Challenger to Hawkish Democrat Gets an Early Start

Published: Thu 25 Jun 2009 01:35 PM
Progressive Challenger to Hawkish Democrat Rep. Jane Harman Gets an Early Start
By Scott Harris
June 23, 2009
From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
Between the Lines Q
featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release May 6, 2009
RealAudio MP3
Interview with Marcy Winongrad, primary candidate, and author Norman Solomon, conducted by Scott Harris
Jane Harman, a seven-term Democratic congresswoman from California's 36th District, has long been the focus of progressive activists unhappy with her support for President Bush's Iraq war and warrantless wiretapping program. Harman, a member of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council, has voted with Republicans on a number of economic issues including the rewriting of legislation on personal bankruptcy and abolishing the estate tax.
Press reports in April revealed that Rep. Harman had, prior to the 2006 election, been overheard by a court-approved wiretap, as she negotiated what appeared to be an illegal deal with an Israeli agent working with the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), a lobby group. She is alleged to have offered to pressure the Department of Justice to reduce charges against two AIPAC officials accused of violating the Espionage Act in exchange for AIPAC's effort to have Harman appointed chair of the House Intelligence Committee. But because Harman was seen by the Bush administration as an ally on warrantless surveillance, an investigation into her activities was halted.
Now Los Angeles high school teacher, Marcy Winograd, founder of the LA chapter of Progressive Democrats of America, has announced her candidacy to challenge Harman in the June 2010 Democratic primary. After percent of the vote against Harman. Between The Lines Scott Harris spoke with author and columnist Norman Solomon and candidate Winograd about why there is growing support for her attempt to unseat Jane Harman.
NORMAN SOLOMON: Well, Marcy's a longtime activist, she's a schoolteacher in Los Angeles, somebody who has been very active since the beginning in the Progressive Democrats of America organization, which I'm also very active in. And back in 2006, she ran a very strong campaign against the incumbent, Jane Harman, and with just about three months of campaign time, racked up 38 percent of the vote, even though she was of course vastly outspent by the incumbent, Congresswoman Harman. So this time, Marcy, I think has done it absolutely in an inspiring way, declaring her candidacy a full 12 months-plus before the June 2010 California primary, and many people in California and elsewhere are mobilizing behind Marcy's campaign.
BETWEEN THE LINES: Marcy, thank you for being here tonight. Tell our listeners a bit about why you've – well this is your second time out now, as Norman has said you were very successful in getting 38% of the vote against Jane Harman the last time. Tell us a little bit about why you feel this is so important to challenge her and to contest that seat.
MARCY WINONGRAD: Well, you know, I have to say that I wasn't initially going to run again, because it is such an expensive undertaking and an exhausting one. However, given the circumstances and what has come to light, and the fact that so many who supported me last time have been literally calling and emailing, and imploring me to run because it does take someone with name recognition to challenge her in a way that's meaningful. And so many who have name recognition are elected officials and they would never, ever challenge an incumbent. So, I looked at the circumstances and I looked at the very real possibility of winning, and the fact that it seems like now is the time for change. We voted for change, I don't know that we got change, but we voted for change earlier. And I think let's do it, let's act on this, there's a groundswell. Jane Harman has been there for a long time and very, very accommodating to the aerospace industry, the military industrial complex, which is really rooted in the part of the district. And I think it's time for us to say, wait a minute, there must be another way. Let's expand this industry, we have this great brain trust in the center of our district, why not retrain, retool, some of these workers, the skilled workforce, the engineers so that they can build rapid transit, so that they can build alternative energy industries that will sustain us over a long period of time, and it will be more labor intensive, and produce more jobs than military work does.
So, I said, you know what, I'm compelled, I'm going to do it, and here we are, we're off and running. We had our kickoff last week at Venice Pier which is in the northern end of the district, it's sort of a bohemian community. And it was wonderful, great coverage in the district, and we're running, we're going!
BETWEEN THE LINES: Marcy, please tell us a little about Jane Harman's voting record. What are the votes that Jane Harman has cast that has disturbed you so much and has launched you into action, that has catapulted you into running this race again.
MARCY WINONGRAD: Well some of them are votes and some of them are stands that she's refused to take. If we look at her voting record, as Norman mentioned, she has consistently, except for on a few occasions, voted for war. She most recently voted for the $97 billion to escalate the war into Aghanistan. She was the ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee, she actually never got to be the chair -- that's what got her into some of this mess, because she wanted the Israelis to lobby for her, and reportedly threatened to defund the Democratic party if Pelosi didn't make her chair. But she was a ranking member of that intelligence committee and if she read the national intelligence estimate on Iraq, she never could have voted to authorize the invasion of that country in good conscience. My guess is that she didn't read it, or she didn't read it and take it seriously. So that's really egregious.
On top of that, she voted for the bankruptcy bill. Most people in this country go bankrupt because of skyrocketing medical bills. She has refused to come out in favor of single-payer health care. A lot of people in her district are pressing her on that, and she refuses to do that.
Keep in mind that if Nancy Pelosi was briefed on torture, we know Jane Harman was briefed on torture. She was on the intelligence committee. She told the CIA not to destroy its tapes of waterboarding, so why would you tell them not to destroy waterboarding tapes unless you knew that torture was under way? Why didn't she stop it? Why didn't she take to the floor of Congress and stop it? For the same reason that she didn't take to the floor of Congress to stop the wiretapping. That story, you know has just been blown wide open. She was on the intelligence committee when all this was going on, and according to the latest report in Congressional Quarterly, not only did she know about the wiretapping, but she went to the New York Times prior, on the eve of Bush's re-election and pressured the editor not to release the story about massive illegal wiretaps. The New York Times held back on that story, and who knows what would have happened, how history might have changed had the American public known about what Bush was doing on the eve of his re-election. In addition, she became, according to the Congressional Quarterly, she became the poster child for warrantless wiretapping, when she made a deal with (former Attorney General Alberto) Gonzalez.
After this whole wiretapping of AIPAC…and this story is a bit convoluted -- and I don't blame people who are listening if they're shaking their heads, going "What? What?" But, at the end of the day, according to this Congressional Quarterly report, she made a deal. She went to Alberto Gonzalez, Bush's attorney general, said, "Get the FBI off my back!" because, apparently they had wired, had been part of this AIPAC wiretapping and gotten Harman on the wiretap inadvertently saying that she would do whatever she could to get the charges dropped against the guys accused of espionage if they would defund the Democratic party. So, Gonzalez, according to Congressional Quarterly said "OK, I'll get the FBI off your back if you do me a favor and you become the most ardent defender of our warrantless wiretapping program."
Visit Marcy Winograd's website at
Related links:
American Civil Liberties Union at
Center for Constitutional Rights at
National Lawyers Guild at
Scott Harris is executive producer of Between The Lines, which can be heard on more than 45 radio stations and in RealAudio and MP3 on our website at This interview excerpt was featured on the award-winning, syndicated weekly radio newsmagazine, Between The Lines for the week ending June 26, 2009. This Between The Lines Q was compiled by Anna Manzo and Scott Harris.
From the radio newsmagazine
Between The Lines
Between the Lines Q
featuring progressive viewpoints
on national and international issues
under-reported in mainstream media
for release June 23, 2009

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