Scary stuff about the surveillance state, and about my new least-favorite representative.

This whole article is pretty terrifying, but here’s the worst bit:

In April 2007, for instance, in a bid to legalize the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps, Congressional representative Jane Harman (Democrat of California) offered a particularly extreme example of this urge. She introduced the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, proposing a powerful national commission, functionally a standing “star chamber,” to “combat the threat posed by homegrown terrorists based and operating within the United States.” The bill passed the House by an overwhelming 404-to-6 vote before stalling, and then dying, in a Senate somewhat more mindful of civil liberties.

Only weeks after Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, Harman’s life itself became a cautionary tale about expanding electronic surveillance. According to information leaked to the Congressional Quarterly, in early 2005, an NSA wiretap caught Harman offering to press the Bush Justice Department for reduced charges against two pro-Israel lobbyists accused of espionage. In exchange, an Israeli agent offered to help Harman gain the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee by threatening House Democratic majority leader Nancy Pelosi with the loss of a major campaign donor. As Harman put down the phone, she said, “This conversation doesn’t exist.”

How wrong she was. An NSA transcript of Harman’s every word soon crossed the desk of CIA Director Porter Goss, prompting an FBI investigation that, in turn, was blocked by then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales. As it happened, the White House knew that the New York Times was about to publish its sensational revelation of the NSA’s warrantless wiretaps, and felt it desperately needed Harman for damage control among her fellow Democrats. In this commingling of intrigue and irony, an influential legislator’s defense of the NSA’s illegal wiretapping exempted her from prosecution for a security breach discovered by an NSA wiretap.

I hadn’t heard about this story before, but apparently it broke back on April. Salon. CQ. TPM.

This is horrifying. Worse is that Jane Harman represents the district in which I grew up. I want her out of office, now.


7 Responses to “Scary stuff about the surveillance state, and about my new least-favorite representative.”

  1. homais Says:

    I remember that Israel business from when it broke. You mean Harman wasn’t hustled out of office after that happened? Sheesh.

  2. ben Says:

    So can she be prosecuted now?

  3. Paul Gowder Says:

    Prosecuted would be bad (no convictions from totally illegal wiretaps please). Voted out of office in favor of anything, even a brain-damaged fascist chimpanzee, would be favorite.

  4. Paul Gowder Says:

    I’m kind of tempted to briefly move back to my mom’s place in November ‘10 and run a rage-campaign against her myself.

  5. Akio Says:

    I heard about this, but “star chamber?” Did she literally say “star chamber?” Because what the hell.

  6. Steve M. Says:

    Maybe Harman just really likes this movie?

    At any rate, it’s not clear to me that the quotation marks mean the article is quoting Harman. Maybe they’re just unnecessary, meant to signal that here star chamber is a metaphor or historical allusion?

  7. Aaron Says:

    Nope, that not how it is…

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