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Harman-ic convergence

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday August 8, 2006 07:00 PM

Here's War Democrat Jane Harman last week:
In my capacity as the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, I've been to the Guantanamo Bay prison three times to try to learn what was going on there. On the two most recent visits, a Major General named Geoff Miller was in charge. A no-nonsense, macho kind of guy, Miller seemed totally in control of what appeared to be a well-run program.

Then came the stunning revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib and allegations of detainee mistreatment at Gitmo. By the time Miller appeared before the Intelligence Committee, presumably to shed light on these shocking reports, he was the Deputy Commander for Detainee Operations for the Multi-National Force in Iraq. Instead of responding directly to my questions, General Miller gave disquieting and evasive answers, which prompted me to send him a letter....

Do I correctly detect here a mad scramble to get out from under a falling edifice -- an edifice that Jane helped build?

Jane understandably does not allude to her vote with the Republicans, last year, to keep Guantanamo going. She was one of 79 Democrats who voted for the Caribbean concentration camp on that occasion. Steny Hoyer, of course, joined her, along with Steve Israel, Tom Lantos (inevitably), and the egregious sockpuppet Edolphus Towns.

Even on its face, Jane's narrative is... odd. She went to Guantanamo three times? And it never occurred to her that things weren't quite kosher -- until a public scandal erupted.

Well, let's cut her some slack. Maybe she was distracted. Note that odd line about the commanding general -- "a no-nonsense, macho kind of guy, Miller seemed totally in control." Hey, the girl is only human. I'm imagining the dinners -- were there candles? Did Miller's medals and marmoreal, closely-shaved, square jaw glisten in the soft light? Did Jane take a little extra trouble with her toilette?

Oh, I don't think she misbehaved. She's much too rational for that. And I don't think Miller's architectonic jaw and trumpery, brummagem military bling could possibly turn her head, not really. It's just a funny, novelistic thought.

Jane's actions, in her official capacity and probably her private capacity as well, are driven solely by calculation. Her support for buff, macho General Miller was calculated; her abandonment and excoriation of him equally so. (Does she want to strip him -- of his medals? Yuk yuk.)

But there's something in that "macho, no-nonsense" trope that suggests Jane's heart was touched. That line was not a PR flack's idea.

Jane's heart? A contradiction in terms, surely. But I bet under all that scar tissue, she still has one -- and I wish her peace-n-love SoCal constituents would retire her and give her a chance to cultivate that starved, shortchanged organ.

She had to throw General Toy-Boy to the wolves -- but you know, I bet it cost her a pang. Not a deadly pang, or a long-lived pang, but it left its trace in her words.

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