Commentary Magazine


Topic: Pete Hoekstra

Flotsam and Jetsam

Jamie Fly on Obama’s new expression of “deep admiration” for the Iranian protesters: “Now that the President seems so concerned about the events unfolding on Iran’s streets, perhaps someone should ask the White House whether the President believes that Sen. Kerry should even contemplate a visit to Tehran to meet with the very officials that are ordering the beatings and killings he has just condemned.  The answer might tell us how far he is really willing to go to ‘bear witness.’”

Stephen Hayes observes that Obama’s comments “fell so flat,” given the lack of any “action item” other than calling for the Iranian regime to meet its international obligations. It was a “silly statement,” he says. Charles Krauthammer adds: “Meaningless words. . . This is a hinge of history. . . This is a moment in history and he is missing it.”

It isn’t easy being a Democratic incumbent in the Obama era: “Political observers should expect more retirement announcements from centrist Democrats, according to Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), himself a centrist Democrat.”

Rep. Pete Hoekstra blasts Obama: “After eleven months in office, the president is still sending contradictory messages on national security. . . He says he wants to address the threats yet look at how he has responded to this, how he responded to Fort Hood, how he’s open to prosecuting folks in the CIA, how he’s closing Guantanamo Bay, and how he’s bringing terror suspects to New York City.”

Rory Cooper of Heritage on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attack: “The overwhelming negative opinion of the President’s reaction is a result of Obama’s reckless complacency over the past year. President Obama spent the past 12 months beating up on the men and women of the CIA, on the soldiers who ably run Gitmo, campaigning against the Patriot Act (even though he now recognizes its importance), making terrorism a law enforcement issue, announcing a show trial for KSM in NYC, and cutting defense appropriations in favor of sweetheart stimulus deals. The first thing he did with Abdulmutallab was to read him his rights.”

Only a day before Obama spinmeister Marc Ambinder was praising the “strategy” of having Obama hide after a terrorist attack. Now he muses: “Did Obama, attempting to make a clean break from the Bush years vis-a-vis communicating to the public about terrorism, put too much faith in DHS Secretary Napolitano to serve as the front-line communicator?” Really, the obsession with being “not Bush” is getting to be pathological — Bush talked to the public directly about terrorism so Obama shouldn’t? Good grief.

You want horrifying? Ann Althouse takes us through the entire Janet Napolitano interview. The full interview is actually worse than the “system worked” snippet. Okay, she’s not the real problem but she’s a horrid Homeland Security Secretary and really should go.

Marc Thiessen warns us: “Instead of looking for ways to release these dangerous men, we should be capturing and interrogating more of them for information on planned attacks. But that is something the U.S. no longer does. President Obama has shut down the CIA interrogation program that helped stop a series of planned attacks — and in the year since he took office, not one high-value terrorist has been interrogated by the CIA. . . The problem with this approach is that dead terrorists cannot tell their plans. According to ABC News, Abdulmutallab has told investigators there are ‘more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.’ Who are these terrorists? Where have they been deployed? We may not find out until it is too late because we launched a strike intended to kill the al-Qaeda leaders who could give us vital intelligence.”

Sobering: “A dangerous explosive allegedly concealed by Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear could have blown a hole in the side of his Detroit-bound aircraft if it had been detonated, according to two federal sources briefed on the investigation.”

Jamie Fly on Obama’s new expression of “deep admiration” for the Iranian protesters: “Now that the President seems so concerned about the events unfolding on Iran’s streets, perhaps someone should ask the White House whether the President believes that Sen. Kerry should even contemplate a visit to Tehran to meet with the very officials that are ordering the beatings and killings he has just condemned.  The answer might tell us how far he is really willing to go to ‘bear witness.’”

Stephen Hayes observes that Obama’s comments “fell so flat,” given the lack of any “action item” other than calling for the Iranian regime to meet its international obligations. It was a “silly statement,” he says. Charles Krauthammer adds: “Meaningless words. . . This is a hinge of history. . . This is a moment in history and he is missing it.”

It isn’t easy being a Democratic incumbent in the Obama era: “Political observers should expect more retirement announcements from centrist Democrats, according to Rep. Dan Boren (Okla.), himself a centrist Democrat.”

Rep. Pete Hoekstra blasts Obama: “After eleven months in office, the president is still sending contradictory messages on national security. . . He says he wants to address the threats yet look at how he has responded to this, how he responded to Fort Hood, how he’s open to prosecuting folks in the CIA, how he’s closing Guantanamo Bay, and how he’s bringing terror suspects to New York City.”

