capability, they would stop using those communications channels and valuable intelligence would dry up (which had happened before).

This program was so highly classified that I could discuss it with no one, not even my colleagues on the Intelligence Committee or the committees professional staff. (See p. 169 of the Lichtblau book.) And I was assured that it complied with the law and that the senior-most officials in the Justice Department conducted a full legal review every 45-60 days.

The premise of strong congressional intelligence oversight is that Members will guard sensitive information. All of the post-Nixon civil liberties reforms of the 1970s including creation of the intelligence oversight committees and the passage of FISA itself (which requires robust reporting to Congress) are designed to position Congress and the courts as an effective check against unfettered executive power. The Gang of Eight was not told nor did it occur to me that the Administration was violating FISA, despite Congress clear legislative intent when FISA was passed that it was the exclusive means for monitoring the communications of Americans connected to foreign intelligence.


HARMAN, Jane L., a Representative from California; born in New York, N.Y., June 28, 1945; graduated from University High School, Los Angeles, Calif., 1962; B.A., Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 1966, J.D., Harvard University School of Law, Cambridge, Mass., 1969; staff for United States Senator John V. Tunney of California, 1972-1973; adjunct professor, Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C., 1974-1975; chief counsel and staff director, United States Senate Judiciary subcommittee on constitutional rights, 1975-1977; deputy secretary to the cabinet, The White House, 1977-1978; special counsel, Department of Defense, 1979; elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Third and to the two succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1993-January 3, 1999); was not a candidate for reelection to One Hundred Sixth Congress in 1998, but was an unsuccessful candidate for nomination as governor of California; elected as a Democrat to the One Hundred Seventh and to the three succeeding Congresses (January 3, 2001-present).

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bemildred Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-31-08 09:00 PM
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1. Seems like more than enough reason to fire her. nt
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