Tags: War on Terrorism | Al-Qaida | 2012 President Race | Arab Spring | hoekstra | libya | obama

Hoekstra to Newsmax: Obama Risks 'Flippant' Attack to Avenge Ambassador

Monday, 15 Oct 2012 05:30 PM

By Paul Scicchitano and John Bachman

Longtime Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra — the former chairman of the powerful House Intelligence Committee — tells Newsmax TV that the Obama administration probably lacks “the kind of intelligence that will enable us to attack” those responsible for killing Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other members of the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya.

What he fears is an empty gesture with some staged attacks on loose targets designed to give the appearance the administration is on the case.

“You’re only acting decisively if you have the clearly identified target and you take the target out,” warned Hoekstra in an exclusive interview on Monday. “I’m concerned that what we may see with this administration is they may fire a few missiles from some drones at some suspected target and will either kill the wrong people or we won’t kill anybody at all.”

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Hoekstra, who is locked in a battle for the Michigan Senate seat held by Democrat Debbie Stabenow, was reacting to a report that the White House has put special operations strike forces on standby and moved drones into the skies above Africa — waiting for the word to strike anywhere from Libya to Mali — once investigators find the al-Qaida-linked group responsible for the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

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“This presidency, this administration has been very, very reluctant to go after terrorism through the intelligence community, you know, doing no enhanced interrogation and really pulling back boots on the ground — the kind of intelligence that you need to be able to identify the people that were responsible for the attack on Benghazi,” explained Hoekstra, who is also an advisor to the Newsmax affiliate LIGNET.com.

“I’m not sure that we’ve got the kind of intelligence that will enable us to attack with any kind of precision the people that were responsible for the Benghazi attack,” he said. “I’m more worried about the kind of flippant response coming from an administration that we saw back in the 1990s after our embassies were bombed in Africa.”

During those earlier attacks the Clinton administration retaliated by firing 60 cruise missiles into Afghanistan under a belief that Osama bin Laden might have been hiding there, according to Hoekstra, who chaired the Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2006.

“Bin Laden had been long gone and all we did was kill a bunch of sheep after we spent $60 million,” said Hoekstra. “These need to be precise, targeted attacks based on very, very actionable intelligence and I’m not sure we’ve got that in Northern Africa at this time.”

Hoekstra blamed a lack of intelligence for the four American deaths in Libya.

“If we would have had those feet on the ground doing the types of things that were necessary, maybe that attack would never have happened,” he said.

But he acknowledged that action based on poor intelligence could have disastrous consequences.

“Once you send in a hellfire missile, there’s no calling it back. You better make sure you’ve got the right intelligence because the people at the receiving end of that Hellfire missile are going to be dead,” he asserted. “We better make sure we’ve got really, really good intelligence before we start firing off Hellfire missiles in parts of Africa where I’m not sure we’ve got the greatest intelligence.”

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While a spokesman for Islamist groups in North Africa vowed to “multiply the Sept. 11 attack by 10” if the U.S. launches a retaliatory strike, Hoekstra doesn’t believe such a threat should “deter or influence our behavior” with respect to a possible strike.

“This guy’s making that boast knowing full well they’re trying to attack us each and every day whether we retaliate or not,” he said. “It’s the president’s job as commander-in-chief to take out those folks that are an imminent threat to the United States of America, our citizens and our assets throughout the world.”

Hoekstra said that while he has no doubt the threat is “real,” the Obama administration should be doing everything possible to eliminate threats by radical jihadists before they can carry them out.

He added that he is not surprised the Obama administration has leaked plans for a possible retaliatory strike.

“The Obama administration has dug itself in such a deep hole on Benghazi with either total incompetence or the lies that have been coming out of this administration. I’m not at all surprised that we’re hearing about these things,” he said. “This administration, now, after the embarrassment of Benghazi, is going to try to do everything that they can to look really, really tough on radical Jihadists.”

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The difficulty President Obama faces is how he can coordinate such an attack without acknowledging that al-Qaida is still a major threat and that his strategy in Northern Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula is in “shambles,” according to Hoekstra.

“They will have to admit that even though bin Laden was killed, al-Qaida is alive. It’s thriving. It has a breeding and training grounds in Northern Africa — these all developed after the Arab Spring and that this isn’t an Arab Spring. It’s an Arab upheaval. It has given some great opportunities for al-Qaida to reconstitute itself and prepare itself to attack America

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