The United States "hung" Iraqi soldiers "out to dry" when President Barack Obama pulled troops out of Baghdad in 2011 — and that will hamper any major effort to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS), former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV
"We had an integrated system that really gave us ground truth in real time for our troops," Hoekstra, the former Michigan Republican who headed the panel from 2004 to 2007, told "Newsmax Prime" host J.D. Hayworth.
"When we pulled out, we pulled out the signals' intelligence, we pulled out the overhead — but most importantly, we left our human intelligence.
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"Those Iraqis that were partnering with us; we hung them out to dry," he added. "As we now go back in and try to re-establish with the Iraqis, the people who we need in the ground to tell us what's actually happening, they're not going to partner with us.
"They saw what we did to the last folks that put their lives on the line," Hoekstra added.
"They're not going to take that risk again.
"It's absolutely outrageous what we did in Iraq. We took great intelligence and we totally destroyed it — and now, we've got to try to recreate it."
National defense expert Clare Lopez noted that U.S. intelligence has suffered greatly because of the lack of troops in in Iraq.
"It's tough when you don't have a presence on the ground in the person of troops, of Special Forces, or other intelligence operatives," she told Hayworth. "When that goes away and when our troops are withdrawn, so do the intelligence-collection capabilities.
"The other part about that is we can operate out of different places, but it's difficult when you don't have the same amount of presence on the ground that we had back then," Lopez said.
Hoekstra added that the charges filed Wednesday against a 20-year-old New York college student arrested over the weekend
for allegedly plotting to set off a pressure-cooker bomb to support ISIS proved that Islamic jihadism is rapidly growing in the United States.
"The threat is alive and well in the United States, and congratulations to our law enforcement for continuing to catch these folks — but they're not going to be able catch them all," he said.
"The threat is real and it's here in the homeland."
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