Interview with Rep. Pete Hoekstra

Interview with Rep. Pete Hoekstra

By Campbell Brown - May 4, 2010

BROWN: We want to bring in right now Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan. He is, of course, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman, appreciate your time tonight.

I know you have been briefed on the very latest. Share with us what you can about this guy and about what we know of the plot itself.

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I think you have got presented already the facts very, very well.

We know that a Pakistani naturalized, that -- and I think the key factors here is that he was back in Pakistan, and that most likely he had connections into Waziristan. I mean, that's exactly what he is telling us.

We have now got to go back. We have got to verify those things, because what we need to do is, we need to better understand how he became radicalized, how he communicated with maybe the masterminds there who gave him the ideas of attacking Times Square, so that we can enhance our intelligence capabilities to catch people like this.

Being lucky can't be our national security strategy. We were lucky on Christmas Day. We were lucky last week. We knew -- we know these types of things are going to happen. It was only on February 2 that the director of national security -- or director of national intelligence, Dennis Blair, said, hey, within the three -- within next three to six months, I expect we will have an attack on the homeland.

Amazingly, he missed it by only one day.

BROWN: But, to that point, I guess -- and I want to get your thoughts on a few other details -- I mean, it was a foiled plot. And, again, we're learning more what happened along the way. But does that give you any comfort that at least some of the systems are in place, or no?

HOEKSTRA: Well, it wasn't foiled by our law enforcement or by our intelligence community. It was foiled because it appears that whatever training he got in Waziristan wasn't very good. Again, we were lucky.

If he had gotten the right kind of training and had assembled this bomb the way that maybe his teachers would have wanted him to construct it, we would now be talking about a very devastating event that happened 60, 70 hours ago in New York's Times Square, and we would be saying, where did the intelligence community, where did the systems break down?

It wasn't foiled. It was -- it failed because of his incompetence, not because of our efforts at identifying and stopping him. That's the key difference.

BROWN: So, let me go back, because, again...


BROWN: ... presumably you have more information about all this than we do. You had mentioned before, and sources have told us that he had multiple visits back and forth to the Middle East over the last five to 10 years.

But he also had a clean record. So, is there any reason to think that he was a threat before this?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I mean, this is where we have to go take a look. I mean, who was he in contact with when he went to the Middle East?

In our surveillance efforts overseas, was he ever in contact with individuals that we might have identified as being suspicious individuals overseas? If so, why didn't we pick him up?

That's the kind of information. That's our job on the Intelligence Committee. That's our job in Congress to do that kind of oversight, not to point blame, but to help make sure that we give the intelligence community the types of tools that they need. These are very -- these are very difficult plots to stop.

We had Major Hasan at Fort Hood. That was one type of attack. We had the Christmas Day bomber. That was a different set of facts. And now we have Times Square. We need to just make sure that our law enforcement and our intelligence community have the tools to hopefully identify these things, so they don't occur.

This is not about law enforcement. This is about keeping America safe.

BROWN: All right, Congressman Pete Hoekstra, appreciate your time tonight, sir.

HOEKSTRA: Hey, thank you.

BROWN: Thanks for joining us.


Campbell Brown

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