On the morning of 9/11, Jane Harman, a US congresswoman from California, was heading down the corridors toward the dome of the Capitol for a House intelligence committee meeting when her mobile phone rang. “My staff called and said, ‘Something terrible has happened, come back.’ Then they closed the Capitol and 200 members of Congress were milling around outside with no place to go. We had no evacuation plan, no building to go to. We ended up in the police station.”

Harman, who became the ranking Democrat on the House intelligence committee in 2002 and resigned from Congress in 2011 to head the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, tells the story from a sofa in her California-style house in Washington, DC. With its redwood exteriors and extensive use of glass, the house could be overlooking a Pacific coast forest instead of the city’s Rock Creek Park. “I was upset that the Capitol was closed. It was a bad move to show the American people that government closed.”

Read the full article in The Financial Times.