Podcast Interview with Rep. Jane Harman, D-Ca.: Closing Gitmo While Continuing Indefinite Detention is ‘Trading One Black Eye for a New Black Eye’

By Matt Loffman

Jan 22, 2010 1:42pm

On the one year anniversary of President Obama’s executive order to have shuttered the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay by, well, today, we spoke to Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif., former ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence and current chair of the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence.

Harman was fired up about the decision by the Obama administration’s Guantanamo Task Force’s to recommend 50 current detainees be detained in the U.S. indefinitely.

"Rather than throw out 230 years of history, we could offer the federal courts — provided that they are vigorously pursuing this, the FBI is vigorously pursuing this –a chance to develop new evidence against these folks and try them under our current system of laws,” she said. “And I think that this would be a much better, more appropriate way to go and you know the problem here is that we are training one black eye, that would be the stain of Guantanamo, for a new black eye, and that would be the stain of preventive detention in the United States of America."

The Political Punch Podcast can be downloaded on iTunes or by clicking HERE.  The Podcast was produced by Lindsey Ellerson.

Commenting on the missing deadline for the closure of Guantanamo, Harman said, “in hindsight it would have been better to have a more detailed plan in place before this was announced. I was one who celebrated its announcement, I think it is the right thing to do.  But, I think most folks now would say, ‘Gee, we should have investigated further before we made the announcement so we knew what we were getting into.’”

I asked her a couple times if she had complete confidence in Admiral Dennis Blair (ret.), the Director of National Intelligence, and both times she refrained from directly answering the question.

"I think the Obama team is a strong team,” she said.”I think it is enormously disappointing that there are, that there continue to be turf fights, for example, between the DNI and the CIA…I don’t really want to get into the blame game of which person isn’t doing enough. But the system, which is what broke down on Christmas day, has to do more.  And, the guy in charge of the system is Admiral Blair, and I'm sure he recognizes that the system under his supervision has to do more."

Harman said that the election of Sen.-elect Scott Brown, R-Mass., sent an important message to Congress.

“That election was a referendum on some national issues and the message Congress needs to receive, this is one that I am strongly for, is that people want more bipartisanship and they want polices that can be explained more clearly and I certainly received those messages and I embrace those messages,” she said. “And, on security, let's just understand that the terrorists won't check our party registration before they blow us up and we're in this together.  And if that’s a message that is received after the Massachusetts Senate election, I hope it will resonate everywhere."
The Political Punch Podcast can be downloaded on iTunes or by clicking HERE.


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