Rep. Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax that Americans should be “very worried” about al-Qaida’s new efforts to recruit Muslims in the United States to commit terrorist acts at home.
The Michigan Republican, who is running for governor this year, also says proponents of a mosque close to Ground Zero in New York should be “more sensitive” to people with emotional ties to the site.
Rep. Hoekstra was first elected in 1992 and is the Ranking Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. A critic of the intelligence bureaucracy in the past, he was asked about a recent Washington Post report stating that since 9/11, top-secret intelligence gathering has grown too big to manage.
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“This is a bureaucracy that is more concerned with growing itself than its ultimate mission, which is keeping America safe, a bureaucracy that doesn’t communicate with other parts of the bureaucracy, a bureaucracy that is more concerned with its lifeblood than the lifeblood of the country,” he responds.
“So I’m not surprised that we’ve moved to this point. We’ve been fighting it for the last four or five years. Those of us who have watched and worked on the Intelligence Committee know that it’s too big and it’s not as effective as it should be.”
To streamline the intelligence apparatus, Hoekstra says, “what you need is leadership out of the Director of National Intelligence. We created that position in 2004 and had the first director approved in 2005. We’re now soon going to be on our fourth director.
“None of the people who have ever been in this position have been given the authority or the backing by either President Bush or President Obama to get hold of this bureaucracy, to reform it and to change it. They need the support of the president.”
Al-Qaida is now targeting American recruits with an online English-language magazine, Inspire, that contains articles written by Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders. About that effort, Hoekstra says: “I think al-Qaida is just adding one more part to its portfolio of how it’s trying to attack and defeat the West.
“They’ve got the efforts in Iraq, they’ve got the efforts in Afghanistan, and they’ve got the efforts in Pakistan, Northern Africa, Europe. This now is a new recruiting tool that says that attacking the United States from outside, getting terrorists into the United States, is really, really hard, so let’s see if we can’t find disaffected Muslims in the United States and see if we can’t turn them to commit a terrorist attack.
“It is a new type of terror that they want to inflict on the United States. We ought to be very worried about it.”
Hoekstra takes issue with a New York City community board’s decision to approve construction of a mosque just two blocks from Ground Zero, the site of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
“My reaction is that I wish the people who are building this mosque and cultural center would be a little bit more sensitive to the community in which they want to live,” he tells Newsmax.
“It doesn’t have to be two blocks from Ground Zero. Put it a little further away. You’ll still be able to accomplish your purpose without potentially affecting the sensitivities of the people for whom Ground Zero is such an emotional place.”
Hoekstra is among those calling for an investigation into allegations that the oil company BP played a lobbying role in the release last year of the terrorist behind the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988. That decision was recently criticized by both President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
“The bottom line is that about a year ago the Scottish government, the U.K. government, the government that Cameron now leads, made a very, very bad decision,” he says.
“No one in the civilized world can really understand how they reached this decision, that the only person convicted of being involved in the Lockerbie takedown that killed 270 people only served eight years and then was given a compassionate release. Why? This is what happens when governments make decisions in a secretive way that is not transparent.
“We’re now a year later. The information is a year old. Going back and finding out exactly what happened and why it happened is going to be hard.
“That’s the problem for the U.K. government. That’s the problem for the Scottish government. But they do owe answers to the families of the victims of that takedown. There should be an investigation. The questions that the families and others are raising need to be answered.”
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