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Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) continued Monday to push back against a Congressional Quarterly story that alleges she offered to help a suspected Israeli agent quash a federal spy case against two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in return for help lobbying Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for the gavel of the House Intelligence Committee.
Harman denied the allegations in the CQ report, calling them an outrageous and recycled canard, and having no basis in fact. I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves.
But with blogs lighting up over the story on Monday, Harmans office offered a more full-throated response. Harmans chief of staff, John Hess, charged that the CQ story recycles three-year-old discredited reporting of largely unsourced material to manufacture a scoop out of widely known and unremarkable facts that Congresswoman Jane Harman is and has long been a supporter of AIPAC, and that some members of AIPAC regarded her as well-qualified to chair the House Intelligence Committee following the 2006 elections.
Hess continued, Congresswoman Harman has never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former AIPAC employees, and the Department has never informed her that she was or is the subject of or involved in an investigation.
Harmans alleged conversation was picked up on a National Security Agency wiretap, the CQ story said a fact that Hess said should be the focus of attention. If there is anything about this story that should arouse concern, it is that the Bush Administration may have been engaged in electronic surveillance of members of the congressional Intelligence Committees, he said.
Hess statement came shortly before Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a generally left-leaning watchdog group, issued a call for the Justice Department and the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate the allegations.
If Rep. Harman agreed to try to influence an ongoing criminal investigation in return for help securing a committee chairmanship, her conduct not only violates federal law and House rules, but also her oath to uphold the Constitution, CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said in a statement.