Rick Jensen: Liberals who believe the Paris attacks were caused by U.S. conservative rhetoric, oh yeah, just read Salon.com, AlterNet, Huffington Post, they do, caused by U.S. conservative rhetoric, they're telling you that the Syrian refugees in the U.S. will be thoroughly vetted, so don't you worry about Islamic State terrorists slipping in, like at least one did in Paris. Obama says, quote, 'thoroughly vetted.' Really? I think you, the Jensen Show listener, deserves to hear from someone who actually knows the process. Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, former Representative Pete Hoekstra is on the phone from Michigan. Pete thanks for being on, sir.
Pete Hoekstra: Hey, good to be with you. Thank you.
Jensen: It's great for me. I know you meet thousands of people, and I know I have listeners who said oh you finally got him on again. I said well yeah, but you know he left, you left like what, four years ago out of the House. And you have like 18 years' experience. For how many years were you on the House Intelligence Committee?
Hoekstra: I was on the House Intelligence Committee for 10 years, and I was the, either the chairman or the lead Republican for six-and-a-half years, so you know six-and-a-half years of what they call part of the gang of eight, the eight members of Congress that supposedly are informed by the executive branch of everything that we are doing in our intelligence community.
Jensen: So we are told that all of these Syrian refugees will be, quote, 'thoroughly vetted,' end quote. Tell us about that.
Hoekstra: Well yesterday I came out a little stronger, and I said you know I watched Ben Rhodes, who's the president's deputy national security advisor. And he said you know these people are going to be thoroughly vetted and I said – the guy's lying. There is no way you're going to vet these people coming in from Syria. There's no organized way or even process for getting them out of Syria or out of Turkey. Who are you going, where are you going to get the information from these people on? Are you going to call Bashir Assad and say – Hey, can you give us the information on who these people are and what they've been doing? It's kind of like – no, we're not talking to Bashir Assad; he's the enemy. Are we going to talk to the rebel groups? And it's kind of like – we don't, we can't even vet the rebel groups very well. Remember when we sent arms from Benghazi to Turkey into Syria? We actually gave them to the people that ultimately became ISIS. So if we can't vet the people there who are in the region who we're giving weapons to, how do we think that we're going to be able to vet the people coming out of that region and that we're going to know who they are, what they've done in the last five years during the civil war?
Jensen: And I want to thank you for something else. On a related note, I've written two columns, I'm very, very blessed to have a national sounding board through cable syndication, it goes to 850 newspapers, about 40, 50 picked up every week, and still you talk about Benghazi, people roll their eyes, and you say look, it was gun running, and if you are angry about Iran-Contra then you should be angry at Benghazi, because that's what they were doing. We had these former SEALs who were specialists at finding, procuring and then shipping weapons to the battlefield, we went into Libya and took all these weapons, and they were going through the CIA compound there in Benghazi to Turkey to be shipped off to these jihadis who are fighting Bashir al-Assad, in the hopes there will be blowback. And that was the real reason they had to cover it up. So as a former member of the House Intelligence Committee, thank you very, very much, Pete, for reiterating that, because some people either choose not to believe that or they still haven't learned that that's what was happening there.
Hoekstra: Right. I'm very disappointed that the Benghazi committee, the special committee has not gone after that and has not exposed it. You know we're now you know we're what, four-and-a-half years past Benghazi, there is no reason for that gun running information to be secret any longer to be held from the American public, other than it will be very, very embarrassing to the government officials that were involved with it, because of who we were giving the weapons to.
Jensen: I know it's a side topic, we'll get back to vetting the Syrian refugees, but I'm so glad we're on this for a moment with somebody who was there and you know what was happening. Is the reason that the Republicans wouldn't go after Hillary Clinton and the CIA on this because that means some Republicans would be drawn into this because they knew about it and it could ruin their careers?
Hoekstra: Well I don't know if it would ruin their careers or not, but I'm assuming that this was a gang of eight issue, meaning that the speaker of the House, the Republican chairman of the Intel Committee, the majority leader in the Senate, and the Republican chairman of the Intel Committee in the Senate they would have all been aware of this, you know I don't think it would have ruined their careers. This was an executive branch decision. These folks were briefed, they probably, and they signed off on it. Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats they signed off on black sites, they signed off on enhanced interrogations, and all of these types of things in 2002, 2003, 2004, and even though they signed off on it, there was never any blowback on them. All the blowback was on the Bush administration. But regardless of what the political consequences would or would not be, this is information that the American people should know if it will help us better determine where we go in the future. You don't get into bed with radical jihadists, whether they are going to get rid of Gadhafi or whether they're going to get rid of Bashir Assad, you don't get into bed with them because they are worse than the people that you're trying to get rid of.
