Politics

HackWatch: Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.)

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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. 

Earlier this week, the New York Times reported that Harman "was overheard on telephone calls intercepted by the National Security Agency agreeing to seek lenient treatment from the Bush administration for two pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage." In return, "the caller promised her that a wealthy California donor…would threaten to withhold campaign contributions to Representative Nancy Pelosi…if she did not select Ms. Harman for the intelligence post."

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.

I don't really see any ameliorating factors, here. Harman gets the first perfect score—a 10 out of 10—on the somewhat arbitrary Hackery Index.

If you see an example of a pundit, politician, major blogger, or other Beltway creature who's done a 180 on this or another issue, please send it here, with links, and "HackWatch" in the subject line. Prior installments of HackWatch here.

(Hat tip: Glenn Greenwald)