Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's Not So Plain, Jane

I just heard an interview on Pacifica radio with my congresswoman, Jane Harman about the allegations in the press today, first broken in Congressional Journal, that she told an  Israeli representative that she would intercede on behalf of two members of American Israeli Public Affairs Committee charged with espionage.  This alleged conversation was captured on NSA wiretaps. Harman, in an interesting PR move came out swinging, complaining that SHE, of all people, was wiretapped.  She also denied the allegations but only after several minutes of asserting angrily that she knew nothing about being wiretapped and that an investigation should be started in why she was wiretapped.  A good defense is a good offense.  However, to me she came across as shrill and unbelievable, an observation shared by others.  Perhaps it would have been better to stick to a letter like the one she sent to Eric Holder.

I have only good feelings for Rep. Harman based on my personal interactions with her. First, she is a Smithie and we alumae need to stick together.  Second, when my husband and I took our children on the standard trip to the Nation's Capital years ago, she was very gracious in spending some time with us when we stopped by her office.  Finally, and most importantly, she was very helpful in interceding with the State Department in Micronesia when my son was jailed there four years ago for something he said on his radio station that offended a powerful Micronesian.  I was lucky to have a contact in her office who helped us get Rep. Harman to make several communications to the embassy in Pohnpei, who were not doing anything to get my son out of jail and to get back his passport.

So understandably I find the current allegations disturbing.   The line that supposedly occurs in the wiretap transcripts "We never had this conversation" is perhaps the most disturbing, particularly in light of the stance that she is now offended by being wiretapped without her knowledge.  I look forward with hope to an explanation of this conversation that is more benign although given that politics are politics I fear that this story may only get worse.

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