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Born in Kokomo, Indiana, Harness attended the public schools and was graduated in 1917 from the law department of Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. where he was a member of the Delta Chi fraternity. He served overseas during World War I as a first lieutenant, Three Hundred and Nineteenth Infantry from 1917 to 1919, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. He served as captain in the Infantry Reserve, United States Army from 1920 to 1949.
He was admitted to the District of Columbia bar in 1917, as well as to the Indiana bar in 1919, and commenced practice in Kokomo, Indiana. He served as prosecuting attorney of Howard County, Indiana from 1920 to 1924, and as special assistant to the Attorney General of the United States from 1931 to 1935, when he resigned to resume private practice.
Harness was elected as a Republican to the Seventy-sixth and to the four succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1939 – January 3, 1949). In Congress, he served as chairman of the Select Committee on the Federal Communications Commission (Eightieth Congress). He was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1948 to the Eighty-first Congress, at which point he resumed the practice of law. He served as Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate from January 3, 1953, to January 3, 1955. He retired in 1960 and resided in Sarasota, Florida, where he died. He is entombed in the mausoleum at Crown Point Cemetery, Kokomo, Indiana.
In September 1944, Harness claimed on the House floor that the Australian government warned Washington (prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor) that a Japanese aircraft carrier was bound for Hawaii and that this information was withheld from the commanders at Pearl Harbor. Rumors of this sort had been around for a while, but Harness's charges put them in the public record.
- Greenberg, David (7 December 2000). "Who Lost Pearl Harbor?". Slate magazine.
- United States Congress. "Forest Harness (id: H000217)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved on 2008-01-24
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Indiana's 5th congressional district
1939 - 1949
John R. Walsh
Joseph C. Duke
| Sergeant at Arms of the United States Senate
1953 - 1955
Joseph C. Duke
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.