The story was the first thing I read this morning and my first thought really was that this must be a summary of a Glenn Greenwald written screenplay about Washington. All we need is the Joe Klein character to step in and say something stupid and it's all there.
However, the substance of what was recorded really does look damning. Which reminds me of something I was thinking about during the Blago Era, namely how many politicians’ reputations could really stand up to serious surveillance? It seems very likely to me that if you picked a member of congress at random, decided you had probably cause to suspect him of corruption, and thus starting wiretapping all his calls with donors and key political supporters that you would find a ton of dubious quid-pro-quos and backscratching arrangements.
Thinking about that further reenforces the point that selective, unaccountable surveillance is very dangerous. A president could do a great deal to gin up pretexts to wiretap members of congress and blackmail them even without the members doing anything unusually egregious. But it’s also a reminder that we have a political system that’s substantially powered by a kind of systematic, quasi-legalized bribery.
Harman: It is being reported that Jane Harman was caught on an NSA wiretap, offering to try to obtain easier treatment of two Jewish-American lobbyists who had been caught in a minor espionage case in return for support (from AIPAC, presumably) for appointment as chair of the House Intelligence Committee. I'm not sure that's illegal--sounds like the sort of horse-trading that goes on all time, but--if true--it is disgraceful.
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