The Cable

NSC news: Jones expands war czar Lute's portfolio

U.S. national security advisor Gen. James Jones (ret.) has expanded the portfolio of the holdover NSC war czar Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, The Cable has learned. In addition to overseeing the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan portfolios, Lute's NSC empire now extends from North Africa to India.

It is not clear what Lute's expanded portfolio means for the senior staff who had already been appointed to run regional directorates that it includes. Lute would serve as a coordinator of the Near East and South Asia, on top of the existing structure, one source suggested. 

The NSC said it had no comment on the change. 

Several sources have in recent weeks described Jones as having a problematic tenure at the NSC, a subject that no one there has wanted to discuss or would provide comment on.

Jones had previously wanted to harmonize regional directorates to be consistent across the NSC, State Department, and the Defense Department, and he leaned towards both the NSC and State Department adopting the military's regional command structure. But the other departments did not want to reorganize their regional bureaus to conform with the military model.

The promotion of Lute, a general, to have a Central Command type portfolio plus India would seem to be consistent with Jones' military-oriented outlook. Obama's style, sources said, seems far less hierarchical. Obama's preference, they described, is for a more wide-open process where he reaches out to seek the views of people at different levels regardless of their station.

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Cable

Six links, and a couple thoughts on the Harman case

Running now. But six quick links to reports on developments in the Jane Harman-surveilled case, followed by a couple thoughts:

NYT/Politico: Pelosi now remembers being briefed on Harman wiretap.

WP piece says she was caught on FBI not NSA surveillance. 

LAT: The real story behind the faux Harman scandal. "Now the question is: Who would drag Harman, Pelosi and Saban into this faux scandal to prevent such an exit?"

Roll Call: Hoyer to look into whether should be investigation of whether lawmakers wiretaped.

CQ: Excerpts from another wiretapped conversation of Harman.

JTA: If the case is dropped, what happens to Larry Franklin?

1) Per the question the LAT article asks: What was the motive of the people who leaked the transcripts of the Harman surveillance? 

Seems to me there were at least two: a) to keep the AIPAC case from being tossed out by showing how much the public still doesn't know about what was uncovered in the investigation. By someone or someones (identified in the reports as ex national security officials) invested in the case. b) A source or second source (also ex national security official) with some serious anti Harman animus, and knowledge of the case.

Keep in mind a poorly kept secret from the journalism trade: sometimes a named source in the piece making one point on the record is making an off record point saying something they wouldn't want on the record. Former official A on the record: So and so is a fabulous person ... Off record, you wouldn't believe what so-and-so did, or whatever.

2) Per the Roll Call/Hoyer piece: There are lots of reasons to think that the person who was being targeted for surveillance when he communicated with Harman and she came on the FBI's radar screen was a senior figure at a pro Israel lobbying group. It is not hard to believe that that person whoever he/she is talks to lots of lawmakers. And that all of those conversations were tapped, since that figure, Mr. X, seems to have been under years long surveillance as a suspected "Israeli agent," and who knows, may still be.

(One question that occurs to me reading the above is, if Mr. X presumably talks to and has alliances with lots of lawmakers, why did Mr. X specifically allegedly seek the help of Harman on the case? And it occurs because she was the perceived ally on the intelligence committee, and this was a counterintelligence case. But why not approach an ally on the Judiciary committee which would seemingly have oversight over the Justice Department and the case? Or were others' help on other committees also sought? And did some of them too become subjects for a time of FISA-authorized surveillance as part of this counterintelligence probe? A former intelligence official told me that then DCI Goss certified several FISA warrants in national security cases when FBI director Robert Mueller was for whatever reason unavailable. Perhaps unavailable, another source suggested, because Mueller would not touch this. Until the law establishing ODNI was established, my understanding is, only three people could certify such FISA requests: the FBI director, the DCI, and nat'l security advisor.)

(Another question. Say Mr. X is a senior member of a bipartisan pro Israel lobby organization, seeking influence with the administration on a sensitive legal matter during a highly partisan Republican administration with a Republican majority Congress. Don't you think some of the allies' help he sought were Republican? Were their FISA warrants signed off on when they were intercepted talking to Mr. X discussing the case and how they might help? And if so, by whom? And if not, why not?) 

3)  If they didn't have authorization, which seems unlikely but who knows, the former national security officials who leaked portions of the classified transcripts of wiretapped surveillance of Jane Harman that came out in media reports this week would seem to have technically committed a crime that looks to be in the same family of legal violations that got the former AIPAC lobbyists indicted in the first place - unauthorized disclosure of classified information. However different their perceived agendas and the politics of their perceived motives may seem to be. The irony.