Skip to comments.Duncan Hunter on New Hampshire Public Radio 7-5-07
Posted on 07/30/2007 1:39:24 PM PDT by WalterSkinner
Duncan Hunter interview with New Hampshire Public Radio on July 5, 2007
Ping for DH in NH
ping to me for later
FAIR & EQUITABLE TRADE
ECONOMY & TAXES
SAFETY & SECURITY
FAITH & VALUES
ADDITIONAL AUDIO & VIDEOS
Thanks for archiving this Walter! Good job.
LOL! His cell phone just went off and he has the same ringtone I have on mine!
OMG, Tape two is going to be heart wrenching to transcribe...
Ok, excerpts are not going to do it. I’m off to make a pot of coffee.
..and I even snipped a couple of minutes off of the beginning and end...
They did say “call in” didn’t they? Some lucky duck has the DIRECT line!
Here is the transcript of Part 1 and 2
New Hampshire Public Radio 7-5-2007
Congressman and Republican Presidential Candidate Duncan Hunter
Laura Knoy: Congressman Hunter, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
Duncan Hunter: Laura, great to be with you.
Laura Knoy: And as I said there is almost a dozen republicans running I think 10 officially and when you add Fred Thompson maybe that is 11 it is almost a dozen in my book. What makes you stand out?
Duncan Hunter: First, in the area of immigration, Ive actually done something with respect to border enforcement which is rare. Ive built that border fence in San Diego. And when I built that double fence, you know, we had the number 1 smugglers corridor in America through which most of the drugs and most of the people were smuggled into America traveled. And we built a double border fence with a road in between. In those days we had border gangs that roamed the hills with automatic weapons. They robbed the illegal aliens as they came in. They murdered an average of 10 a year. It was so bad that Joseph Wambaugh, the best selling author that wrote the Onion Field, wrote the novel Lines and Shadows about the no mans land between San Diego, CA and Mexico. We even had to have a plain clothes police force dressed like illegal aliens that would go to the border and wait to be attacked by the border gangs. So when I built that border fence we put the border gangs out of business. We reduced the smuggling of people and narcotics by 90%. I wrote the bill this last year, in October, that past the house and the Senate. President Bush signed it on October 26. It mandates the San Diego border fence be extended 854 miles across the smugglers routes of Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Now the other candidates have the right rhetoric with respect to the border. But Ive done something about it. I understand the border. I understand border enforcement. So that is an area where I have a record of accomplishment.
Now with respect to national security which is a key role for the President. Obviously the Commander In Chief role is a major dimension to the Presidency. I have been the Chairman of the Arms Services Committee in the House of Representatives for the past 4 years. I have served in Vietnam and served in uniform. I didnt do anything special. My son served 2 tours in Iraq and is now in Afghanistan as a Marine. That means I can turn to the American people in a time of crises and say we are all in this together. I have the credentials to be the Commander In Chief. That is an important dimension to the Presidency.
And finally, Im one guy, the only guy, who is not a purist free trader. I believe we need to bring back high paying manufacturing jobs to the United States. And we need to do that by holding China accountable for the cheating on trade which they are now undertaking. It has taken over a million high paying jobs, many of them from New Hampshire, over to China. So we need to have a new policy in respect to manufacturing. Bring back manufacturing jobs, those 3 million jobs we lost over the past 5 years. And with that research and development, science and engineering base, that attends the manufacturing base. So, jobs for America. Bringing back the manufacturing base, A New Policy on Trade differentiates me from the rest of the field.
Laura Knoy: Congressman Hunter, so you are saying on these key issues, National Security, Trade and Immigration, you have your experience from your long years in Congress that you would bring to the White House.
Duncan Hunter: Well experience but also a different tact. For example, on trade, Im the only guy that would hold China accountable for the cheating they are undertaking right now that is killing American jobs and American businesses around this country.
The 40% devaluation of their currency that basically means that all their products are 40% cheaper than they should be. They are underwritten by the Central Bank of China undercutting American products and sweeping our products off the shelf around the world.
