Rep. Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax that the Obama administration is withholding critical information about terrorists that could be useful in preventing future attacks.
The Michigan legislator — the top Republican on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence — also says that if a successful attack does occur, responsibility will be on “the heads of the administration.”
And he insists there should be “consequences” for North Korea’s sinking of a South Korean naval vessel.
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Rep. Hoekstra was first elected in 1992. He is not running for re-election in November and instead seeks the GOP nomination for governor in Michigan.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax.TV, Hoekstra says: “All of us are very frustrated, Democrats and Republicans, with the lack of information sharing coming from this White House.
“They’re saying Justice is giving you everything they can. The operative words are ‘they can,’ because what the Justice Department is now throwing out is that the Christmas Day bombing, the attack at Fort Hood, the Times Square bombing, these are all now in the prosecutorial stage and we can’t give you information that may jeopardize the prosecution.
“So we’re learning very, very little about their connections to international organizations, how these things were funded, where the money came from — the types of things you would like to know to get a better understanding of each one of these attacks so that we can better enhance our intelligence capabilities to identify these threats earlier and stop them.
“I’m in the prevention business. I want these things prevented. I want these folks identified before they ever get to the United States, or before they can ever operationalize what they want to do. [Attorney General] Eric Holder and others are in the prosecutorial stage. That’s too late.”
Hoekstra charges that the administration has been withholding information on key terrorist threat Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric who moved to Yemen in 2004 and whose Internet sermons are believed to have helped inspire attacks on the U.S. He recently advocated the killing of American civilians in an al-Qaida video.
Hoekstra discloses that he traveled to Yemen on New Year’s Day, but the White House and Department of Defense contacted the American embassy there and instructed officials not to talk to Hoekstra about al-Awlaki.
“I don’t know why they did it,” Hoekstra says. “They still haven’t shared that information that I was looking for.
“That’s a mistake. Congress shouldn’t have to pull information out of the administration. It’s the administration’s job to keep us fully and currently informed on intelligence matters. That is the requirement of the law. This administration is not meeting those requirements.”
If a terrorist attack does succeed in the future “it will be on the heads of the administration because they do want to involve Congress in discussing the types of changes that might be necessary to keep America safe,” Hoekstra tells Newsmax.
“If they can’t give me the information as to what happened at Fort Hood, what happened on Christmas Day, what happened at Times Square, how can I work with them to give them better tools to keep American safe?
“That’s a discussion we need to be having. These homegrown terrorism threats are expanding. They are going to be more frequent. We’re going to have to modify and revise our intelligence gathering and our law enforcement procedures if we expect to keep America safe.”
Asked if he believes war could break out in Korea following the North’s sinking of a South Korean ship, Hoekstra responds:
“I sure hope not. That leads to all kinds of bad consequences throughout that part of the world. We’ve got enough struggles in the world right now without an all-out conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
“I don’t think China would want that to happen. I don’t think Russia would want that to happen. I’m not sure, however, that Russia and China have the influence over North Korea that if they wanted to do something like that, Russia and China could actually stop them.
“I do think we need to put North Korea back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism. I thought President Bush made a mistake when he took them off that list at the end of 2008. President Obama should put them back on the list.
“In some ways it’s a symbolic list, but sinking a warship is not a symbolic step. It was a real step by North Korea and there should be consequences to it.”
Hoekstra also says that Dennis Blair, who resigned as Director of National Intelligence under pressure from Obama, served as “something like a scapegoat” for the administration, and called the White House’s move a “wrong decision.”
And he charges that Iran is taking advantage of America’s “weakness and indecision” to continue its nuclear program.
“The consequences are that Iran has now had another year and a half to continue enriching uranium,” Hoekstra says.
“They’re a year and a half closer to having a nuclear weapon, and we’re a year and a half closer to Israel believing that perhaps the only way Iran will not get a nuclear weapon is if Israel takes unilateral action without the support of the United States. That would be a very ugly place for the Middle East and for the United States and Israel to find themselves.”
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