Even More Hot Water For Jane Harman? NYTimes Corroborates CQ Story

Boy, wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall when Jane Harman runs into John Kerry after this choice bit from Jeff Stein:

According to two officials privy to the events, Gonzales said he "needed Jane" to help support the administration’s warrantless wiretapping program, which was about to be exposed by the New York Times.

Harman, he told Goss, had helped persuade the newspaper to hold the wiretap story before, on the eve of the 2004 elections. And although it was too late to stop the Times from publishing now, she could be counted on again to help defend the program.

Kind of makes you wonder how that next Democratic caucus meeting in the House is going to go.  So far all’s quiet on the democratic front.  More interestingly, the GOP is as well.

Above and beyond questions of being a traitor to the nation by offering to give a hand to an accused spy by "waddling into" an ongoing criminal investigation in exchange for personal job favors?   Which Harman is testily denying at this point. 

Jeff Stein, however, says he has three separate sources who corroborate his piece. Having spent the last few years digging through any number of stories by a myriad of reporters, I have to say that Jeff is very careful in what he writes.  And having three sources with overlapping information?  Sounds pretty careful to me. 

Especially when Lewis & Mazzetti of NYTimes have confirmed with their own sources, who add some interesting details to the mix.  Including that Harman allegedly said she’d have more influence with an unnamed WH official.  And that the caller would have a big CA donor threaten to cut off funds to Nancy Pelosi if Harman didn’t get the intel chair. 

Note that the statement from Harman’s office fails to mention any WH or other official Bush/Cheney administration discussion, only a curt denial of DOJ contact:

Congresswoman Harman has never contacted the Justice Department about its prosecution of present or former Aipac employees.

Curiouser and curiouser.

But Harman also stands accused of screwing over the entire Democratic party — and the country — by stifling the NSA domestic wiretapping story before the 2004 election.

Imagine what serious problems that stifled NSA story could have caused for the Bush/Cheney re-election bid.  Along with raising serious issues for GOP candidates who were rubber-stamping Bush Administration policies.

Wonder who would have asked Harman to intervene? Possibilities are endless.

Here’s the even more interesting part of the story, though:  yesterday, Bill Keller denied Harman had any role in persuading him to hold the NYTimes wiretapping story.  No mention of contact with Pinch.  Or not.  Curious.

In the Lewis & Mazzetti story this morning, Keller further clarifies that Harman DID contact Philip Taubman, then the Washington bureau chief for the Times at the request of Gen. Michael Hayden, to ask that the NSA wiretapping story not run.  This contact occurred in October or November of 2004. 

Why, that’s right before the election, isn’t it?  Funny how that dovetails into what Jeff Stein reported. 

But that raises even more questions for me. As does this "weak tea" denial from Keller:

“She did not speak to me,” Mr. Keller said, “and I don’t remember her being a significant factor in my decision.”

Taking a page from the Alberto Gonzales school of "I don’t recall" covering all manner of sins, are we? Or does he really not recall? A bit wishy washy, isn’t it? 

Was it Harman or some unnamed WH official who led Gonzales to believe that Harman had significant NYTimes influence?  Did Gonzales tell Goss that Harman had helped out on the NSA story to keep Goss from pushing prosecution for her? Was that a lie on Gonzo’s part? Or had someone up the chain lied to him: Harman, herself, or someone else? Or did Goss have a faulty memory about this? 

Who is the mystery WH official over which Harman felt she had influence?  Or was that bluster?

Is this something wholly fabricated by sources who wanted to stab Harman in the back and, if so, why?  It sure doesn’t seem like it, but the "potential payback for what" question is especially intriguing, isn’t it?

Those are an awful lot of unanswered questions in a story that keeps getting juicier by the nugget, aren’t they?

Looking back, the whole "Harman to run Obama’s CIA" rumor is even more laughable, isn’t it?  But just imagine the joy had Harman been appointed at CIA and Kerry at State…holy hell in a handbasket, talk about dodging a bullet.

Jeff Stein has even more today, as do Laura Rozen and Glenn.

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