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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

POLITICS-US: Prominent Lawmaker Caught Up In AIPAC Scandal By Daniel Luban

WASHINGTON, Apr 20 (IPS) - A U.S. government investigation of Israeli spying caught a prominent Democratic congresswoman discussing what is alleged to be a "quid pro quo" deal involving the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s powerful hawkish pro-Israel lobby.

Representative Jane Harman of California was recorded in 2005 on a National Security Administration (NSA) wiretap promising a suspected Israeli agent that she would intervene on behalf of two AIPAC staffers accused of passing classified information to the Israeli government, and her interlocutor responded by promising to help get Harman appointed to a top congressional intelligence post, according to an article published Sunday by Congressional Quarterly (CQ).

Perhaps even more notably, then-attorney general Alberto Gonzales later halted an FBI investigation of Harman’s actions because of Harman’s political value as a defender of the George W. Bush administration’s much-criticised warrantless wiretapping programme, the CQ report states.

The Harman scandal’s political repercussions appear to be growing, and it sits at the intersection of several controversial issues - among them, the influence of the "Israel lobby" on Capitol Hill, the complicity of top Democrats in Bush-era abuses, and the politicisation of judicial proceedings under the Bush administration.

Harman has a reputation as one of the Democratic Party’s foremost hawks, both on Israel-Palestine and on issues related to the "global war on terror". She has long enjoyed a close relationship with AIPAC, and is scheduled to speak at the group’s annual conference in May.


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