HH: I am joined now by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas’ 4th Congressional District. You can follow him on Twitter @RepMikePompeo. He’s a member of the House Intelligence Committee, a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Pompeo, welcome back, it’s great to have you.
MP: It’s great to be on the show. Thanks, Hugh.
HH: What is your reaction to the President’s remarks tonight?
MP: Where to begin? Disappointing, dangerous, maybe are good places to start. I mean, disconnected from reality, too, right? He talked about Somalia and Yemen being successes. These are dangerous places, and even his own administration in April and May, he just doesn’t understand what victory and leading look like. He talked about ISIS not being Islamic. He talked about Syria having gotten rid of all of its chemical weapons. It’s just not true. No mention of the threat that extends beyond ISIS, whether that’s al Nusra Front or the Iranian influence. I mean, just a very narrow effort to try and recapture some political high ground with no strategic thought behind it. Incredibly disappointing. I was hoping for, I was hoping against beyond hope that he would finally step out and lead in the way an American commander-in-chief is going to have to, to destroy ISIS in a way that is required by our country.
HH: Now Congressman Pompeo, a few things. First of all, he did not mention Israel at all. This was pointed out to me by a caller. Israel’s been under attack by Islamist radicals for the last six to eight weeks. Are you surprised by that?
MP: Yes, it was a glaring omission, but it was certainly one among many, right? He didn’t talk about all of the places, right? The connectedness, you mentioned it earlier. There are deep connections where he didn’t talk about the threat that continues in Afghanistan and Pakistan as well, and we’re about to leave Afghanistan. He doesn’t understand the constant threat, because he, I think, at the end of the day, Hugh, he doesn’t recognize that the radical Islamic threat is real, the jihadist threat is real, it is global in nature, and it wants to attack America. He used the words, saying America is safer today. That’s simply not the case.
HH: He also said, “These terrorists are unique in their brutality.” You are a member of the Select Committee on Benghazi. They were very brutal in Benghazi. But I’ve been citing the massacre the Taliban conducted in Mazar i-Sharif on August 8th, 1998, where they killed between 5,000 and 6,000 people. It simply isn’t true that they’re unique in their brutality.
MP: Absolutely not true. And Hugh, your listeners should all recall what we did when we captured just one, but we finally captured one of the men who was responsible for the murder of four Americans. We did not take them to the gates of hell. We took him to a federal prison in Virginia.
MP: This is a president who has a deep, a deep unwillingness to acknowledge that we are at war, and that we have to behave in a way that acknowledges that, and prosecutes this as a war.
HH: How do you think our enemies react to a speech like this, Congressman Pompeo? If you are Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and you’re watching in Mosul tonight, and you click off after it’s been translated, what do you think?
MP: Well, I think it confirms what you probably already suspected, that the American commander-in-chief still fails to recognize your end game, your ultimate goal. You believe that your strategic freedom may be challenged in the short run, that there may be air strikes, you may have tactical issues that you’re going to have to deal with, and I’m counting on the President to follow through with some of the tactical things that he talked about. Those are good pieces of a strategic solution. But I think you hear that, and are completely convinced that you’ll be able to continue to march and continue to prosecute your war with far less resistance than the West needs to offer.
HH: Now I know you’re on House Intel, and therefore you have to be guarded, but today, the assistant secretary of Homeland Security testified before Senator McCain that social media would indicate there’s an attempt to penetrate our Southwestern border by IS-connected elements. And the President then contradicted that tonight in his remarks. What’s your understanding of the current threat, if any, on that border from IS-connected agents of influence?
MP: Well, here’s what we can say. We have an uncontrolled space. We have many Western passport holders with the capacity to get certainly into Central America, certainly into Mexico. And so without talking about any specific, particular threat stream, we have a border with relatively easy passage, and certainly uncontrolled, and so that risk from a terrorist who wants to come into our country through our Southern border is real, and something that we’ve got to find a way to control. And it’s a long term problem. I’m very critical of President Obama, but this is a problem on our border that predated his time in office as well. We’ve got to get serious about this, Hugh. There’s not only the threat to our nation’s sovereignty, but a national security risk on that border as well.
HH: Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas’ 4th Congressional District, thank you for joining us tonight.
End of interview.