Larson: Welcome back to the Lars Larson show. Glad to get your phone calls and your emails, and always a pleasure to welcome back to the program former Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Congressman it's good to have you on the program again.
Hoekstra: Hey great. Thank you. It's nice to be back with you also.
Larson: Hey tell me this. The President of France has said that he would like to declare war on the Islamic State. And I guess I got one email from a former military listener who said, 'Well if he does that the NATO treaty effectively forces the United States to be part of that.' And I'm not sure that's necessarily a bad idea. What do we need to do to fight the Islamic State?
Hoekstra: Well first we need to recognize that it's a real threat and then the president said today. 'Well my strategy is working but maybe I need a little bit more intensity.' Number one, the strategy is not working. Number two is we need a whole lot more intensity against ISIS and against radical Islamic jihadists. Take a look at what's happened in the last three years Lars. You've got Yemen is now an ungoverned state; Libya is an ungoverned state; Syria and Iraq are ungoverned states. Syria and Iraq provide people with an easy access to Europe as does Libya. The threat is closer. I'm getting to the point declaring war is not a bad idea if maybe we'd give our military the right kind of rules of engagement to actually fight ISIS and defeat them.
Larson: It's funny today just a moment ago I was talking to Sebastian Gorka from the Marine Corps University and I mentioned to him that military.com is reporting late today that there's been an airstrike by US jets on a convoy of 100 ISIS oil tankers. Apparently they're moving a lot of the oil from the fields to where they can turn it into cash with actual tankers rather than pipelines, and probably because their conventional ways of selling it have been shut off. So they're selling at the old-school way, you know by hauling it somewhere and then selling it and they've been doing that ever since before the last war in Iraq. That sounds to me like the first time I've ever heard of that. A-10 warthogs going and wiping out one of these convoys, and Gorka said that nonclassified stuff he's been provided with says our guys and gals are operating under such tight rules of engagement they get up in the air and they loiter and they aren't allowed to hit anything.
Hoekstra: That's the same thing I'm hearing. Lars, we got ask the question - how come there are still 100 tankers even available after a year? And you know it might be laughable except there are people dying. Yesterday and today the French, they go out and they say they take out a recruiting center, they take out of training camp and they take out a munitions dump among some other targets, and you sit there and say, 'I thought we were bombing them for the last 12 months. Why are these building still standing?'
Larson: Well and if they move play whack a mole. So they move their command-and-control to the next building over, the next town over, you flatten that one. Isn't that the way you win a war? It sounds like President Obama does not want to win this war. He said today in that news conference in Turkey, 'The only way to win the civil war in Syria,' which I assume he's applying to ISIS as well, 'is though diplomacy.' Is diplomacy going to settle this?
Hoekstra: It's not. You've got to have an element of diplomacy to pick up the pieces once ISIS is gone, but the first thing is you have to defeat these folks and that means you probably got to kill most of them. But getting back to the rules of engagement, I met with a former special ops guy that just spent some time up in the Kurdistan region and he said, Pete I can't help these Kurdish folks even though they're going to the front line they just took Sinjar back. Sinjar mountains, the city of Sinjar. They're taking casualties. He said I can't help them in those kinds of situation because my rules of engagement are so limited. You send 50 special ops - and I think this is almost criminal - 50 to Syria. 50 of them, and they're there for 60 days at a time. That doesn't give them enough time to actually help whoever we're trying to help there by understanding the enemy, understanding how they're fighting, the terrain, build the relationships to actually win a war. 60 days is an embarrassment to our military and to our soldiers and for what we expect them to do.
Larson: Well and the President says that, you look at what happened in Paris and they say that at least a quarter of those eight people -25% of them - may have come in with other refugees, but the President says he's sticking to his plan to bring tens of thousands of these refugees to the United States. I know it gets a little outside of your lane when you were chair of the House Intelligence Committee but he says these people can be properly vetted. It sounds to me like we're going to be importing to our country within those 10 to 60,000 people, if they're even a few dozen of them who are like the folks who carried out the attack on Friday night, then we can just expect which city is it going to be in America that gets hit.
Hoekstra: This is not outside my lane; this is exactly the lane that we have in the intelligence community. I know what kind of resources we had in Syria and in Iraq and some of these places, the intelligence capabilities we have. I have a good understanding of how good our vetting is. Do we really know who we're allowing into the country, do we have access to the records in Syria as to who the bad folks are? And if we have access to the records are they any good? I don't know if you saw Ben Rhodes over the weekend.
Larson: I did, I did.
Hoekstra: Bottom line Lars, this guy is lying to the American people. He is saying we have a good vetting process. I'm sorry, Syria is a ungoverned state. The records don't exist and whatever records do exist we probably don't have access to. We don't know who these people are coming into Europe, these people that want to come in to the United States. They are from all over the place and we have no idea what they've been doing for the last five years. Remember the civil war has been going on in Syria for a long time and they're not keeping detailed records of who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. It is awful to have someone that high in the administration trying to tell the American people, 'Oh yeah we vet these people, we have a good vetting process and so we know exactly who's coming in and what they've done in the past.' That is totally untrue. I've been in these kinds of environments where there are refugees and I can tell you that in those kinds of situations the intelligence on individual actors is not very good.
Larson: Congressman Pete Hoekstra is with us right now, former chair of the House Intelligence Committee and the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. One last thing, congressman. There was a reporter from the Daily Mail who went out and spent $2,000 of the boss's money and bought a passport with his name and his face on it, but it was a Syrian passport, and he took it to a passport expert and the guy said this is as good as anything the government is producing. So it sounds to me like if ISIS has control of the kind of money they have from oil and stolen from banks, that they're going to have no problem putting plenty of people on the ground in the United States, with the help of the President. So how do we stop that?
Hoekstra: Well a couple of things. Number one, the average passport is not going to cost $2,000 because it was somebody from the UK going in and have $2,000. If you're in Syria you're going to be able to get one a whole lot cheaper than that. They'll do that for 100 bucks. What I'm hoping they're going to do is, there's now talk about it, they do the final appropriation bill, this omnibus bill at the end of the year, that they're going to put in there restrictions on the President not allowing these Syrian refugees, and refugees – remember, not all of them are coming from Syria. There's others coming from Afghanistan, they're coming from Iraq, they're coming from Libya. Put real strict regulations and requirements before any of these people get into the United States.
Larson: Congressman it's a pleasure as always. Thank you so much for your service in the Congress and I appreciate your time. Congressman Pete Hoekstra, the Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. You're listening to the Lars Larson show.