This article is based upon recently declassified documents by the National Intelligence Estimate on the status of the US “War on Terror.” GR Press reporter asks Congressman Pete Hoekstra 8 questions on a variety of topics, even though the headline focuses on Pakistan. The first two questions are focused on Pakistan, but there are no details provided nor context of recent US/Pakistan relations.
Then the questions shift to Iraq, where the Congressman is asked exclusively about al-Qaida. No data or sources are provided to support Congressman Hoekstra’s position of al-Qaida in Iraq, nor does the reporter ask if the US Occupation has contributed to anti-US sentiment.
Question number seven is specific to Afghanistan and whether or not the country is headed back being under the control of the Taliban. Again, no analysis or other perspectives are presented on the situation in Afghanistan, nor does the reporter contest the Congressman’s statement or ask for any verification of his claims.
The last question posed to Congressman Hoekstra has to do with “rating” how well the US has done in the “War on Terrorism.” Ask yourself if what Hoekstra says makes any sense and if he says anything that can be backed up with data and analysis?
Declassified findings of the National Intelligence Estimate released last week said the United States will face a “persistent and evolving” terrorist threat over the next three years.
The report said al-Qaida is regenerating key elements in remote areas of Pakistan while building its alliance with al-Qaida in Iraq.
Press reporter Ted Roelofs spoke with U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Holland, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, about these findings.
The NIE says that al-Qaida has regenerated itself in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Isn’t that a failure of the Bush administration to shut that operation down?
Obviously we are disappointed with the lack of progress that we would like to seen in Pakistan. Having a safe haven for al-Qaida is a very dangerous and disturbing development. We are limited as to what we can do in a country like Pakistan, which has been in many cases an ally in helping deal with this dangerous enemy.
Why haven’t we done more to pressure Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to deal with the tribal areas in Pakistan?
United States policy has been very, very consistent. We have done a tremendous amount to try to pressure Musharraf to do more. It’s been an ongoing effort. I have met with Musharraf. I have met with their intelligence folks. While I am disappointed with that President Musharraf has not done more, the final call as to what can and cannot be done in Pakistan is a decision that has to be made by the Pakistani government.
The report calls al-Qaida in Iraq the most “visible and capable affiliate” of al-Qaida. Given that al-Qaida in Iraq did not exist before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, what does that say about the consequence of this invasion?
It tells us that we have removed Saddam Hussein from power. Number two, it means that al-Qaida wants to engage us very aggressively and they want to make Iraq a battlefield and they have made Iraq a front in their efforts to carry radical jihadism throughout the Middle East and eventually other parts of the world.
Isn’t it a fallacy to think that we are making progress against al-Qaida if we kill a few leaders? Isn’t it an ideology we are fighting?
It’s clear that you need to be successful on a number of different fronts. One is a military front, where capturing or killing the leadership or the fighters in al-Qaida is one measurement of progress. In the long-term you need to effectively combat the ideology as well.
How do you combat the ideology?
It needs to be confronted most effectively by moderate Muslims. The West, whether it be the United States or Europe, is unlikely to have much success in reshaping radical jihadist ideology. Moderate Muslims need to be the ones that are most outspoken in regard to radical jihadism.
The report says the United States is in a “heightened” threat environment. What does that mean to you?
It doesn’t mean a whole lot to me. I work under the assumption that the United States and the West are at risk and with the knowledge and belief that al-Qaida and other radical jihadists want to attack the United States and want to attack Europe. The heightened threat level means to some there is an increase in activity that makes an attack more likely today than three or six months ago.
Do we have the resources we need to fight the growing influence of the Taliban in Afghanistan? Are you concerned the country is sliding back to the same conditions that provided refuge for Osama bin Laden before 9/11?
No. Not at all. We have been briefed pretty consistently over the last 12 to 18 months that the Taliban is not re-establishing itself in Afghanistan. I’ve met with NATO commanders in Afghanistan. It was only six months ago that there was concern the Taliban would launch a major spring or summer offensive. That has not happened.
What letter grade would you assign the U.S. response to global terrorism?
I would say a B-minus. I think the threat is so significant and so real that we have not put the focus and the attention against this threat that it needs. It’s clear that as policy makers we have done an ineffective job at communicating to the American people how significant this threat may be.