Pete Hoekstra: Cutting CIA Interrogation Makes Us Vulnerable

Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011 09:37 AM

By Ronald Kessler

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President Barack Obama’s restrictions on terrorist interrogations have brought them to a halt and made the country more vulnerable to attack, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who was chairman of the House Permanent Committee on Intelligence, tells Newsmax.

Obama’s insistence on the use of the U.S. Army Field Manual to govern how interrogations are conducted means valuable intelligence is being lost, says Hoekstra, who now is a senior adviser to the law firm Dickstein Shapiro. Interrogation rules imposed by the Army Field Manual are even more restrictive than those followed by police and FBI agents when interrogating American citizens who are criminal suspects.

“President Obama condemns enhanced interrogation as being inhumane and torture, but at the same time there are press reports that claim that he’s using Predator drones at two to three times the rate that President Bush used them,” Hoekstra says. “The use of a Predator drone typically ends up in a bunch of people getting killed. And this is the same president who sent in a team to kill Osama bin Laden.”

Indeed, Hoekstra says, the press has reported that a missile strike from an American military drone last month was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric believed to be hiding in Yemen.

“There’s really no interrogation program,” Hoekstra says. “They were going to put together this interrogation unit, the High Value Interrogation Group. A year or so after Obama committed to having one, it isn’t operational as far as I know. So the interrogation program and the tools that they need are just not there.”

That places the country at risk.

“If you are not interrogating folks, you’re losing valuable intelligence,” Hoekstra says. “If you lose intelligence, it makes you more vulnerable.”
Hoekstra praises Leon Panetta for his stewardship at the CIA and for having publicly confirmed that terrorists subjected to enhanced interrogation contributed to the intelligence that led to bin Laden’s location.

As noted in my story “Bin Laden Proves CIA Critics Wrong,” only three terrorists were waterboarded, and as part of their training, the military subjects our own troops to waterboarding.

“Panetta has respect for Congress and is very forthcoming,” Hoekstra says. “He said enhanced interrogation worked.” But Obama’s policies are riddled with inconsistencies, Hoekstra says.

“Eric Holder and the Justice Department are still investigating the guys that did enhanced interrogation to determine whether they can be or should be prosecuted,” Hoekstra says. “That sends a message to everybody in the CIA not to take risks in the future.”

While interrogations have ground to a halt and former CIA officers may be prosecuted, “Gitmo is still open,” Hoekstra says. “We’re not doing trials in New York. We’re doing the Predator attacks. In fact, he is using them more extensively than President Bush did.”

On the one hand, “I think he recognizes that he’s gotta do some of this stuff,” Hoekstra says. “I think he actually listens to people like Panetta and Bob Gates,” the defense secretary. “But on the other hand,” Hoekstra says, “with other stuff like enhanced interrogation and prosecution of former CIA officers, he is clearly not listening to them.”

Editor’s Note: Get Ron Kessler’s book, "The Secrets of the FBI." Go Here Now.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. He is a New York Times best-selling author of books on the Secret Service, CIA, and FBI. His latest, "The Secrets of the FBI," is to be released in August. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via email. Go Here Now.

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