Laura Knoy: I want to invite our listeners to join us, call in. I want to ask you before we go to our callers about the big news item this week. That is the commutation of the top aid Scootter Libby. What is your opinion? Mr. Libby was convicted by a jury of his peers for lying and obstructing justice. Yet he will not spend an hour in jail.
Duncan Hunter: First I would not pardon or commune the sentenced without reading the transcript. Having said that, I think there are a couple of things the American people have to know and reflect on. Most of the citizens think that Mr. Libby was sentenced for the disclosing the identity of a CIA agent. That is not true. Ultimately the prosecutor understood that Libby was not the person that disclosed the identity of the CIA agents identity. He did not prosecute him for that. You may notice that. That is not what the conviction is for. The conviction was for inconsistent statements and lying to the prosecutor.
Now I think there is something that folks have to look at here and that is this. When prosecutors get into a high profile class, in which he was going to persue people for disclosing the identity of a CIA agent under the Foreign Agents Identity Disclosure Act. That is a law we put into place to keep people from being disclosed. This is a very serious thing so he starts off on this prosecution where he is going to, by gosh, bring people to justice for that. He ends up not doing that because he didnt find a case where a person had their identity illegally disclosed, so he takes the consolation prize. The consolation prize is always perjury. It is lying to the grand jury. The point that I made the last time I was interviewed on this is this point. Tell me what you did 30 days ago. Tell me all the meetings you had 30 days ago. You probably cant tell me. So if I ask you questions for 3 or 4 hours as a cross examining attorney, I could probably bring up places where you have not given all the information about things in fact happened on particular days because you cant remember. Now Libby claims he couldnt remember these things and after they asked him many questions, they got him for inconsistent statements or lying.
I think you always have to be careful about that. But I think in terms of Obstruction Justice, which is the other consolation prize that a prosecutor goes for when he doesnt get someone for the big one. Which is what he pursued in the first place. They left Mr. Libby with $250,000 in fines and on probation. His law career is ruined he will be disbarred. He will never be able to practice law again. I think that is probably reasonable. But now my recommendation is this. I would not pardon Mr. Libby without reviewing the transcript. And I havent reviewed the transcript.
But I would say this, I did review the transcript of Agents Compean and Ramos the two border patrol agents who were given 11 and 12 years in prison. It is a greater prison sentenced than the average convicted murder in this country for the fact that they wounded a drug dealer as he was bringing 750 pounds of drugs across the border from Mexico. I have reviewed their transcripts and I think they should be fully pardoned. And my recommendation to the White House, I called them up the day after they communed Scootter Libby sentence, was that it would be good for the President on the 4th of July to fully pardon Agents Compean and Ramos. Ive met with their families; they have been rendered destitute by this prosecution. That is the most severe injustice I think Ive ever seen in terms of uniform people being punished for being too aggressive in pursuing their duties on the border of Mexico.
Laura Knoy: So what did the President say? Did you get a response?
Duncan Hunter: Well I didnt get a response from the President. I called the White House and spoke to one of his aides and told him that was my recommendation, to pardon Compean and Ramos. I think they should. I introduced a bill to pardon those two guys and 100 members of congress have cosponsored my bill to give a congressional pardon to Agents Compean and Ramos.
Laura Knoy: That is interesting that you said that because our emailer, Diane ended her email with exactly that where do you stand on Scootter Libby particularly in relation to the border agents Ramos and Compean. So it is on some peoples minds.
Duncan Hunter: And if elected President, I would pardon Compean and Ramos. I have read those transcripts. I think those sentences were extremely unjust. And Ramos has already been beaten up in prison by drug people that recognized him as a border patrol agent.
Laura Knoy: Lots to talk about Congressman. And lots of callers. Your chance to chime in this morning. Go ahead Mike, youre on the air.
Mike: Hi Congressman welcome to New Hampshire.
Duncan Hunter: Hi Mike good to talk to you.
