Transcript: Rep. Pete Hoekstra on 'FNS'

The following is a partial transcript of the July 8, 2008, edition of "FOX News Sunday With Chris Wallace":

"FOX NEWS SUNDAY" GUEST HOST BRIT HUME: With us now for the latest on the terror threat facing the United States, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan.

Welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA: Good to be here. Thank you.

HUME: So the Al Qaeda number two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, puts out a videotape this week. It looks pretty slick. It seems pretty well produced.

And it suggests at least that he is not only alive but well, so is his movement, and that there are perhaps additional new threats against the United States. What do you say?

HOEKSTRA: I take him very seriously. I mean, what he talks about on his document is he talks about the core countries, which would be Europe and the United States. Then he calls about the outlying countries.

And what he says — you know, we're going to — he doesn't say this, but he's really talking about creating a jihadist veil between these northern African countries, the Middle East, going into Asia — you know, what they would call the caliphate.

And what they want to do is they want to move the violence from this part of the world into the core, into Europe and into the United States. I take him very, very seriously.

HUME: Well, are you more concerned today about the possible threat to the United States than you were before this tape came out, or does this tape simply reinforce what you already thought?

HOEKSTRA: I think the tape reinforces what we already thought and what we knew.

HUME: There seems to be some doubt about whether the tape is even new. Even though it refers to contemporary events, it doesn't make any specific reference to things that have recently happened. So is this just old boilerplate, in your view?

HOEKSTRA: There's not a lot a new stuff in the tape as you go through it, but it's interesting. He quotes Thomas Friedman, and I would think that that is — some of that is relatively recent.

So I wouldn't say that this is six months or nine months old. I would think that it's probably been produced in the last three months, four months.

HUME: He makes much of the need to succeed, for the terrorist organization to succeed, in Iraq, which suggests that we are at war with Al Qaeda in Iraq.

Now, how do members of Congress like yourself who might be considering urging us to get out of Iraq justify that?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think it's very hard to justify. I mean, I think that, you know, for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who believe that — or maybe even some Republicans who believe that this effort in Iraq is separate from the war with radical jihadists, I think they're going to find out that they're wrong.

You know, this is more than a bumper sticker war. This is a real threat. We need to defeat Al Qaeda where they are. And if they want to pull out of Iraq, what they need to do is they need to say, "We're going to pull out of Iraq."

Then what they have to say is they have to say whether they believe this threat is real or not. If they believe it's real, then they have to identify for the American people, "This is where we're going to engage Al Qaeda. This is where we're going to engage radical jihadists. And this is where we're going to defeat them."

If they don't believe it's a real threat, pulling out of Iraq is no big deal.

HUME: So what happens, in your view, when we get what most people expect will be kind of a mixed report from General Petraeus in September — some progress, some lack of progress, not so much by the Iraqis themselves on the political front?

What do you think will happen then in the House of Representatives?

HOEKSTRA: I think there's going to be pressure on the administration, and I think rightfully so, to take a look and assess the objectives that they have established.

I mean, one of the objectives that I think we need to go back and re-evaluate is the president continues to talk about establishing Jeffersonian democracy in Iraq.

HUME: I think he'd settle for less than that now.

HOEKSTRA: I think he would, too, and I think Congress would, saying that we need to focus on security and stability.

HUME: Right. Understood. But what do you think will happen to the — in other words, if the president wants this troop surge to continue to a certain time, General Petraeus is obviously going to ask for more time.

There are appropriations bills coming which will provide the lifeblood of money for the war. What happens to those measures?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think that there's going to be tremendous pressure on the president to stop the surge.

But I think where we need to go is we need to go and we need to have this national debate about do we believe that radical jihadists are a threat to U.S. security in the long term. And I'm not sure that we've come to a consensus on that.

HUME: Right, but will the Congress vote, in your view, to cut off money for the war?

HOEKSTRA: I don't believe that Congress will vote to cut off money for the war. And you got two wars. Which war are we talking about, the one in Iraq or the larger war?

HUME: Right. Well, obviously, nobody is going to say they're against fighting the larger war. The question is whether — the question is will they cut off money for the fighting in Iraq.

HOEKSTRA: But I'm not sure that's true, Brit. Take a look at what they've already said. You know, when you call it a bumper sticker war, you know, that says that you believe that this is a make- believe war that is manufactured for some political purpose. You would be more than willing to cut off funding for that.

Take a look at some of the stuff that's come out of the intelligence bill. I mean, you know, where they've said they've cut funding for special operations and the efforts that help us directly go after Al Qaeda and radical jihadists and said that one of our key priorities needs to be focusing intelligence community efforts on global warming.

This tells you that there are people out here that don't believe that radical jihadists are a threat regardless of what happens in London or in the U.K.

HUME: Let me turn you to the — speaking of London, that plot that was uncovered, largely foiled or largely failed.


HUME: What do you take away from that in terms of what it says about the nature of the threat not only there, but also possibly here, when you have in the midst of it all these doctors?

HOEKSTRA: Yeah. Number one, it tells you that the people that we are fighting are not just necessarily the people that are coming out of poverty, living in the slums and these types of things, that there are people, well educated people, who have bought into the jihadist methods, jihadist myth of attacking the West.

And they're willing to act on that. Not only have they bought into it and say, "Yeah, we subscribe and we support jihadism, but we're willing to act and to risk our lives and to risk our futures on this."

