Rep. Hoekstra, sizing up President-elect Obama’s security team, remarked "[They] are clearly starting to recognize that reality has a way of pushing out campaign rhetoric."
He went on to suggest that Obama, who ran on a platform of change, may come to the sober conclusion that the controversial intelligence programs born of the Bush administration are best kept in place.
Hoekstra conceded that on day one President Obama could decide to "stop the terrorist surveillance program, he can stop the financial tracking program, he can close Gitmo, he can stop [...] our enhanced interrogation methods."
"I really believe," Hoekstra predicted, "that if he goes through that process and contemplates those decisions, he is going to reach the stark reality that ‘wow, these things actually work, they actually have enabled President Bush to keep America safe. That’s now my responsibility and I better be very, very careful because...I better be careful before I decide to terminate any of these programs because on noon of January 20, it’s now my responsibility and the track record is that the programs that have been in place whether rightly or wrongly have kept America’s homeland safe for seven and a half years and that’s now the track record that I have to match because there is no way you can beat zero tolerance.’ "
Additionally, CongressDaily’s Chris Strohm reported on Wednesday that Intelligence chair, Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) "recommended to Obama’s transition team that some parts of the CIA’s controversial alternative interrogation program should be allowed to continue."
Reyes said "We don't want to be known for torturing people. At the same time we don't want to limit our ability to get information that's vital and critical to our national security," he added. "That's where the new administration is going to have to decide what those parameters are, what those limitations are."Are we to now expect that every four years the world will sit in anxious anticipation while the new administration "decides" the méthodes du jour?
Remarkably, Reyes’ and Hoekstra’s statements coincide with the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Inquiry into the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody.
The report issued jointly by Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ) determined that "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of ‘a few bad apples’ acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."
The inquiry concluded that "Those efforts damaged our ability to collect accurate intelligence that could save lives, strengthened the hand of our enemies, and compromised our moral authority." A far cry from Rep. Hoekstra's claims of a safer America.
Upon being reappointed as ranking member of the Intelligence committee this week, Pete Hoekstra issued a statement stressing "Just as we did for the Bush administration, Republicans on the Intelligence Committee will conduct aggressive oversight of the Obama administration’s intelligence efforts and encourage our Democratic colleagues to do the same."
This begs the question just who will conduct aggressive oversight of them?
For more on this subject see Ray McGovern's recent article, Will Obama Buy Torture-Lite?