Mike: As I listen to you speak, I most concerned about American Foreign Policy and our situation in Iraq. I know we spend as much on military as the rest of the world combined. We have 100s of bases over seas. It doesnt seem like we have learned anything from this quagmire of imposing democracy from the barrel of a gun. What would your Presidency do to move us towards diplomacy towards peaceful resolution of conflict and away from the mess we have gotten into in the Middle East.
Laura Knoy: Mike that is a great question.
Duncan Hunter: Hey thanks Mike. First with the respect to imposing democracy from the barrel of a gun, the only guns we held on the days when they had Free Election in Iraq was the Americans along with the Iraqi Police who were protecting the voting places and that included the suicide bomber that rushed in to try to blow up a bunch of voters and one of the Iraqi Policeman bear hugged him and pulled him out of the voting area and was killed with him when that guy tried to kill voters. So those people that voted in the Iraqi Elections voted in a Free and Fair Election. All the international observers agree with that.
And I would say this Mike, over the last 60 years, we have brought freedom to large parts of the world. For example in WW2, after the war with Japan, we gave them a constitution while we were occupying Japan. We taught them to have free and fair elections. Today they have a democracy in Japan. In South Korea, we did the same thing. In El Salvador, and you know I was in Congress during the Contra Wars in South America. El Salvador which was once run by a military dictatorship was protected by Ronald Reagan while they stood up a free democracy, a free voting system. In which a person both liberals and conservtives both agree was a great leader, Jose Duarte was elected in a free and fair election while Ronald Reagan held that shield of military protection around that fragile government. I saw left wingers protesting in the streets. That was going to be our next Vietnam according to them. You know I think we have liberals that die of old age waiting for our next Vietnam. And yet, the President persisted, and we have a free El Salvador today. And people vote for their leadership. And we brought down the Berlin wall and now you have all those former captive nations that were under the Tierney of the Soviet Union.
This country have freed 100s of millions of people since WW2. And sometimes you have to be strong to free them. It wasnt peace marches that brought down the Soviet Union. It was Ronald Reagans military strength of the Soviet Union. And when they tried to match us military equipment for military equipment they realized they couldnt. They picked up the phone and said lets talk. And when we talked, it brought down that massive empire that oppressed 100s of millions of people and you have free nations today. You ask people in Poland, who brought them freedom. It is the United States. Now lets go to Iraq.
Laura Knoy: The question people are asking, how long? Matter of fact Ron Paul who also is running for the Presidential nomination, when he said, this war was ill advised, how do we preemptive war poor strategy, there was a fair amount of cheering in the audience. So, Congressman Hunter, even Republicans are saying how long can we stay in there and do this?
Duncan Hunter: Well, actually I was in those debates and I didnt see any cheering in the audience, maybe I missed it, but I didnt see any cheering when Ron Paul implied that it was our fault when we were struck on 9/11. Let me say this, I have a picture in my desk drawer. It is a picture of a bunch of Kurdish mothers laying dead on a hillside in Northern Iraq, holding their babies killed in mid stride by poison gas that was dropped by Saddam Husseins leader of the Poison Gas Campaign, Chemical Ali. It killed thousands of people mid stride. Ive seen the pictures of people being excavated from those mass graves where they were bulldozed into graves. Again mothers with 45 slugs in the backs of their heads and slugs in the back of their little babies heads also who were executed along with their mothers. That is a regime that we displaced. Now my son has served two tours in Iraq as a Marine. I understand how tough it is for folks to wait on the tarmac for their kids to come home. That is tough. War is always tough. And Ive not been one of the people saying this is going to be easy. Occupation is tough on two parties, the occupied nation and the occupying nation. And what America sees today is wall to wall car wrecks on television. If it bleeds, it leads. So a burning HumVee is much more news worthy than an American GIs giving inoculations to kids or building schools. So that is what is shown the American people.
