Varney: Former congressman Pete Hoekstra is here. He was the chair of the Intelligence Committee in the House of Representatives. So welcome to the program. Very good to have you with us.
Hoekstra: Thank you. Good to be here.
Varney: My take in the our take on this incident is the vulnerability of America. If that can happen in Sydney, Australia, shut the place down with one person taking hostages in a café for Islamic reasons, precisely the same thing could happen here on a larger scale right before Christmas. I'm saying we, our vulnerability, has been exposed. And you say?
Hoekstra: I think you're absolutely right. Remember this guy in Australia was someone that really had been on the radar screen since 2007. He was refused access to even see his own children. He wrote a letter to Prime Minister Abbott a year ago. He committed and pledged allegiance to ISIS and Baghdadi a month ago. So this is someone who is on the radar screen, someone that the Australian authorities knew a lot about, and he was still able to do something like this. Think about the lone wolf or the person that hasn't been identified and the damage that they could do either in Australia or right here in the United States.
Varney: Congressman, on the Intelligence Committee you must have come across quite a lot of information. I won't ask you to share that with us now, but presumably this same kind of thing, these same kind of characters, must be in America right now and the authorities must know about them. Can I say that?
Hoekstra: Oh I think that's absolutely right. We've seen the kinds of attacks here in the United States like Fort Hood, but there are others. There are Americans who have gone to Syria, who have gone to Iraq, who have fought with ISIS. We have to watch those individuals as they come back.
Varney: Congressman, can I interrupt for one second? You say we've got to watch those individuals. Are we allowed to do that? Does our Constitution permit us to single out people under suspicion, go after them, check their mail, check their emails, check their associations, follow their phone calls? Can we do that?
Hoekstra: Well on each one of those cases you have to see exactly how much evidence they have. Clearly if they're providing material support to terrorist organizations you would think that the day that they set foot back on United States soil they would be arrested. But with a lot of these individuals we don't have that much information on them. We know that they were over there. We suspect them of things and then they all become an individual case where we present the evidence, the background material to a court, to a judge, to see if we can actually get an opportunity to surveil them and get additional information. So each one of those will be an individual case and sometime it's very difficult to have enough information to actually prove that these people are a threat. It's hard.
Varney: In your experience sir, is this administration downplaying the threat of the lone wolf operative within the United States?
Hoekstra: Oh I think this administration has been downplaying the threat from radical jihadism on a global basis, both here in the United States and internationally. Take a look at where we are. They're now talking about 2016 before we can have any meaningful action against ISIS in Syria and in Iraq. ISIS now also controls territory in Libya which provides them an access to the soft underbelly of Europe. The threat under this administration from radical jihadism has grown, and we are probably now as vulnerable as any time since 9/11 2001.
Varney: Congressman Pete Hoekstra, I hate that to be the last word but we do appreciate you being with us. Thank you sir.
Hoekstra: Great. Thank you.