Harman Says Security Law Should Evolve with the Times
Posted for Steny Hoyer
Congressman Steny Hoyer introduced Jane Harman, president of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Friday at St. Mary’s College of Maryland as someone he’s known “since she was two years of age.”
The joke had a bit of truth to it. Both Hoyer and Harman, a former Democratic Congresswoman from California, spent several years working together on national security issues in the House. But Harman said she is happy in her new career.
“It’s delightful to be out of Washington,” Harman said, complimenting the beauty of the St. Mary’s campus. And she thanked Hoyer for bringing her to the college, saying, “You are very lucky to have had him represent you so ably for so long.”
Harman described herself as “a recovering politician” and noted that her nine-term stint in the House was actually “119 dog years.”
She said she left her office, because of the rancorous partisanship that has resulted in “Congress’ ongoing and exquisite dysfunction,” a disruptive and hostile way of doing business that has become “to some, an art form.”
However, she said, important legal changes need to be made to ensure the nation’s security in an era of cyber warfare and terrorism, changes that cannot wait.
“This country has faced many difficult eras,” Harman said, noting the current era is different, since we no longer face rivals in the form of nation states with standing armies. “Our laws were created for a different time. … [Today's] enemy doesn’t wear uniforms.”
Harman identified three issues that lack legal clarification and that Congress has repeatedly failed to clarify. First, as the line has blurred between domestic and foreign intelligence gathering, and Harman declared that there “needs to be a clear framework” for how the National Security Agency operates.
Second, she stated that “cybersecurity has become politicized” and that watchdog groups have “scared everyone with the idea of a ‘kill switch’” for the Internet, even has foreign hackers have stolen classified government information and industrial data.
Finally, on the issue of targeted killings of American citizens abroad for alleged terrorist activities, Harman said the purposes of such a tactic need to be debated and defined. If the U.S. fails to do so, “our adversaries can exploit us,” and use such killings as a political weapon. Harman said Congress needs draw the legal boundaries bright enough for the world to see and understand.
“The kind of change we need is unlikely in this election cycle,” Harman concluded.