The American People Haven't Gotten Any Answers On Torture Congressman! (Hokestra)

August 24, 2009 News Corp

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, an ugly battle just got a little bit worse today. Today, the White House released parts of a classified, now declassified, CIA report on detainee interrogation, new allegations of prisoner abuse, a detainee allegedly threatened with an unloaded gun and a power drill. The report also states that the detention and interrogation programs prevented terrorist activity.

Meanwhile, across the Potomac at the Justice Department, the attorney general launched a preliminary investigation to see if crimes were committed by interrogators. As you might imagine, lines are being drawn in the sand here in Washington.

Joining us live is Congressman Pete Hoekstra. He is the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman, this certainly is the talk of the nation today, or the talk of Washington, at least. Your thoughts on the -- it's actually sort of a -- it's a preliminary investigation to see whether or not there should be an investigation or even a prosecution.

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R), MICHIGAN: Well, I -- you know, this is really a time for the president to start showing some leadership. You know, the attorney general is now freelancing. The president for months has been saying, We need to look forward, we need to look ahead, I don't want to look back. Today there were press reports that his director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, supposedly has threatened to quit. You have Nancy Pelosi saying that the CIA lied, that they lie all the time.

And the most important thing is we still have men and women in combat. Things in Afghanistan aren't going that well. Just when we need a very, very strong CIA to give our men and women in the field the kind of intelligence that they need to stay safe and to defeat our enemy, it appears that different parts of the administration are attacking the very organization that we need to keep America safe!

These aren't new allegations. Our intelligence committee -- we had these reports in 2004, 2005. Eric Holder wants to go over old ground. This ground has been gone over before. It's not time to reopen the book on this.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me play devil's advocate with you. A strong CIA -- we want a strong CIA, but is not a strong CIA a CIA that follows the law or the policies as set by the president of United States?

HOEKSTRA: That's not a devil's advocate. I agree with you. Absolutely. That's Congress's role...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well...

HOEKSTRA: ... to define the box that the CIA has to operate within legally. And Congress has had these materials. This stuff has been reviewed by the Justice Department over the last four or five years. This ground has been gone over both by Congress and by the Justice Department.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let me have some more fun with you, then, in terms of congress, is that you're telling us to trust Congress. That's the same Congress that every town hall in the country is upset with because they think that they're getting something rammed down their throat. Why should we -- why should we trust Congress on the CIA and not trust Congress on the health care reform?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think that may be a good question. But I can tell you that -- why -- you know, why would you go back over this ground? And it wasn't just the Congress that has gone over this ground, Greta. The Justice Department has gone over this ground before. Eric Holder, you know, has been looking at this for seven or eight months. Now he's saying he's going to appoint somebody to do a preliminary investigation. All of this time, we are creating confusion and uncertainty within the intelligence community.

If Eric Holder believes that -- you know, that the Bush administration and these other folks made mistakes, you know, then go ahead, Eric, and do it. But the other thing is, Greta, what damage are we doing to the CIA right now? We have men and women...

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's what I'd like to know. I mean...

HOEKSTRA: ... on the field in Afghanistan that need good intelligence!

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm...

(CROSSTALK)

HOEKSTRA: I'm not talking about giving the CIA a pass!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I -- look, let me say that I want strong intelligence. I want our country to be safe. I want to do it right. But if there's so much mystery as to what's right, what's not right, what was done, what was not done, how does airing it -- how does that jeopardize it? Maybe there is a legitimate reason, but does airing and finally getting to the bottom of it and sort of laying out what happened and -- and was right and what was not right hurt us?

HOEKSTRA: Well, it doesn't, Greta, but how many times are you going to air it out? Like I said, this information...

VAN SUSTEREN: We didn't get it!

HOEKSTRA: ... is not...

VAN SUSTEREN: We didn't get it.

HOEKSTRA: This is not new information.

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, the Congress may have gotten it. We haven't...

HOEKSTRA: What's that?

VAN SUSTEREN: We haven't -- the American people haven't gotten it. It's -- you know, you tell me that Congress had it and it's been gone through, the Justice Department's had it and it's been gone through. I'm just telling you is that I -- you know, I get pieces of paper that are all -- in fact, look at -- I mean, this is -- this is what I get. I get -- I don't know if you can see it. I get pieces of paper that everything's blackened out. I mean, you tell me -- that looks more suspicious than anything. I got whole documents of this, of reports of this. Here, check out this report. This is more stuff that the American people get. You know, so -- here's another page right here. I'm just saying is that, like, that's another page. And so you say we've gotten it. I don't know that we have.

HOEKSTRA: Well, Greta, you can't take the work of the intelligence community and declassify all of this information. Somewhere along the line, you do have to have some respect that the people in Congress who have been given this responsibility are actually going to carry out the responsibility that they have been given. You know, these reports -- you know, if you don't trust government, you're right, then throw...

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- and I -- and Congressman, I don't mean to cut you off. I understand a lot of this stuff must remain classified. And I'm not -- I'm not a crazy person that way. Some stuff simply must be kept classified. But with so much confusion, I'm thinking that, you know -- and with people having all their imaginations running, I just think that if we could get it done and behind us, that'd be great.

HOEKSTRA: Yes, but I mean, again, Republicans and Democrats on the intelligence committees in both the House and the Senate, when they had this information in 2005, 2006, agreed that this stuff handled administratively through the CIA was the way to handle it. The Justice Department professionals who went through this...

VAN SUSTEREN: And I got to -- and I got to...

HOEKSTRA: ... said this could be handled administratively.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Congressman, you get the last word on that. Thank you, sir.

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