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Rep. Jane Harman to quit Congress

JTA

February 7, 2011 | 12:22 pm

Jane Harman

Jane Harman

Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), a pro-Israel stalwart with close ties to the U.S. intelligence community, is quitting Congress.

Harman reportedly is leaving to run the Washington DC- based Woodrow Wilson Center, a preeminent foreign policy think tank.

She is replacing Lee Hamilton, also a prominent former Democratic congressman.

Harman, known for her ties with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, was embroiled in 2009 in the controversy over espionage-related charges against two former staffers.

Intelligence officials leaked to Congressional Quarterly a wiretapped conversation from 2006 that conveyed the impression that she told an Israeli agent she would intervene on behalf of the accused staffers.

Harman fiercely denied the charges and demanded the release of the full conversation. Justice Department officials noted that she was not under any investigation.

Some questioned the timing of the leaks, just before the government dropped charges against the two former AIPAC staffers, as a last-ditch bid by intelligence agencies to keep the case alive.

Harman had served as the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee at the time.

After Democrats re-took the House that year, she had hoped to become its chairwoman, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi bumped her, citing the committee’s rotation policy.

In the last election, Harman trounced a primary challenge from Marcy Winograd, a Jewish candidate who backs a binational Israel-Palestinian state.

Harman’s husband, Sidney, recently purchased Newsweek.

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