Intelligence Chief: Harman Wiretap Not NSA

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Washington—Top United States intelligence officials said on Monday that the National Security Agency was not responsible for placing a wiretap that reportedly intercepted phone conversations made by Representative Jane Harman.

The National Intelligence Director, Dennis Blair, refused to name the agency that did implement the wiretap and also oversaw the information taken from Harman’s conversations.

The only other agency that has the authority to place wiretaps on phone calls inside the United States, besides the National Security Agency, is the Justice Department—which requires approval from the court.

Reports from the media suggest that the material recorded contained evidence that Harman, a California Democrat, was providing special treatment for two former pro-Israel activists. The activists were later indicted on federal charges of unlawfully possessing and disclosing classified information.

Harman would like the Justice Department to release a transcript of the tapped phone conversation, which happened prior to 2006.

Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, confirmed last week that the U.S. government officials had informed her that Harman had been overheard on a wiretap.

Pelosi also said that she had not told Harman of these facts. The first time Harman heard of these allegations was last week, from a reporter who had known about the transcript.

A report by the Congressional Quarterly released information that Harman was caught in a National Security Agency wiretap agreeing to seek lenient treatment from the Bush administration for two former employees of the American Israel Public Affairs committee.

According to the Congressional Quarterly, Harman hoped that the prominent pro-Israel contributors would influence Pelosi to appoint Harman to the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee.

After the terrorist attacks September 11, 2001, former President George W. Bush secretly authorized the NSA to intercept phone conversations and e-mails inside the United States. These interceptions continued for more than five years, to the chagrin of Bush administration critics.

 

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