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Transcript: Rep. Pete Hoekstra on 'FNS'
Written by Chris Wallace / Published May 07, 2006 / Fox News Sunday
The following is a partial transcript from the May 7, 2006, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":
"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" HOST CHRIS WALLACE: The apparently forced resignation of CIA chief Porter Goss on Friday shocked most of official Washington. So what's behind the move and what's next for the CIA? For answers, we turn to Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
And, Congressman, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday".
REP. PETER HOEKSTRA, R-MICH.: Thank you. Good to be here.
WALLACE: The big question today, of course, is who is going to be the new CIA chief, and the warehouse is putting out the word that the almost certain choice is going to be General Michael Hayden, the former head of the National Security Agency and the top deputy now to the director of national intelligence, John Negroponte.
One, do you think he'll get the job? And two, is he the right man?
HOEKSTRA: Well, we'll have to wait until the president makes an announcement. Obviously, that's his call. I've got a lot of respect for Mike Hayden. I think he's done a very good job in the positions that he's had. He's got a distinguished career.
Bottom line, I do believe he's the wrong person, the wrong place, at the wrong time. We should not have a military person leading a civilian agency at this time.
WALLACE: Well, explain that, because there have been, I think, a half dozen military people leading the CIA over the years, I guess most recently, back in the Carter administration, Admiral Stansfield Turner. So this is not unprecedented.
HOEKSTRA: It's not unprecedented. It's a bad time. You know, there's been a tremendous amount of tension between the CIA, Department of Defense, the intelligence community over the last 18 months. It was highlighted in the fact that when we did intelligence reform, the biggest opponent to doing intelligence reform was the Department of Defense.
There's ongoing tensions between this premiere civilian intelligence agency and DOD as we speak. And I think putting a general in charge — regardless of how good Mike is, putting a general in charge is going to send the wrong signal through the agency here in Washington, but also to our agents in the field around the world.
WALLACE: Well, is it your feeling that as an active general that General Hayden would be under the sway of Don Rumsfeld?
HOEKSTRA: I think that clearly will be the perception in the CIA both, again, here in Washington and at the CIA. I don't think you can underestimate the difficulty in rebuilding, reshaping and transforming the Central Intelligence Agency. This is the debate we don't need at this time.
WALLACE: What about the possibility that has been raised — what if Mike Hayden were to resign his commission and step down as an active general?
HOEKSTRA: I think the perception is still going to be — it's going to be the wrong kind of perception. There are talented folks out there that can take the agency where it needs to go, and they don't have to, and they shouldn't, come from a military background.
WALLACE: Let me ask you about another aspect of this. Mike Hayden, according to intelligence sources who I talked to yesterday, was one of the driving forces in getting Porter Goss out.
He was one of the lead men for Negroponte in trying to strip the CIA of some of its powers, particularly to take the analysis part of it out and put it in the Department of National Intelligence.
If Hayden now takes over the CIA after having helped in this process of forcing Goss out, could that be perceived or could it, in fact, be a sense of the CIA being dangerously diminished?
HOEKSTRA: I think so. I mean, you brought up a number of issues there. Number one, moving the analytical function out of the CIA into the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — that's not what we envision in intelligence reform.
The DNI was supposed to be coordinating and bringing these 16 agencies together, not becoming a doer of things. He was the chief executive officer, not an operating officer. I'm concerned about that direction.
And if General Hayden was an architect of that, he's going to be going into an agency where the people in the agency say he's not an advocate for us. He's the one that's, you know, potentially gutting what we believe are some of our core functions.
WALLACE: Now, I mean, explain to us, because a lot of this stuff, I'm sure, to a lot of people — frankly, to me — seems like a lot of sort of bureaucratic moving of chairs.
What's the danger if the Pentagon takes over a prominence in the intelligence community over the CIA? What's the danger if analysis is stripped out of the CIA?
HOEKSTRA: The danger of having the military take over intelligence is that the military has a very different perspective on the world. They're worried about today and wars, you know, and threats to the United States in the short term and how we might respond militarily.
So they need information that helps them better prepare for fighting and winning future wars or winning the war that we are in today.
The CIA's job is to provide us as policymakers better information so that we can make informed policy decisions of which — you know, war, and winning a war and the consequences of war are very, very different.
WALLACE: You are not just another congressman. You are — I don't have to tell you — the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Have you told the White House that this man who is on the front pages of the paper as basically being called the next CIA director — have you told them you oppose this choice?
HOEKSTRA: I've been asked for input on some names. I've given them my feedback. I don't think anything that I've said to you this morning is news to the White House.
WALLACE: And obviously, it doesn't seem to have stopped them.
HOEKSTRA: I don't know. I mean, obviously, the president has not made a choice or has not announced a choice at this point.
