This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 28, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: It looks like President Obama has a brand-new headache tonight. It appears the accused terrorist who tried to blow up an airliner spent time in Yemen. Well, almost half of the 200 detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay are from Yemen, and the administration wants to send many of them back to that Middle East country. In fact, six prisoners were just given back to Yemen this month, and many say that is a really, really bad idea.
One of them is Congressman Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. He joins us now live. Congressman, thanks for your time.
REP. PETE HOEKSTRA, R - MICH., INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good to see you. Thank you, Shannon.
BREAM: I got to ask you about the relationship between our current administration, our country and Yemen. The White House says they are pressuring that country when it comes to terrorism. Do you think they're doing enough?
HOEKSTRA: Oh, I think they probably are doing enough. We need the Yemeni government to cooperate with us. But our track record over the last number of years has been very, very mixed. At the time of the explosion and the attack on the USS Cole, there were periods of time where the Yemeni government did not cooperate in the investigation. So this has been a relationship that at certain times works, you know, better than others, but it still has a long way to go before we can call them an ally in the war against radical jihadism.
BREAM: And of course, we've got the issue of some of these Yemeni detainees who are still being held at Guantanamo Bay, and the push that we now that's on to close down that particular detention facility, but can we send any of these individuals safely back to Yemen?
HOEKSTRA: I though your previous guest's description of who these people are, the kind of people that will, you know, take a suicidal action and try to take down a plane of men, women and children -- these are the kind of hardened al Qaeda individuals that we have in Gitmo, what I would describe as the worst of the worst.
We know what our experience has been with the 400 to 500 people that we've already let go out of Gitmo. It's not very good. I wish the president would release those statistics, the trends that we have seen over the last two or three years in terms of recidivism. How many of these people have found their way back onto the battlefield? And these are the people that we thought were OK to release.
Now there's talk about sending, you know, upwards of 90 people back to Yemen, into an area where, you know, I think there's a high probability they will find their way back onto the battlefield. They will again start attacking Americans and Western interests. That's why I think this is not only a bad idea, I think from a strategic standpoint, it is just a dumb idea. It just makes no sense.
BREAM: Well, you mentioned the administration being maybe more transparent with some of this information regarding people who have been released. I've also read where you've said you're frustrated to the point of anger when it comes to this administration being forthcoming with Congress and with the general public. What else do you think we need to know?
HOEKSTRA: Well, I think we need -- you know, this frustration bears out of the events of the last six or seven weeks. You know, they've -- they've stonewalled any effort to get information on Ft. Hood. We need to know who Hasan was in contact with. You know, was he -- who else was talking to in the United States, overseas? We need to know more about what's going on in Yemen. We need to know more about this American-born cleric, al Awlaki. How long have we had him in our sights? How long have we been watching him? We need to know more about the D.C. five, the five young men that, you know, went to Pakistan, have now been arrested. And we need to know more about this individual that was part of the Christmas Day attack on an airline.
You know, right now, this administration is setting a very dangerous precedent. They are flying solo on national security. It means they're not involving Congress in the policy decisions or sharing the information that is necessary to form policy positions. It's a dangerous place when the president and the executive branch fly solo on national security. Historically, that's been a bipartisan effort because it's so important to the safety of American citizens!
BREAM: And Congressman, the president finally spoke on this issue today. Did you hear enough from him in that statement? Was it good enough for you?
HOEKSTRA: I'm -- the president will always give a good speech. I'm more interested in how the administration is going to change their behavior. Are they going to be tougher on radical jihadism? Are they going to finally use the word "terrorism" and say it is a real threat, home-grown terrorism is a real threat? And then are they going to become more transparent with Congress and with the American people?
We have a right to know. It's the president's responsibility to keep Congress fully and currently informed. He's not doing that. And I think when he limits his involvement with Congress, he's going to get a foreign policy that is not going to get bipartisan support. It's not going to get congressional support, and that I think is a bad precedent. We need to come together. This is going to be a long-term threat. It's a difficult threat to deal with. We need to do it together.
BREAM: And Congressman, we know that hearings are proposed for both the House and Senate in January, when you get back, a very busy time. We know that flight 253 will be one of those topics, and maybe we'll get into some more of the questions that you have fleshed out in those particular hearings. We'll be watching. Congressman Pete Hoekstra, thank you.
HOEKSTRA: All right. That's exactly your job. Keep watching. Thank you.
BREAM: We'll do it.
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