Hoekstra to Newsmax: Obama Shows 'Real Reluctance' to Prevent Terror

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 02:53 PM

By Jim Meyers and Kathleen Walter

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Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama's administration has shown a "real reluctance" to take the steps necessary to assure that the nation doesn't suffer another terrorist attack like the Boston bombings.

The Michigan Republican also says Obama's plan to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay is "not a wise decision" and would represent a "huge win" for radical jihadists.

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Hoekstra served eight terms in the House before leaving office to run unsuccessfully for Michigan governor in 2010. He chaired the Intelligence Committee from 2004 to 2007, and currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Newsmax partner site Lignet.com.

According to a report in Britain's MailOnline, Saudi Arabia last year warned the Department of Homeland Security in writing about Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev,  allegedly naming Tsarnaev and three Pakistanis as potential jihadis worthy of U.S. investigation and providing information about a planned explosive attack on a major American city.

In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Wednesday, Hoekstra comments on the report: "Obviously it raises some red flags, and it really points out the need for Congress and the administration to do what the military and others would call an after-action review.

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"Exactly how many foreign governments and other entities may have warned America about these young men or this one man in particular? What happened when we got that notification? Was it acted upon, did we reach a resolution that said this isn't worthy of investigation? Was it never followed up on?

"This administration has shown a real reluctance to do the necessary oversight to make sure that we don't repeat the kind of mistakes we may have made in the past. It's too early to say we missed this one, but Congress really needs to do the oversight to figure out exactly what happened."

At a news conference on Tuesday, Obama said the attacks in Boston and Benghazi were not intelligence failures. Asked if Obama is wrong about that, Hoekstra responds: "It's too soon to make that judgment and to make that statement at this point.

"How many names come in? What's the magnitude of this? Do we get 50 names a month? Do we get 500 a day? Once we do the necessary oversight, we'll be able to determine whether the system needs to be modified, enhanced, and improved, or whether the system basically worked the way it was intended.

"At the same time I don't think the president can be so confident and say this wasn't an intelligence failure.

"What we need to do is put in place the systems that minimize the possibility of these types of things happening in the future. We need full transparency. This is not about throwing blame around. This is just trying to make sure that we do the right thing to protect America.

"This administration has not been transparent. The best example of that has been Benghazi. Here you have people who are so frustrated. I know some of the folks that have talked to wannabe whistleblowers and they have been so intimidated by their departments and their agencies and by this administration from going out and sharing this information with Congress and the American people that we haven't gotten the full story on Benghazi.

"And if this administration continues the same policies and practices, we won't get the full story on Boston, which means we're not going to be enhancing our security to protect America going into the future."

As for the possibility that a foreign government was behind the Boston bombings, Hoekstra says: "There's always the possibility that the radicalization process was facilitated by outside forces, whether it was a government agency or whatever.

"You have to look to some of the former parts of the Soviet Union, not necessarily the government agencies, but organizations in these countries, and you always have to take a look at the work that's going on by al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula."

Also on Tuesday, Obama recommitted to closing the prisoner-detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where 100 prisoners are on a hunger strike. The president said Gitmo is not necessary to keep America safe.

Hoekstra tells Newsmax: "The president has never articulated a real rationale for moving the prisoners out of Gitmo. Why move them and put them in a prison in the United States?

"Closing Gitmo is not a wise decision, and just because these folks that are on a hunger strike in Gitmo doesn’t provide any rationale at all for closing Gitmo.

"The strategy here is to keep Gitmo open, keep these people away from the homeland, and if they go on a hunger strike, so be it.

"Provide them with the medical attention and those types of things they need. But just because they're on a hunger strike doesn’t mean we go and close our prison and change our strategy. It would be a huge win for the folks at Gitmo and the radical jihadists and the people that have been clamoring to close Gitmo for years."

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Obama has drawn criticism for his slow response to the revelation Syria used chemical weapons, saying he needs to see more facts, even though Britain, France, and Israel say President Bashar al-Assad's regime is using chemical weapons.

Sen. John McCain told Newsmax that the president just doesn’t want to get involved in Syria.

"Sen. McCain is absolutely accurate that the president doesn’t want to get involved in Syria," Hoekstra said.

"Regardless of whether Assad used chemical weapons or not, he's been slaughtering thousands of his fellow citizens in Syria for the last two years. What we as a country have failed to do is identify and articulate a clear strategy for what we want to get done in Syria and how we're going to go about getting it done.

"The president is very, very cautious not only because of what we've seen in Afghanistan and Iraq after U.S. involvement, but also by what's going on in Egypt and Libya after those governments collapsed.

"Hopefully, what will happen is rather than a political issue, the president and leaders on Capitol Hill will develop a strategy that will have long-term, bipartisan support."

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