Rory Cooper of Heritage on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing attack: “The overwhelming negative opinion of the President’s reaction is a result of Obama’s reckless complacency over the past year. President Obama spent the past 12 months beating up on the men and women of the CIA, on the soldiers who ably run Gitmo, campaigning against the Patriot Act (even though he now recognizes its importance), making terrorism a law enforcement issue, announcing a show trial for KSM in NYC, and cutting defense appropriations in favor of sweetheart stimulus deals. The first thing he did with Abdulmutallab was to read him his rights.”

Only a day before Obama spinmeister Marc Ambinder was praising the “strategy” of having Obama hide after a terrorist attack. Now he muses: “Did Obama, attempting to make a clean break from the Bush years vis-a-vis communicating to the public about terrorism, put too much faith in DHS Secretary Napolitano to serve as the front-line communicator?” Really, the obsession with being “not Bush” is getting to be pathological — Bush talked to the public directly about terrorism so Obama shouldn’t? Good grief.

You want horrifying? Ann Althouse takes us through the entire Janet Napolitano interview. The full interview is actually worse than the “system worked” snippet. Okay, she’s not the real problem but she’s a horrid Homeland Security Secretary and really should go.

Marc Thiessen warns us: “Instead of looking for ways to release these dangerous men, we should be capturing and interrogating more of them for information on planned attacks. But that is something the U.S. no longer does. President Obama has shut down the CIA interrogation program that helped stop a series of planned attacks — and in the year since he took office, not one high-value terrorist has been interrogated by the CIA. . . The problem with this approach is that dead terrorists cannot tell their plans. According to ABC News, Abdulmutallab has told investigators there are ‘more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.’ Who are these terrorists? Where have they been deployed? We may not find out until it is too late because we launched a strike intended to kill the al-Qaeda leaders who could give us vital intelligence.”

Sobering: “A dangerous explosive allegedly concealed by Nigerian student Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in his underwear could have blown a hole in the side of his Detroit-bound aircraft if it had been detonated, according to two federal sources briefed on the investigation.”

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Obami’s Anti-Terror Policies Necessitate Stonewalling

One has to marvel at the opening graph of this Politico story:

Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.

Yes, reality is complicating the Obama administration’s war on terror policies. It must be maddening to the Obami that they are presented once again with inconvenient evidence that their insistence on emptying Guantanamo of dangerous people is mind-bogglingly inane. It is not surprising that Republicans were quick to point this out:

“Yesterday just highlights the fact that sending this many people back—or any people back—to Yemen right now is a really bad idea,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s just dumb….If you made a list of what the three dumbest countries would be to send people back to, Yemen would be on all the lists.” “I think it’s a major mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said about prisoner releases to Yemen. “I don’t think Guantanamo should be closed, but if we’re going to close it I don’t believe we should be sending people to Yemen where prisoners have managed to escape in the past….Obviously, if [Abdulmutallab] did get training and direction from Yemen, it just adds to what is already a dangerous situation.”

Moreover this suggests that together with the domestic terror attack by Major Nadal Hassan, the Obama team will be hard pressed to make the claim that its policy of moral preening — closing Guantanamo, giving up on enhanced interrogation techniques, attacking the CIA, and giving KSM a public forum — is appropriate in the midst of daily evidence that our enemies are unimpressed with such gestures and are motivated not by objections to our military tribunals or incarceration policies but rather by their battle against western civilization itself.

And the Obami’s response is predictable. King and Hoeskstra, as have many of their colleagues (e.g., Rep. Frank Wolf on Yemen releases, Sen. Pete Sessions on the Uighurs), are running into a stone wall in attempting to get basic information from an administration whose first instinct is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

 As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Perhaps if the Obami’s anti-terror policies were more in sync with public opinion and reality, they would be more forthcoming. But the public will have only one question: are we safer because of the Obama administration’s policies? So far, there is reason to think we are not.

One has to marvel at the opening graph of this Politico story:

Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.

Yes, reality is complicating the Obama administration’s war on terror policies. It must be maddening to the Obami that they are presented once again with inconvenient evidence that their insistence on emptying Guantanamo of dangerous people is mind-bogglingly inane. It is not surprising that Republicans were quick to point this out:

“Yesterday just highlights the fact that sending this many people back—or any people back—to Yemen right now is a really bad idea,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s just dumb….If you made a list of what the three dumbest countries would be to send people back to, Yemen would be on all the lists.” “I think it’s a major mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said about prisoner releases to Yemen. “I don’t think Guantanamo should be closed, but if we’re going to close it I don’t believe we should be sending people to Yemen where prisoners have managed to escape in the past….Obviously, if [Abdulmutallab] did get training and direction from Yemen, it just adds to what is already a dangerous situation.”