Jensen: If you just tuned in, you're listening to Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra, on the phone from Michigan here on the Jensen Show. Let's get back to Syria, vetting the refugees. Our hearts go out to the refugees. We want to do the right thing. Donald Trump suggested you know how about we have a safe haven for these people, and I was reminded – wow, you know we've got entire neighborhoods, little towns almost, especially in Florida, that were abandoned during the great recession, with houses there and such, just what do you think about that as a possible solution?
Hoekstra: No, you create safe havens for them, but you create safe havens for them in the Middle East. You create safe havens for them on the borders adjacent to Iraq, Jordan and Turkey. Remember, there was a huge safe haven in Iraq for years; it was called Kurdistan, the northern part of Iraq. There was a clear demarcation of where Kurdistan stood, they protected those lines. The U.S. provided, and others, provided the air security. We can create safe zones for these folks. A matter of fact, the Kurds are providing safe havens for I think it's close to two-million refugees in Kurdistan today. Create them and provide more support for those regions, and then clean out ISIS. You know the Kurds just liberated the Sinjar Mountain region and Sinjar City, which means that that area gets rebuilt; 400,000 Yazidis and Iraqis and Iraqi Christians will be able to move back into those areas and out of their refugee camps. Take, get to the core root of the problem, which is ISIS and their ability to control an area the size of the state of Indiana. You know clean them out and let people go back home.
Jensen: Is that really possible that they could live there, they wouldn't necessarily assimilate, but they wouldn't start like a little another regional series of battles between the Syrian refugees and others there?
Hoekstra: You mean if we relocate them in a safe haven?
Jensen: Yeah, because you have the Kurds, and now you have, and you're just going to have Shia and Sunni all together in this one area. But again, you said it's the size of Indiana, but still you're going to have people of different religious beliefs, and some of them are going to be very angry and they will not assimilate well.
Hoekstra: The Kurds are providing safe havens right now to Sunnis, to the Shias, and to Yazidis and Christian minorities [few words cut out] problems and those types of things. But these folks recognize that the security that's being provided for them by the Kurds is a whole lot better than the alternative. And you can put them into separate camps and those kinds of things. But you know eventually they're going have to, we're going to have to clean the areas out. These people need to be resettled. And then they're going to have to come to some kind of political accommodation to move forward.
Jensen: Is there any way to really vet these people? And before you answer that question, I was reading intelligence reports this morning, saying that for $150 anybody in Syria can get a fake I.D., fake passports, things like that, and I'm wondering, is there a way though in the 18-month to two-year process that they talk about, to actually really vet anybody who comes here from Syria?
Hoekstra: I don't think so. You could maybe vet a few very, you know very well, but the kinds of numbers that they're talking about coming to the United States or going into Europe, you can't vet those kinds of numbers very effectively. And if it's going to take two years, why don't we spend two years fixing the problem, so instead of us putting them on an airplane or putting them on a boat and shipping them into the United States, you know in two years we ought to be able to eliminate ISIS, take back large parts of this, of these areas, rebuild those areas, and let these folks go back home.
Jensen: President Obama is apparently intent on simply containing ISIS. He says – oh, they're contained and (UI word) that way. And the French President Holland is saying – no, no, no, no, no, we can't contain them; we have to crush them and defeat them. And then you have people here saying – well if we're doing to do that we need boots on the ground, Americans don't want American boots on the ground, how is that actually done then, Pete?
Hoekstra: Well in Iraq you arm the Kurds and you arm the Sunnis, and train them and provide special ops and aggressive air power, you can clean out Iraq relatively quickly. They took back 70 square kilometers, Sinjar Mountain, Sinjar City, they took it back in 48 hours, five killed in action for the Kurds. And remember, that was a city of 400,000 people before everybody fled. Now the area is still booby trapped and those kinds of things, but clean up Iraq first, and then start the process of cleaning up Syria.
Jensen: Alright, appreciate that. Anything else that we need to know about this and we should be thinking as we're all subjected to the politics of the refugee crisis?
Hoekstra: I think you know – hey, we're a humanitarian country, but let's not do anything stupid. Alright?
Jensen: That sounds very familiar – don't do anything stupid.
Hoekstra: Alright, thanks.
Jensen: Alright, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra. Thank you sir, appreciate your time very, very much. Shillman Senior Fellow with the Investigative Project on Terrorism and former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Pete Hoekstra here on the Jensen Show. Your comments welcomed. 302-478-9335302-478-9335302-478-9335302-478-9335. Does he make sense? Is it refreshing to hear something like that? I think so. Or are you totally against what he said?