Was Rep. Jane Harman wiretapped? Or was she simply overheard in a conversation with somebody whose phone was wiretapped? If the former, it would be a bombshell, and if you read this piece from Roll Call—titled “Pelosi Knew About Harman Wiretap—you might infer that she was. The article reports that, at Christian Science Monitor lunch with reporters, “Pelosi said she was not told what federal eavesdroppers picked up on the call — and never alerted Harman to it.”
“It was not my position to raise it with Jane Harman,” Pelosi told reporters at the Christian Science Monitor lunch. “In fact, I didn’t even know if what they were talking about was real. All they said was that she was wiretapped.”That emphasis is mine, but it may not be necessary.
Though the full truth is hard to ascertain, the entire context of Pelosi’s remarks suggest this was more a case of slipped tongue than spilled beans.
In response to a question from a reporter, Pelosi said:
when a member of Congress is included in the wiretap, you know, when you’re wire tapping somebody else but when you have a member of Congress that is overheard in the wiretap, that the leadership is informed and that happened at that time… it was not my position to raise it with Jane Harman, no. In fact I didn’t even know if what they were talking about it was real. All I knew is that she was wiretapped.
Emphasis, again, mine. Pelosi, who was once ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, knows the distinction between a person being wiretapped and a person being overheard on a wiretap as well as anybody. But considering all the new reports that have emerged in the last couple days—and that the New York Times reported yesterday that Harman was “inadvertently swept up” in a wiretap—it really seems like, expertise notwithstanding, Pelosi just spoke unclearly here.
Brian Beutler is TPM's senior congressional reporter. Since 2009, he's led coverage of health care reform, Wall Street reform, taxes, the GOP budget, the government shutdown fight, and the debt limit fight. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.