This is a partial transcript of "Special Report With Brit Hume" from Nov. 18, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.
JIM ANGLE, GUEST HOST: Even nastier than the debate over when American troops should come home from Iraq is the sniping over pre-war intelligence and whether it was exaggerated by the administration. Just how much information did Congress have?
For a discussion of that and a new proposal for a massive declassification of documents captured in the War on Terror, Michigan Congressman Pete Hoekstra, chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, joins us.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
PETER HOEKSTRA (R), HOUSE SELECT INTELL. CMTE CHMN: It’s good to be here.
ANGLE: Let me ask you first, you are proposing that we declassify some 35,000 boxes of documents captured in the War on Terror. What are they? Where are they? And why do you want to declassify them?
HOEKSTRA: They’re in Doha, Qatar. We don’t know what they are except they’re from the whole range of different ministries in Iraq. So, ministries of health, the military, the intelligence service, you know, you name it. We’ve got them, thirty-seven thousand boxes full.
We don’t have enough linguists to translate them. And we shouldn’t have linguists translating documents that are two, three, ten years old. They have got to be involved in today’s war.
ANGLE: Now, what do you think people would find if all of those were translated and people could just sift through them? What do you think they would find?
HOEKSTRA: What we would find is, I think, we would find and get a much better idea as to what was going on in Iraq prior to the war. That’s the whole question, you know. We had the intelligence before the war.
We had, you know, David Kay over there for what, a year? And then we had Charles Duelfer over there for a year trying to figure out what there was, but we have all these documents, the internal correspondence that deals with WMD. It deals with terrorism. It deals with all kinds of different issues.
We need that stuff translated. I want it declassified. I want it on the Internet. And I want those who speak Farsi in Baghdad, Paris and Detroit going at it.
ANGLE: You think it would give us a different picture of what was happening in Iraq than the one we now have?
HOEKSTRA: I have no idea. I don’t expect that I’ll find documents that Saddam Hussein says and gives instructions to his folks, you know, the inspectors are coming next week, let’s make sure we’re fully compliant with all the resolutions by the U.N.
But we may have—I think we’ll have a much better idea as to what the plans and intentions of Saddam were prior to the war, and what they really had.
ANGLE: Now, this debate has gone on Congress. It’s gone on in both the intelligence committees. The Senate Intelligence Committee is investigating pre-war intelligence. Your Democratic colleagues want the same thing to happen in your committee.
Jane Harmon, who is the ranking Democrat on the committee, had this to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANE HARMON (D-CA), HOUSE SELECT INTEL CMTE: We’ve also prepared a letter to the National Security adviser, Stephen Hadley, rebutting a claim that he has made that we see precisely the same intelligence that the president does.
We do not see that intelligence. I think that fact is well known. What we basically see are finished intelligence products that reflect the consensus of the community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANGLE: The consensus of the community is should members of Congress see something different than the consensus of the community?
HOEKSTRA: Absolutely. And we can’t. We get the documents. We get the consensus.
If we have more questions we can call the CIA, we can call the Defense Intelligence Agency, and say, you know, we want to peel back the layers. We have access to the analysts. We can dig further down and, not only have access to the analyst, but say what were the sources and methods that were used to give this information so that we have a better understanding.
No, we don’t get exactly what the president gets. You know, he has a presidential daily brief, but we can dig down. We can drill down when you need to.
ANGLE: You mean a member of Congress can just call up in the midst of this debate over the war, could just call up the CIA and say hey, guys, I am wondering about a particular issue. I want to ask some questions on this?
HOEKSTRA: Not every member of Congress. Every member on the Intelligence Committee can do that, and request for other members of Congress go through the Intel Committee, we decide whether we are going to give them access or not.
You know, digging down and drilling down its the job of the Intel Committee. That’s what we’re supposed to do.
ANGLE: Now, The Washington Post reported the other day that only six senators and a handful of House members took advantage of an opportunity to come over and look at the National Intelligence Estimate, the whole document, which was available to them before they voted on the war.
What do you know about that? Were people given the opportunity to see that? And did they take that opportunity?
HOEKSTRA: Members were given the opportunity. I don’t know exactly the date when they were given the opportunity to access the documents. I know who’s seen the documents, and so I know the number, but it’s classified in the committee, so I can’t share it with you.
But I think the American people would be surprised by how few people took the opportunity to actually go through the National Intelligence Estimate, and I think they’d be disappointed.
ANGLE: Are you surprised at this debate over pre-war intelligence?
HOEKSTRA: Nothing surprises me anymore, OK? I mean, it’s disappointing. I think, you know, what’s going on with the terrorists. They’re looking at us. You know, what’s our center of gravity? It’s our will to fight.
They have written to each other that they don’t think we’ve got the will to fight anymore. When they see what’s going on here now they’re starting to have doubts. They are starting to believe they’re winning.
ANGLE: All right, thanks very much Congressman Hoekstra.
Watch "Special Report With Brit Hume" weeknights at 6 p.m. EDT.
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