But I would say this. We are standing up Iraqi military. So the question is how long. The Iraqi Army consists of 129 battalions. We need to make sure that every one of those battalions of the Iraqi Army gets a 3 or 4 month combat tour in Anbar Province, Baghdad or Sunni Triangle. A top area where they have to exercise their change of command, their discipline, their leadership and prove themselves. When they are battle hardened, we need to rotate them into the battlefield and then rotate out American heavy combat forces. That is the right way to hand off the security burden to the Iraqi Army. And here is my difference with a lot of folks that have called in. I think the Iraqi government which was freely elected will hold. I think if you have an election tomorrow, you will have the same incumbents. And I think the Iraqi Army will hold. So I think we will ultimately be successful in Iraq. That will mean having a country in that strategic location which will not be a state sponsor of terrorism for the next 5 to 10 to 20 years and will be a friend to the United States will be a good thing for American Foreign Policty.
Laura Knoy: Congressman, you said the Iraqi battalions have to prove themselves, they have to be ready. Yet you hear form the public we have been hearing that for a long time. How long do we wait for these Iraqi units will be ready? Some democrats say as long as we are there, we are holding their hands.
Duncan Hunter: Well here is the deal. It is kinda like teaching someone to ride a bicycle. The question is when do you let go of the bicycle. The Iraqi battalions that are in Baghdad right now which is a major operation we have got 10 Iraqi brigades there we have roughly 30 to 40 battalions that are rotating in and out the additional 3 brigades were sent in there. A lot of the Iraqi battalions now have seen a lot of combat. Some have become very proficient. Some from the quieter areas, havent seen much. And my urging is to get them all a battlefield tour of at least 3 to 4 months. And when they have that and we rotate them into the battlefield and the American heavy units can come out and can be moved to other places in central command or come back to the United States.
The point is this shouldnt not be a function of a political decision that everybody leave now. And I know it is tough. I know a lot of people say we should have keep Saddam Husseins Army in place. Saddam Husseins Army had 1100 Sunni Generals. It would have been a big mess right now. We had to build this army from scratch. Building an army from scratch aint easy.
Parts 3, 4 and 5 tomorrow.
That was a joke that was made during the interview. I did omit it so not to confuse readers. I am so glad we share the same taste in ringtones :)
..great work, as usual...
Duncan Hunter: So the answer to folks that say well how long, we have got a lot of the Iraqi Battalions now have extensive battlefield experience and we still have some work to do. And a lot of it depends again on the intensity of the opposition from the opponents of the Iraqi forces. But again I think the government will hold. I think the Army will hold. And I think we will be able to start rotating out soon.
Laura Knoy: Lets take another call. This is Erin from Hanover. Hi Erin, you are on The Exchange with Congressman Duncan Hunter.
Erin: Yes, it is my understanding that we went to war with Iraq to find Weapons of Mass Destruction, win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people and establish a model democracy. This cost billions of dollars and Im curious what you would do differently from the President and if you can comment on how well the President did with this job.
Duncan Hunter: Thanks for the question. First, I think the job is a long hard difficult road and as I said, there is no smooth road to occupation. So the implication that somehow that we made these terrible decisions that we should have let Saddam Husseins army stay in place, I think that would have been a mess, or the idea that we should have stuffed more Americans in there earlier, I think that would not have necessarily been good. There would have given more targets and that certainly doesnt give an Iraqi face to the security apparatus. Occupations are a tough, long difficult road. I think it is worth while, I think we have done a fairly good job to this point, and I think we are close to having success here.
Laura Knoy: To his question, what would you do differently?
Duncan Hunter: Well, here is what I would do differently. Here was my recommendation to the White House. That we take all the Iraqi Battalions, even in the quiet areas, and in about half of the Provences of the 18 Provences there about fewer than one or two attacks a day. They are very quiet. You have Iraqi Battalions there that have not been moved into combat rotations. Move those guys into combat rotations. Get them to prove up and be battle hardened so they can be an affective part of the Iraqi Army. That speeds up the hand off of the security responsibilities in Iraq. That is what I would do. I would excellerate that stand up of the Iraqi battalions in the quiet benign Provences of Iraq and get that done quicker.
