Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Balko Nails Harman

Balko has a pretty devastating post about Rep. Jane Harman. I’m sure by now you’ve heard that the NSA may have caught Harman on wiretaps offering a quid pro quo to two Israeli lobbyists (we don’t know at this point if that’s true, she denies it and the tape has not been produced). Balko notes that Harman has been a supporter of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program:

Rep. Harman, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, has long been an aggressive defender of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, calling federal whistleblowers who revealed the program’s abuses “despicable,” and at one point even suggesting criminal prosecution of the New York Times for revealing how the program may have been in violation of U.S. law.


Harman later said she opposes the warrantless part of the wiretap process, but she was informed that it was going on long before it was made public by the Times and did nothing at all to stop it. And then, as noted, her outrage was aimed at those who blew the whistle on the illegal program rather than at the program itself. Now, though, she’s suddenly discovered how horrible wiretaps are:

Suddenly, Harman isn’t so fond of NSA’s wiretapping program, or the idea of federal eavesdropping in general, even though the tap on her own phone was legal, and administered after federal officials actually bothered to secure a warrant. Yesterday on CNN, Harman unleashed a torrent of (self) righteous indignation:

I’m just very disappointed that my country — I’m an American citizen just like you are — could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I’m one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I’m thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening in on their conversations, and they’re innocent Americans.

Yeah, except you were one of the people who permitted it to happen. You were in a position to do something about it and you did nothing and then you attacked those who revealed it to the public. Greenwald piles on:

So if I understand this correctly — and I’m pretty sure I do — when the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of the law, that was “both legal and necessary” as well as “essential to U.S. national security,” and it was the “despicable” whistle-blowers (such as Thomas Tamm) who disclosed that crime and the newspapers which reported it who should have been criminally investigated, but not the lawbreaking government officials. But when the U.S. Government legally and with warrants eavesdrops on Jane Harman, that is an outrageous invasion of privacy and a violent assault on her rights as an American citizen, and full-scale investigations must be commenced immediately to get to the bottom of this abuse of power. Behold Jane Harman’s overnight transformation from Very Serious Champion of the Lawless Surveillance State to shrill civil liberties extremist.

Ain’t that a coinkydink.