Rep. Harman’s Justification

To the Editor:

In the October 19 edition of Asbarez–and reprinted at– Harut Sassounian wrote that I “deviously sent a private letter to Speaker Pelosi” announcing my intention to oppose the Armenian Genocide resolution.
While Mr. Sassounian has every right to disagree with my position on H.Res. 106, there was nothing devious about my public letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The letter was posted on my official website together with an open letter to the Armenian American community within minutes of its delivery. My staff also sent a copy of the letter to various Armenian organizations that same day.
As I have said from the outset, I believe that genocide against the Armenian people occurred in 1915 and I support the substance of H.Res 106 ‘s which is why I continue to be a cosponsor of the legislation. However, I also continue to believe that voting on the resolution now would contribute to serious instability in the Middle East. My views are elaborated in an op-ed piece published in The Los Angeles Times on October 12 ‘s,1,3204792,print.story.

Rep. Jane Harman

Editor’s Note:
In researching the timing of Rep. Harman’s letter to the leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Asbarez discovered that while the letter was sent to Chairman Tom Lantos and Ranking Member Illeana Ros-Lehtinen on Oct. 3rd, the letter was not posted on her Website until, at the earliest, later that evening and that Armenian community organizations were only sent the letter the following morning. Throughout the day of October 3rd, having learned about the Congresswoman’s letter independently, Armenian community activists made many calls to her office expressing disappointment and anger at her hypocrisy in posing as a supporter of the resolution while secretly trying to block its adoptions. We stand by Harout Sassounian’s assertion in his column that Congresswoman Harman only publicized her letter after she recognized, based on protests from the Armenian community, that the fact of her secret opposition had become public.
On Oct. 4, upon learning about the letter, Asbarez contacted the Representative’s office via telephone and later by email to inquire about Rep. Harman’s sudden decision to oppose the resolution and her reasons for urging the House Committee leadership to block the measure from consideration in Committee.
Asbarez asked Rep. Harman’s press officer Adam Blickstein when, in Rep. Harman’s opinion, is the appropriate time to recognize the Armenian Genocide? On Oct. 10, the day of the Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Asbarez received an email from Blickstein stating that he was away from the office and thus unable to respond to Asbarez’s inquiries and did not know when he would be able to provide an answer to the aforementioned questions and others posed to him on Oct. 4 (via telephone) and Oct. 5 (via email).
Furthermore, the Armenian National Committee-Western Region has told Asbarez that during a meeting at Rep. Harman’s district office in El Segundo, Calif., in mid-August, the Congresswoman’s deputy chief of Staff assured ANC-WR representatives, who were accompanied by three Harman constituents, that her support for the resolution was unwavering.
The question still remains, when does Jane Harman believe is the “right” time to recognize what she terms as the Armenian Genocide?


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