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Rep. Will Hurd of Texas Brings CIA Know-How to Congress

Rep. Will Hurd of Texas Brings CIA Know-How to Congress
Rep. Will Hurd, R-Tex. (Public Domain/hurdhouse.gov)

By    |   Friday, 17 July 2015 10:39 AM

Former CIA operative and freshman Rep. Will Hurd brings to Congress a unique background in intelligence and insight into the latest developments in several countries where he has lived.

"That story about being unable to say anything about where I was or what I did when I was with the agency is purely apocryphal," said the Texas Republican, who joined the CIA at age 22 after graduating from Texas A&M University. "I am bound by certain rules, such as not talking about methods and sources, but beyond that I am clear on what I can talk about."

What makes Hurd, 37, an even more intriguing subject for interviews is his almost improbable election last fall in the Lone Star State's heavily Democratic 23rd District.

As he told Newsmax recently, "You’re probably saying to yourself, 'How on earth did this black dude ever get elected in a district that’s 71 percent Hispanic?'"

It’s true. Stretching roughly 825 miles along the Mexican border, from San Antonio to El Paso, the 23rd District sent four different congressmen to Washington from 1992 until 2014, and all were of Hispanic heritage. But two of the four were Republicans, and the district did go narrowly for Mitt Romney and for Sen. Ted Cruz in 2012.

As to how incumbent Democratic Rep. Pete Gallego was unseated by Hurd, who had never held office before and lost a bid for the Republican nomination for Congress in 2010, the Republican lawmaker told us, "it was primarily due to a feeling I picked up from voters, that their congressman was not in touch with them, that Washington wasn’t in touch. And there was a lot of fear and anger about Obamacare and what it would do to healthcare plans.

"So I set out to go to all 29 counties in the district and engage with people."

Using a lot of shoe leather, Hurd unseated Gallego by about 2,500 votes in a race few national political pundits paid attention to — and probably none predicted the outcome.

In his twilight days at Texas A&M, Hurd was headed for a degree in computer science with a minor in international relations. In one of his classes, he heard a former CIA officer speak, and as he put it, "I had decided on a career."

Beginning the interview process, he initially sought to put his computer skills to work in DST (Division of Science and Technology). This, Hurd explained, "is the branch that in the James Bond movies was headed by 'Q,' who created all those great gadgets we saw in the movies.

"So I started off wanting to be 'Q,' but soon I wanted to be James Bond."

Hurd was interviewed by the CIA’s operations division and went to work for its National Clandestine Service. In this capacity, he lived abroad in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India after studying Urdu, the Pakistani national language.

"My 'status' abroad was as businessman, but I never actually lived under an alias," he told us. "You can’t really do it. But I did use a false last name as cover for action. If you have both names that are false, someone you’ve met will see you and say, 'Hey Will' and it looks strange when you say 'No, I’m John.'"

Hurd also spent nine years at the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where he briefed members of Congress on intelligence issues. He said: "I was there for 9/11."

A Passion for Intelligence Issues

Rep. Hurd was assigned a seat on the House Homeland Security Committee and he became chairman of the Information Technology Subcommittee of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

"I just got my first bill passed — the first by a congressman from the 23rd District to be enacted since 2007," he said proudly, referring to the Hurd bill to provide more assistance to the Border Patrol, which President Barack Obama recently signed into law.

As someone who "chased al-Qaida most of my life," Hurd is passionate about intelligence-related issues. He believes that the recent computer foul-up that struck the New York Stock Exchange and United Airlines is "a wake-up call and could happen again. This is a private sector problem that the government has to look into."

Representing a constituency whose major concern is immigration, the Texas Republican told us "once we secure our border and realize that a one-size-fits-all approach to illegal immigration won’t work, we are near a solution to the overall problem."

But Hurd is a strong backer of legal immigration because "we can benefit from the brain drain in Mexico and other countries."

One of two black Republicans in the House (the other is Utah’s freshman Rep. Mia Love), Hurd gently brushes aside race-related questions and stresses that immigration and national security are his chief concerns.

We did ask, though, what he thought of America’s first black president.

"I haven’t met him. I only saw him from a distance at a ceremony honoring the San Antonio Spurs [basketball team] at the White House," he said.

"His foreign policy is disastrous and the next president will have to work hard to repair relationships with many of our allies. Let’s say he’s not going to win any 'best president' awards after he leaves office. He won’t be the San Antonio Spurs of the NBA."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

Joely Friedman, a senior at Ohio State University, is a National Journalism summer intern at Newsmax’s Washington bureau.

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Former CIA operative and freshman Rep. Will Hurd brings to Congress a unique background in intelligence and insight into the latest developments in several countries where he has lived.
will hurd, texas, congress, border, cia
Friday, 17 July 2015 10:39 AM
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