It looks like Jane Harman will not become the chair of the House Intelligence committee
:Because Pelosi is kicking Jane Harman off the Intelligence Committee. Harman is, of course, Jewish and very rightwing on Israel.
So now Nancy, whose views on Israel aren't very far from Harman's (although she is decidedly in favor of negotiations and the two-state solution) is a Peretz enemy. Today he actually compares Nancy to Bella Abzug (in my opinion, a compliment) which is a terrible slam coming from Peretz because Abzug was, oh the humanity, a liberal Jew who was a moderate on Israel.
Why am I telling you all this. I'm telling you this because everyone needs to know that Marty Peretz and his neocon buddies in the media are now all going to be bashing Pelosi nonstop.
Pelosi will get attacked viciously for this, but it is the right move. It isn't the right move because Harman is extremely right-wing on Israel. There are two other major pressing reasons that Harman should not be the chair. The first is that Harman is under investigation for illegally trying to use AIPAC in order to become the chair
:Did a Democratic member of Congress improperly enlist the support of a major pro-Israel lobbying group to try to win a top committee assignment? That's the question at the heart of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors, who are examining whether Rep. Jane Harman of California and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) may have violated the law in a scheme to get Harman reappointed as the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, according to knowledgeable sources in and out of the U.S. government.
The second reason is that the Democratic chair of the Intelligence committee should not be supporting Bush's illegal wiretapping program. Here is Harman defending the program on Fox News last year
:HUME: And outline, if you will, your concerns about those briefings.
HARMAN: All right. Well, first of all, the program we were briefed on in a very closed environment in the White House, with no staff present, on a basis that we could not discuss it with anyone, was basically a foreign collection program. I still support that program. And I think the leak of that program to The New York Times and maybe elsewhere compromises national security...
Harman is a Blue Dog, but that should not disqualify anyone from holding a committee chair. She is also not a wingnut. Outside of issues relating to national security and foreign policy, where she clearly is a neocon, she is basically a run of the mill Democrat--perhaps even in the liberal mainstream. However, the credibility of the new Democratic Congress is at stake here, and we can't have Democrats illegally winning committee chairs through lobbyist influence so they can support unconstitutional wire-tapping programs on Capitol Hill and on Fox News while accusing the New York Times of treason. Harman's seat, CA-36, is not key to our majority in the House, and anyway it is a very blue seat where she survived a strong primary challenge this year from Marcy Winograd.
Democrats won this election largely on a rejection of Bush's foreign policy and on the impact of corruption / unethical behavior in several key districts. Harman, unfortunately, sports both of those negatives. She could very well have an illegal relationship with AIPAC in an attempt to increase her own influence, and she supports one of the overtly illegal portions of Bush's foreign and national security policies. Given this, I think it was not only absolutely correct for Pelosi to deny her the Intelligence chair, and to remove her from the committee altogether, but that it was almost certainly the best thing Pelosi has done over the past ten days. Democrats need to make it loud and clear that we will not have the same relationship with lobbyists that the Republican majority had, and that we are in fact willing to stand up to Bush's foreign and national security policies. This accomplishes both of those goals in one fell swoop.
Pelosi is going to get hammered by some segments of the press for doing this. I think we need to support her decision both loudly and clearly. We are not going to be able to drain the swamp all at once, but as with LA-02, this is a step in the right direction. It should be recognized and applauded. Update
: It would appear that there are serious concerns about about the potential replacements for Harman as well. That is not acceptable either. It is going to take a long time to drain this swamp. Ugh.