Congresswoman Jane Harman was recorded on a NSA wiretapped conversation agreeing to work to downgrade espionage charges against two officials of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in return for help securing the chairmanship of the House Intelligence Committee, according to Jeff Stein's anonymously sourced column in Congressional Quarterly.

Harman, a California Democrat, was allegedly recorded in a conversation with a suspected Israeli agent. The conversation reportedly took place before the 2006 election, when Democrats seized control of the chamber and, therefore, the committee chairmanships.

It was widely reported at the time that Harman wanted to chair the Intelligence Committee but was passed over by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for Rep. Silvestre Reyes, a Texas Democrat. An FBI investigation was launched at the time into pro-Israel lobbyists seeking to influence Pelosi to give Harman the chairmanship.

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The story alleges that then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales compelled the FBI to end the investigation in return for Harman defending the administration's wiretapping program.

Harman wholeheartedly denied wrong doing in a statement to the publication. "These claims are an outrageous and recycled canard, and have no basis in fact," she said. "I never engaged in any such activity. Those who are peddling these false accusations should be ashamed of themselves."

It is unclear from the story whether Harman knew she was talking to a "suspected Israeli agent."

In addition to these developments, the story touches upon the implied power of the Israel lobby, which, if this is all true, Harman believed could effectively lobby Pelosi for the chairmanship.

It does not appear that Harman was the member of Congress that the New York Times reported last week that the NSA attempted to wiretap.

Two more points of interest: That the NSA was listening to a member of Congress on its wiretaps is, by itself, newsworthy enough. But now, the fact that they are leaking the transcripts is mind boggling.

jeremy.jacobs@thehill.com