Tags: obama | rice | fight | nomination

Hoekstra to Newsmax: Obama Faces 'Rough Fight' Over Rice Nomination

By    |   Friday, 30 November 2012 12:09 AM

Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax that President Obama may be spoiling for a “rough fight” over the expected nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State to divert attention from the Benghazi fiasco.

The Michigan Republican also asserts that recent congressional hearings on the Benghazi events could well have been conducted openly instead of behind closed doors.

And he warns that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has become an “agitator” in the Middle East, and the United States should seriously consider curtailing American add to Egypt.

Story continues below the video.

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. He currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Newsmax partner site Lignet.com.

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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has not yet been officially nominated to replace Hillary Clinton at the head of the State Department. In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Thursday, Hoekstra was asked if he expects Obama to nominate her.

“All the indications are that if he appoints her it’s going to be a rough fight and a rough struggle,” he says.

“It may be the fight that the president wants to have because as the Republican senators are talking about Susan Rice, the thing that they are not talking about is exactly what should be talked about – what happened in Benghazi.

“So the president may appoint Susan Rice, number one because he thinks she is qualified, but the second thing is to continue to hold the debate about Susan Rice rather than about the debacle that happened in Benghazi. He may want to use this to change the subject.

“Personally, he is best off if he does not nominate Rice. What she talked about on the Sunday mornings shows totally discredits her, her perspectives in these types of things. She would go into that position, or even into the nomination process, as a crippled nominee. It would be difficult to confirm her. I don’t think that’s the way the president would want to or should start off his second term in office.”

Several Republicans senators including Susan Collins of Maine and Bob Corker of Tennessee have praised John Kerry, saying that he would sail through the nomination process for Secretary of State.

Hoekstra comments: “What you have there is you have senatorial courtesy. When one of their own is going to be appointed into a cabinet position, there is the courtesy. The Senate is all about personal relationships.

“Yeah, he would sail through the process. Whether he would be the better candidate – compared to Susan Rice, he would be a much better Secretary of State.”

Regarding the Benghazi “debacle” Hoekstra mentioned and recent closed-door hearings on Capitol Hill with former CIA Director David Petraeus, Hoekstra says he believes part of those hearings should have been made public.

“Having been on the Intelligence Committee for 10 years, I can tell you that much of what happens behind closed doors could happen out in the open. This whole thing about classified and national security interests and these types of things – that is used way too often.

“Much of what has been going on in Benghazi could be put out in the open so that the American people could see it and could get a better understanding of exactly what happened in Benghazi.

“The bottom line is I can’t tell you the number of times we would go into a closed-door hearing, get a top-secret exclusive briefing, and as soon we came out, we could have read the same stuff if not more in the Washington Post.”

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Given Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s attempt at a power grab and the struggles he faces within the Egyptian military, Hoekstra doubts he can be a true partner in any kind of peace process in the region,” he tells Newsmax.

“Number one, I don’t see him as actually wanting to achieve that role as brokering the peace process, as Mubarak might have or Sadat.

“Morsi is going to be more problematic in Egypt and Egypt is going to be going more towards an Islamist state. Mubarak would have never let happen what happened with Gaza, sending rockets into Israel recently. Mubarak would have stopped that.

“Mubarak was a mentor to King Abdullah in Jordan. I see Morsi as someone who may actually support the opposition to Abdullah in Jordan. That’s a very tenuous position to begin with. Rather than being a stabilizing force, like Mubarak was through the entire Middle East, I see Morsi as being someone who is going to be more of an agitator in that region rather than a force for positive change.”

Hoekstra adds that he suspects Morsi was actually “complicit” in the rocket attacks on Israel, saying “I’m not sure he is even trying to stop it.”
The former congressman was asked if the time has come to cut off American aid to Egypt.

“We have always had that discussion about when do you cut off the aid to Pakistan, when you cut off the aid to Egypt,” he responds.

“There could be a very strong argument made that with the direction and the decisions that Morsi is making, the United States could no longer support him. It’s what he is doing externally. It’s also what he is doing internally — the persecution of religious minorities, the persecution of the Coptics.

“Within the last couple of days, eight Coptic pastors, including one here in the United States, have been convicted in absentia with the death penalty. The Coptics are suffering tremendously under this new regime, and you put that all together and there is a question about whether he is really an ally of the United States or not. The aid should be seriously considered, and unless he starts to change his behavior and Egypt starts to change its behavior, it would be time to send that message and say: ‘No, we are not supporting this.’”

Hoekstra expresses doubts that the Turks, Qataris, Saudis, or Jordanians can help establish a peace process in the Middle East.

“Egypt is the lynchpin,” he declares.

“Turkey’s relationship with Israel has deteriorated over the last number of years. Jordan can’t do it - Jordan has enough issues with the Iraqi refugees, the Syrian refugees coming into Jordan. King Abdullah is widely respected and he is a very strong friend of the United States, but he doesn’t have the cache to actually have those negotiations. Egypt is the lynchpin. Egypt needs to make this happen.

“Under this current government, they don’t want to go in that direction. I don’t think [Morsi] has the credibility to move in that direction. I think we are in for a sustained period of instability in the Middle East because of an Egypt that is going through transition and it’s transitioning in the wrong direction right now.”

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In his exclusive Newsmax interview, Hoekstra also says Israel is very concerned about the United Nations effort to give limited statehood to Palestine and feels increasingly isolated in the region.

He also maintains that Democrats have no incentive to reach a compromise over the looming fiscal cliff — and says it would be a “terrible idea” for Republicans to agree to lower taxes only on lower-income Americans.

See other excerpts of the Newsmax interview with former Rep. Pete Hoekstra:

Hoekstra: Democrats Have No Incentive to Avert Fiscal Cliff

Hoekstra: Israel 'Isolated' by Events in the Middle East

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Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Pete Hoekstra tells Newsmax that President Obama may be spoiling for a rough fight over the expected nomination of Susan Rice as Secretary of State to divert attention from the Benghazi fiasco. The Michigan Republican also...
Friday, 30 November 2012 12:09 AM
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