HUME: Do we do a better job of screening people who come here to work as doctors — something like 25 percent of our force of doctors is from outside this country.

Do we do a better job of screening those people to find out who they are and what may be motivating them than these other countries such as Britain do?

HOEKSTRA: Well, we're going to have to take a look at exactly who these guys were, when they became radicalized. Did they come over and were they directed by Al Qaida radical jihadists when they came to the U.K., or did they become radicalized after they were in the U.K.?

I think, you know, the evidence is clear that over the last decade, we have been much stricter about who we allow into the United States than what the Brits have.

The Brits really became a haven for radical jihadists, and that's part of their problem. That has never happened in the United States.

HUME: Let me turn to the issue — or something related to the issue we talked about in the first segment, and that is this CIA leak investigation which ended up prosecuting no one for the leak itself.

What is your take on all of that? What is your view of how that came out? Do you think that investigation was properly handled, that it went in the wrong directions, went in the right direction? What's your view of it?

HOEKSTRA: I think you make a very compelling case that it went in the wrong direction.

You know, Fitzgerald found out relatively early in the process that there probably was not an underlying crime, you know, that what they were — that the revealing of this name was not a covert agent, and — but pursued the investigation anyway.

I'm just surprised that this is where the Democrats want to go. Do they really want to talk about the 140 pardons, 141 pardons that Bill Clinton gave his last day in office to Mark Rich, to his half brother?

You know, you go right through that list. That's a pretty ugly list. I don't think the Democrats want to go there, but they appear to...

HUME: They're doing a pretty good job of it at the moment.

HOEKSTRA: They're doing a pretty good job, and part of it may be we're not going back and talking about exactly what Bill Clinton did.

HUME: Well, Congressman Van Hollen was pretty aggressive about that. I mean, he said, "Look, I disapproved of that and so did the leadership in the Congress, the Democratic leadership in the Congress."

So can't they easily differentiate themselves from him on this issue?

HOEKSTRA: I don't think they can. I think we'll put up the record of the president versus the record of Bill Clinton, and the president will come out relatively good on that.

I'm not sure that either one of them have used the pardons in the way that I'd like to see them being used, but the record of one to the other is pretty good.

HUME: I want to draw you out on something that has become an issue in the campaign. It came up particularly in the debate that Fox News did in questions to Senator McCain and others.

And that is this question of what the administration, CIA and people who are involved in it called enhanced interrogation techniques.

Senator McCain says — he is in a position, presumably, to know what they are. He believes they're torture. You're familiar by virtue of your — I'm not going to ask you to describe any classified information, but you know what the methods are. Do you believe they're torture?

HOEKSTRA: I don't believe they're torture, no.

HUME: And you don't believe they're torture — you must have some sense of how many captives have been affected by them, how often and how widely these techniques are used.

I'm not asking for numbers, but what can you tell us about that?

HOEKSTRA: What I can tell you is that on a bipartisan basis, the White House consistently has reached out, has briefed the leaders in the House and the Senate on exactly the number, the techniques, and the information that was gained that kept America safe in both — and members from both parties walked out of the room and supported the efforts.

HUME: Let me ask you this. Are we talking about a large number of instances in which these enhanced interrogation techniques have been used?

HOEKSTRA: I think that from my perspective, I'd say it's a very small number, but again...

HUME: A very small number.

HOEKSTRA: ... for some people, they would say one is too many and that is a huge number.

HUME: No, I understand that.


HUME: But we're not talking about hundreds here.

HOEKSTRA: I can't get into details, but I think most Americans would look at it and say that's not a very large number where these techniques have been used. And the results have been very, very positive.

HUME: I want to ask you about that a little further, because a number of people — George Tenet said it in his book; Michael Hayden, who is now in charge there at the CIA has suggested it as well — that this has proved to be the most vital source of information, these enhanced interrogation techniques used, according to you and others, on a relatively small number of captives.

Do you agree with that assessment, that it's been the most valuable?

HOEKSTRA: It has been very, very effective. It has been very, very closely monitored and managed not only by the executive branch, but with congressional oversight.

That's why the program was allowed to continue, because of how well it was managed, the limited number of times where it was used, and how effective it proved to be.

HUME: Now, let me bring you full circle here on this question of Iraq and the war on terror. Do you believe the war in Iraq is now essentially a fight — front in the fight against Al Qaida and the international terrorist operations it sponsors? Or do you believe it is really just a civil war that we're in the middle of?

HOEKSTRA: I think, clearly, Al Qaida — if you take a look at what they're saying, they're saying it is a front.

They want to beat us in Iraq just like they perceive they beat the Russians in Afghanistan, and they believe that the results will then be similar, that the U.S. will collapse, that they can then destabilize the countries in the region, the moderate Muslim countries in the region, go through northern Africa, eliminate the state of Israel and establish the caliphate.

HUME: And you believe Congress will not vote to stop this war as long as the president is in office?

HOEKSTRA: I think that it will be very, very difficult for them to stop — for those who disagree with this, for them to cut off funding for our troops in Iraq, but also to really damage the effort in this fight against radical jihadists.

HUME: Congressman Pete Hoekstra, good to see you, sir.

HOEKSTRA: Good to be here. Thank you.

HUME: Thanks for coming in.