Laura Knoy: And Congressman, I just want to go back just briefly to one more question about Iraq. And that is, when you talk about it, you use the word occupation a lot. That seems to be a word that has negative connotation. That some people dont want to use. No we are not occupying Iraq we are helping the Iraqi government stand on its own.
Duncan Hunter: Well I use it because its an accurate description of what we are doing. I think the American people are smart enough that we can just talk straight to each other. And sure its an occupation. Whenever you have the 82nd Airborne, the 1st Infantry Division, the 3rd Infantry Division, and the 2nd Marine Division, in a nation in a strategic or a tactical posture and they are undergoing battlefield operations everyday, that is an occupation. Of course it is. That comes from the administration too. They refer to it as an occupation. And it is an occupation. But occupations are good. I mean occupations, we occupied Japan after WW2 because we realized it was important to have a friend on that side of the Pacific. You know what is great? When we took Japan after we dropped the Atom Bomb, the Japanese warloads warned the people that we would be as brutal to them as they have been to other people. You know they killed 100,000 people when they took NanKing China in 1 night. Americans GIs walked down the streets of Tokyo passing out Hershey Bars and there were very few instances of violence against civilians. Americans were very good in that instance. And you know, we gave Japan a constitution. MacCarther taught them to have a democratic country. Today, they are a democracy. They are a free country. That is in our interest. They are also a strong economy. We gave them a lot of jobs after WW2. We stood them up. We helped them up. We helped up Europe. We gave freedom to countries like El Salvador. We gave freedom to South Korea. We protected them. We occupied South Korea. We occupied Japan. Today they are good friends of the United States. So why is it bad to occupy a country if you bring them freedom and then, the most important thing, then you leave. Americans will leave Iraq.
Laura Knoy: With Japan for example, you have a very homogeneous country. They have always been a country in of itself. With Iraq, Congressman, you know this better than I do, you have a country that was mushed together by the British
Duncan Hunter: Artificial boundaries.
Laura Knoy: Artificial Boundaries, during the colonial era. You got three groups of people that dont like each other very much. So its kinda different than the Japanese example.
Duncan Hunter: You have given a good reason for the West, United States, to never undertake a freedom initiative in the Middle East. The easiest thing to say in the Middle East is its a mess. It is always going to be a mess. There is nothing we can do about it. Lets stay away from it. We learned after 9/11, that if we dont change the World, the World is going to change us. This will be the only initiative for Freedom. I think everybody agrees, if the United States cant do it there is no other nation in the world that can do it.
We have had those glimmers of hope. We had the free election where people held their fingers up in the air with the purple ink on it showing that they had voted. And interestingly, the Iraqi people take to voting. They take to politics. We have a chance to make this work.
So, just as any nation is different you can say El Salvador is different too. It has a different make up, different borders, and different demographics than Japan did. South Korea is different, it was split off from the North so it is half a country, right? On the other hand, they now have freedom. Every country is different. We have a chance to make this work. If we can have a friend, not an enemy in Iraq, a country that will not be a state sponsor of terrorism with those massive resources, and a country that has a modicum of freedom for people. And you saw this Laura, when we had those first elections all of a sudden you saw the people in Lebanon pushing back against the Syrian occupiers. Then you had Egypt announcing it would have its first elections in many years, remember that? Multiparty elections. So you had a little ripple that went throughout the Middle East for freedom. After they saw the Iraqi example.
Now people say, that is faded now. Syria has its iron fist back around Lebanon. And Egyptians are still clamping down, well that is true. But United States never stops trying. And I think we have a good opportunity to make this work. So lets do everything we can to make this work rather than come up with 85 reasons why it probably wont work and we should all come home and be fortress American.
Laura Knoy: Well Congressman, we could spend hours and hours on this subject. I would love to ask you follow up questions. But lets go to our phones.
Part 4 later ..