Rep. Pete Hoekstra Details His Breakthrough WMD Report

This is a partial transcript of "The Big Story With John Gibson," June 22, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.


DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: They are weapons of mass destruction. They're — they're harmful to human beings. And — and they have been found. And they had not been reported by Saddam Hussein, as he inaccurately alleged that he had reported all of his weapons. And they are still being found and discovered.


JOHN GIBSON, HOST: A breakthrough report says coalition forces have found chemical weapons in Iraq. That would mean Saddam Hussein lied. He did have weapons of mass destruction, at least 500 of them, according to Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra.

Congressman Hoekstra is the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and he joins us now.

Congressman, thanks.

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R-MICH.: Hey, thank you.

GIBSON: I'm really confused about this. You had to pry this information out of the Department of Defense, evidently, and they're in the business of trying to convince us that Saddam did have WMD. So why was it like pulling teeth?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I'm not sure of that. That's one of those questions. Obviously, what is happening here, John, is that they see that WMD is a threat to our front-line troops.

So perhaps the answer to that question is buried in, we need to make sure we get a hold of all of these weapons. We have found 500, and we need to get a hold of all the other ones that we think may still be in Iraq because they do pose a threat to our front-line troops.

GIBSON: You know, the 500, were they all found together in one cache, one pile, or is this here and there?

HOEKSTRA: My understanding is that they were found in numerous different sites in various parts of Iraq.

GIBSON: Is 500 a lot? I mean, if the president said Iraq has WMD, is 500 enough to make that argument?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think you have got to put this in context of everything else that we knew that was going on in Iraq. We knew Saddam had weapons of mass destruction at one time because he used them and killed thousands of his own people and thousands of Iranians.

The Duelfer report from the Iraqi Survey Group, they said that there were obviously weapons programs in development, including anthrax in dual-use facilities that could start producing chemical weapons within six months after sanctions were lifted. This is just one more piece in a very complicated puzzle of a very, very notorious and evil regime.

GIBSON: If these are pre-'91 weapons, do they qualify as Saddam having current weapons that posed some kind of threat?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think the secretary of defense said it very, very well. These weapons continue to pose a threat to our troops. They continue to pose a threat to the people in Iraq. And, perhaps, if these weapons were ever transported somewhere else, they would pose a threat to citizens of other countries.

These materials are still very, very deadly. It doesn't matter when they were manufactured, if they were manufactured in '88 or whether they were manufactured in '98 or 2002. They were still in Iraq, and they still have the capability today of killing people.

GIBSON: What do you think of the laughter coming from the left about this? I mean, just this kind of rejection of these as any sort of validation as a reason to go to war?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think — I'm not going to respond to the left. I mean, first, they said there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, you've got a lot of Democrats on the record saying, you know, very forcefully, there were weapons and this is why we need to go and get rid of Saddam Hussein. The Duelfer report came out, and they said, wow, see, there were no weapons of mass destruction. And now that we have found quantities — but I think the other thing that is implied here, John, is that Secretary Rumsfeld has also said there are many, many more WMD in Iraq. We don't know how many more there are. It is not a WMD-free zone.

GIBSON: Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

HOEKSTRA: Hey, great. Thank you.

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