Farley: Let's welcome to the program a guest who has been with us from time to time, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra, one time the chair of the Intelligence Committee. He is joining us here. He's a Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He tweets @PeteHoekstra, and I'll spell it for you at the end. Congressman, welcome back. Thanks for being here.
Hoekstra: Hey, good to be with you. Thank you. Good morning.
Farley: Alright, so put in perspective if you will the events that have taken place since Friday. We have now understood that the police in Paris have, or actually in St. Denis, which is a suburb of Paris, have finally raided, and I'm not sure if it's over now. But clearly this has been a hair-raising several days. What do you put on this? Give us your perspective on what has been taking place.
Hoekstra: Well I think what we've seen is something that a lot of people have expected, you know with the refugees coming in, but also with just the large Muslim populations in Europe, many of the individuals who have not been assimilated or integrated into their society, you know we've seen them act out and carry out the jihadist attack over the weekend. The French have had a very, very you know hard response to that, both internally and internationally, attacking ISIS locations in Syria, going after what they believe are accomplices in Paris. And the rest of Europe is on an enhanced security footing, and the U.S. is starting an immigration debate. So a lot of things have happened in the last 72 hours.
Farley: What is your experience with the French and their intelligence capabilities? There's been some criticism that maybe they were not as vigilant as they needed to be, especially in the wake of the attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine a few months back?
Hoekstra: No, I think the French are very, very good. Not only are they good domestically; they're also good internationally in parts of the world, we relied on them very heavily. We were not and are not that good in Northern Africa and Central Africa. The French are very, very good there. They've got long roots and a long history there. I think the French are very, very good. But they also have a much more significant problem potentially than what the U.S. has, with all the folks that they have inside their country who have not integrated into their society, where these radical jihadists can be born, developed, where they can plan, train and prepare to attack.
Farley: Again, former Congressman Pete Hoekstra with us, as we're discussing the Paris attacks. And as you mentioned, there is now a debate on Syrian refugees. The administration has said we can take in 10,000. There have been some objection, but really not a lot of formal pushback, now the House of Representatives preparing to vote on legislation that would indeed cause a pause in this allowance. What is the concern specifically about the vetting process for these refugees? Because my understanding is that the vetting for people like that trying to come into the country is as difficult, if not even more difficult, than somebody who might be trying to enter the country illegally.
Hoekstra: It's a very difficult vetting process. The problem is, and I'm talking about information here, it's garbage into the system, garbage out. When you go into an area like Syria that is an ungoverned state, an ungoverned region, you don't get very good information as to who these individuals and who these people are. So it's very, very difficult to vet, because you're not functioning or working with a nation state who has records, because we don't have relationships with Syria, and the areas that were controlled by ISIS, or controlled by the rebels, or some other groups, you know they have no functioning government, so there's no data, there's no information. So it's just very, very hard to track. It's a slow, long process, but if you don't have good information, it doesn't matter whether it takes three months or whether it takes three years; it's just very, very hard. The other thing is they do now talk about this process taking two years from start to finish. Well let's hope in two years we've reclaimed significant amounts of territory from ISIS, if not all of the territory, and that we're rebuilding the cities and the communities that these individuals have come from, and they can start going back home, rather than having to look to Europe or the United States for resettlement.
Farley: Congressman, there's one other part of this issue that I'd like to get at if I could, and that is the wording that is used. There has much been made about in the debate the other night, Democratic candidates not wanting to use the expression 'radical Islam.' Why do you think that's important? Why not just refer to it as 'radical terrorism,' 'radical jihadism'?
Hoekstra: You have to recognize the threat for what it is. I'm not going to get into a debate as to whether Islam is a religion of peace or it's a religion of violence. But what we do know –
Farley: Do you think there's a debate about that?
Hoekstra: Oh sure, I think there is. I mean you've got President Bush and President Obama who have defined Islam as a religion of peace; you have other scholars who have looked at Islam and said – you know that's not what we're seeing. But what we do know is we do know that the people that are attacking, that attacked here, that have attacked other places, believe that they are attacking in the interest of promoting their faith, you know their faith and their belief in God. So you have to recognize the inspiration of that. And that doesn't mean we are at war with Islam. That doesn't mean that we are at war with all Muslims. It just means that we are concerned about the threat of those who claim that jihad and violent jihad is a tenet of their religion. So you need to understand it if you're going to confront it, contain it and ultimately defeat it.
Farley: Do you think that Islam is a religion of peace?
Hoekstra: I think that there are people who are using Islam to perpetrate very, very violent acts.
Farley: But you believe it is a religion of peace?
Hoekstra: It's not for me to define. There are all different kinds of strands. I have great relations with lots of Muslims throughout the Middle East, throughout other parts of the world, that I have worked with, that I feel very, very comfortable with, that share some of the same, many of the same values that I would believe that I have. And then there are others that are using Islam. I won't put myself out there to say you know – for everyone that is out there, if they use the right interpretation of Islam, that it is a religion of peace – or that it is a religion of violence. They are interpreting it differently.
Farley: Alright, we will leave it at that. Congressman, as always, thank you for being here on POTUS Today.
Hoekstra: Hey, good to be with you.
Farley: Former Congressman Pete Hoekstra is a former chair of the House Intelligence Committee. He's now a Stillman, I'm sorry, a Shillman Senior Fellow at the Investigative Project on Terrorism. He joins us and tweets @PeteHoekstra.