The former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said last week that there is an undercurrent of “dissent and dislike” for President Obama among the rank-and-file of the Central Intelligence Agency. This hostility, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) told HUMAN EVENTS, is the result of the continuing investigations of CIA agents regarding enhanced interrogation techniques of suspected terrorists—investigations, he emphasized, “of which the President and [U.S. Attorney General] Eric Holder should say, ‘These proceedings are closed.’”
In a wide-ranging interview from his Western Michigan home at the start of the Memorial Day weekend, Hoekstra—who served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2002-06–gave poor grades to the Obama Administration for its handling of U.S. intelligence operations
“And what’s really amazing is that all the things in the realm of intelligence that Obama badmouthed as a candidate in ’08, he has now embraced as President,” said Hoekstra, “He has been much more aggressive in the use of predator drones than the Bush Administration was. The Obama Administration has acknowledged that enhanced interrogation techniques helped get the information that led to the successful raid on bin Laden’s compound. And President Obama has never closed down the U.S. operation at Guantanamo, as Candidate Obama promised to do over and over again. Under Obama, the U.S. has continued the policy of unlimited detentions and the use of military tribunals.”
“Quite frankly, who would have thought Barack Obama would have sent an assassination team to get bin Laden?”
And what is most stunning in Obama embracing the tactics in fighting terrorism from what he so harshly criticized as a candidate, Hoekstra added, “is that he won’t now say he was wrong in the first place.”
As the most recent example of Obama reversing his ’08 positions on counter-terrorism, Hoekstra pointed to the President’s signing last week of the extension of the portions of the Patriot Act that were going to expire while he was at the meeting of G-20 leaders in Paris.
“The reason the Patriot Act has to be extended and done so in segments it has,” said the former congressman, “is that people such as Barack Obama [when he was senator from Illinois] kept warning that its enactment would lead to the curtailing of civil liberties and these were the compromises that had to be made in order to pass it.”
Hoekstra noted that, in contrast to the wartime restrictions enacted during the Civil War and World Wars I and II, “there has been no curtailing of civil liberties since the Patriot Act was passed. The Attorney General now makes it clear he would have no problem with seeing it enacted permanently. And the President obviously had to awaken while he was in Paris to sign the Patriot Act extension right after the Senate passed the extensions. Obviously, the Administration thought so much of the Act that it did not want to go for even a few minutes without the authority contained in it on the books.”
Hoekstra believes that Leon Panetta did an outstanding job as CIA director. Now the President’s nominee for secretary of defense, Panetta, according to Hoekstra “was essentially a foil between the White House and the intelligence community that very clearly does not think much of the President.
Although I have been skeptical about someone from the military overseeing the CIA because the cultures are too different, I know Gen. [David] Petraeus well from my time at the Intelligence Community and I feel he will do very well as [CIA] director.”
As much as Hoekstra feels Obama has reversed himself and embraced most of the Bush agenda in combating terror, he feels most passionately that the President’s next step must to be to put a stop to the continuing Justice Department investigations into Bush-era interrogators. Until the President and Attorney General Eric Holder do that, he said “the dissent and dislike for the President among the rank-and-file of the CIA will continue.”