Jane Harman is a former nine-term Democratic congresswoman from California who served as ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee after 9/11 and recently completed a decade at the nonpartisan Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars. She joins Washington Post columnist David Ignatius to discuss her new book, “Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe.” Harnessing her experience at the nexus of security and public policy issues, Harman addresses the reforms she says could help rebuild American leadership and bipartisanship.


The former congresswoman said she thinks the U.S should pull the small force of troops in the country because they are only capable of warding off small actions. “What we were doing in Afghanistan wasn’t working well, I’m sure nobody would argue that. I thought Donald Trump was right to put an able diplomat Zal Khalilzad–who is still there, he was asked by the Biden crowd to stay– to try to negotiate a deal with the Taliban. What was wrong with that was is it cut out the government of Afghanistan, which I think is a terrible mistake, but I think the notion of continuing to negotiate… soft power into Afghanistan is right. What’s wrong is perpetuating this tiny little force which may help us in certain respects deter smaller actions, but won’t help us if there’s a surge of terrorism in the country.” (Washington Post Live)
The former congresswoman also praised the President’s team of advisers and his national security strategy. “This is a guy who’s very experienced, who has the A-team advising him and who knows that these half-measures or no measures that we’ve been taking–especially in the foreign policy space for a long time–aren’t working, and is ready to place big bets. So how do I rate this? I think the articulation of the interim national security strategy by Tony Blinken and Jake Sullivan was excellent. What are they doing? They’re taking the ‘foreign’ out of foreign policy and making it relevant to Americans… And Biden’s acting on that… What has he not done? I think, I still think he ought to be trying harder to fashion bipartisan compromises with Congress on every issue.” (Washington Post Live)
The former congresswoman said people incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay prison should not be tried with evidence procured through torture. “Those people who were 'tortured'– and I think that’s not an unfair way to see this–those who are still incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay prison can’t be tried under the rules of evidence because the evidence is tainted.” (Washington Post Live)

Jane Harman

Congresswoman Jane Harman is the author of the forthcoming book Insanity Defense: Why Our Failure to Confront Hard National Security Problems Makes Us Less Safe. She served nine terms in Congress, including four years after 9/11 as ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, and recently completed a decade at the non-partisan Wilson Center as its first female president and CEO. She sat on advisory boards for the CIA, Director of National Intelligence and the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and State. Harman is currently a member of the Aspen Strategy Group, the Advisory Board of the Munich Security Conference, and co-chairs the Homeland Security Experts Group with former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.*

*Provided by Jane Harman