WALLACE: Now, as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, if they go ahead and name General Hayden as the CIA director, is that going to make it difficult to operate in this environment?
HOEKSTRA: No. Mike and I have a very good personal relationship. We've worked together for three years, four years. You know, we both have to be focused on building a great intelligence community, transforming the community, and we'll have to work together. Like I said, I think he's the wrong person today.
WALLACE: Give me an idea of one or two names of who you think would be the right person.
HOEKSTRA: You know, I knew that was going to come up. I don't have names. I mean, the...
WALLACE: Well, you said you offered names to them.
HOEKSTRA: No, I said they have given me names, other names...
WALLACE: Oh, all right.
HOEKSTRA: ... other than Hayden we provided them feedback on, but I've not — you know, I was caught by surprise on Friday, like many people. I was with Porter on Wednesday. I talked to him on Thursday. The guy can keep secrets. I had no idea this was coming, and then I talked to him again on Friday.
WALLACE: Well, all right. Now, let's talk about that part of the equation here. It's become clear that Porter Goss was forced out as CIA director. The White House — officials there are saying he made too many enemies, created too many waves within the CIA.
Sources in the intelligence community tell me, as we just mentioned, that he fought decisions by Negroponte to strip the CIA of some of its powers. What do you believe is the real story of why Goss is out?
HOEKSTRA: I think some of that all may be true. I don't think it's all necessarily bad. I think cleaning house at the CIA needed to happen. I mean, it's not like we were saying wow, didn't we have great intelligence before 9/11, didn't we have great intelligence before we went into Iraq.
It became painfully evident that the CIA needed to be transformed. Porter Goss was leading that effort. And when you change an organization, you're going to make enemies, and you're going to let some people go.
In terms of being an advocate for the CIA, that's exactly what I want in that person at the CIA, somebody who can go toe to toe with the director of national intelligence — same at NSA. You want strong leaders in these doing operations to make sure that you get the kind of results that we need.
You can't have "yes" people in these organizations. You need advocates fighting for them.
WALLACE: So do you think it was a mistake to force him out?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I mean, that — you know, I think Porter in many ways was ready to go. You know, three years, four years ago he wanted to leave Congress. The speaker of the house asked him to stay for one more term. Then they asked him to become director of the CIA.
He made some important changes. I think he was ready to go, and so now it's important. Cut down this transition time. Get new leadership in there quickly and move forward.
WALLACE: Let me ask you, because we can't let this occasion pass without talking about the fact that there was a lot of criticism in this town of Porter Goss. He was, as we said, brought in in the CIA in 2004 because of all the intelligence failures after 9/11, the WMD in Iraq.
He was brought in because there had been a series of leaks within the agency that seemed to be against President Bush in the middle of the 2004 election campaign, but many professionals at the agency thought that he was too political.
Take a look at what Jane Harman, your counterpart on the House Intelligence Committee, said after Goss resigned. "In the last year and a half, more than 300 years of experience has either been pushed out or walked out the door in frustration. This has left the agency in free fall."
Mr. Chairman, you have to admit there has been something of a brain drain at the CIA under Porter Goss.
HOEKSTRA: Absolutely. He was brought in to make changes. If this was an agency that when he came in was functioning at a high level of efficiency and we'd say man, it's a great organization, I'd be concerned about those things.
I've managed, you know, in businesses and those types of things. This agency was in free fall when Porter Goss moved into this job, and he was attempting to bring in the right people to transform it. This thing needs to be rebuilt. It needs to be reshaped.
You know, it has to be an organization that can compete toe to toe with Al Qaeda and radical Islam, 24/7, and they have to be able to whip them each and every day, and this organization is not in a position to do that today.
WALLACE: Well, let me ask you about that, because I know when we talked a few weeks ago, you were very concerned that Negroponte and the director of national intelligence — that instead of making the intelligence community leaner and more active in fighting Al Qaeda, in fact that they were creating another level of bureaucracy.
Is what's happened this week, with Goss out and if we get Michael Hayden in — isn't this your worst fears being realized?
HOEKSTRA: I'm not sure it's my worst fear. But I mean, obviously, we're going to have to go back and push on it. You know, does this make it more entrepreneurial or more bureaucratic? Does this flatten the organization or does it make it more hierarchical? Does it make decision making quicker or slower?
We're going to push on all of those things. And if we're moving more authority and more control and more doing — you know, more activity management — to the DNI, yes, I'm concerned.
WALLACE: We're going to have to leave it there, Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you so much for coming in. And whether you got the White House's attention before, I suspect you did this morning. Thanks so much for joining us and discussing this breaking story.
HOEKSTRA: Great. Thank you.
This week: We'll have an exclusive interview with Sen James Lankford (R-OK), member of the Appropriations, Homeland Security and Intelligence Committees.