Moreover this suggests that together with the domestic terror attack by Major Nadal Hassan, the Obama team will be hard pressed to make the claim that its policy of moral preening — closing Guantanamo, giving up on enhanced interrogation techniques, attacking the CIA, and giving KSM a public forum — is appropriate in the midst of daily evidence that our enemies are unimpressed with such gestures and are motivated not by objections to our military tribunals or incarceration policies but rather by their battle against western civilization itself.

And the Obami’s response is predictable. King and Hoeskstra, as have many of their colleagues (e.g., Rep. Frank Wolf on Yemen releases, Sen. Pete Sessions on the Uighurs), are running into a stone wall in attempting to get basic information from an administration whose first instinct is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:

 As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

Perhaps if the Obami’s anti-terror policies were more in sync with public opinion and reality, they would be more forthcoming. But the public will have only one question: are we safer because of the Obama administration’s policies? So far, there is reason to think we are not.

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It May Matter in 2010

The decision to try KSM in a civilian court may impact the 2010 elections, Politico explains:

“The narrative is playing out against the backdrop of the Illinois senate race — for the seat President Barack Obama once held — and the tri-state region surrounding New York City, where contentious campaigns are revisiting the politics of the post-Sept. 11 era, when GOP candidates regularly forced Democrats on the defensive by framing them as soft on terror.

In the wake of the Obama administration decision to try the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court in downtown Manhattan and the announcement that the administration is considering housing additional Al Qaeda terrorists in an Illinois correctional facility, Republicans are claiming that Democrats are naively placing ideology ahead of national security and undermining the war on terrorism.

And turning up the heat, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is running for governor in Michigan, will try to bring to the House floor his Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, which seeks to “slow Obama’s ability to bring terrorists to U.S. soil by forcing state legislatures and governors to approve the transfer.”

The decision to give KSM all the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen and then potentially house him and other terrorists in the U.S. may prove to be one of those few national-security issues that vaults to the top of the list of voters’ concerns and makes a difference (as the Iraq war did in the 2006 congressional elections). Not surprisingly, with initial polling showing that the decision is exceptionally unpopular, Republicans in multiple Senate and House races are making hay of the issue.

As a smart legal guru reminds me, Senate Democrats voted yesterday to provide funding for “new military facilities in the United States, or [to] modify existing ones here, to bring Guantanamo detainees to the United States (rejecting Senator Inhofe’s amendment that would have prohibited the use of funds for this purpose).” Just 12 days ago the Senate Democrats voted on funding to bring terrorists to the U.S. for trial (rejecting Senator Graham’s amendment that would have kept them in a military commission). It will be hard for Senate Democrats in 2010 then to argue that they are not facilitators in what many regard as one of the worst national-security gambits in U.S. history. The voters will get to render their verdict.

The decision to try KSM in a civilian court may impact the 2010 elections, Politico explains:

“The narrative is playing out against the backdrop of the Illinois senate race — for the seat President Barack Obama once held — and the tri-state region surrounding New York City, where contentious campaigns are revisiting the politics of the post-Sept. 11 era, when GOP candidates regularly forced Democrats on the defensive by framing them as soft on terror.

In the wake of the Obama administration decision to try the self-described mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, in a civilian court in downtown Manhattan and the announcement that the administration is considering housing additional Al Qaeda terrorists in an Illinois correctional facility, Republicans are claiming that Democrats are naively placing ideology ahead of national security and undermining the war on terrorism.

And turning up the heat, Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), who is running for governor in Michigan, will try to bring to the House floor his Keep Terrorists Out of America Act, which seeks to “slow Obama’s ability to bring terrorists to U.S. soil by forcing state legislatures and governors to approve the transfer.”

The decision to give KSM all the constitutional rights of a U.S. citizen and then potentially house him and other terrorists in the U.S. may prove to be one of those few national-security issues that vaults to the top of the list of voters’ concerns and makes a difference (as the Iraq war did in the 2006 congressional elections). Not surprisingly, with initial polling showing that the decision is exceptionally unpopular, Republicans in multiple Senate and House races are making hay of the issue.

As a smart legal guru reminds me, Senate Democrats voted yesterday to provide funding for “new military facilities in the United States, or [to] modify existing ones here, to bring Guantanamo detainees to the United States (rejecting Senator Inhofe’s amendment that would have prohibited the use of funds for this purpose).” Just 12 days ago the Senate Democrats voted on funding to bring terrorists to the U.S. for trial (rejecting Senator Graham’s amendment that would have kept them in a military commission). It will be hard for Senate Democrats in 2010 then to argue that they are not facilitators in what many regard as one of the worst national-security gambits in U.S. history. The voters will get to render their verdict.

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