The Exchange; Interview with Duncan Hunter
From New Hampshire Public Radio I'm Laura ekonomi and this is the exchange.
This year's field of Republican presidential candidates is the most crowded in recent memory. Almost a dozen men are running and each is struggling to distinguish himself from the others toward that effort. Our guest today California Congressman Duncan Hunter is telling GOP conservatives that he's their guy.
If you give me your vote helped me get the nomination and help me get into the White House let me tell you what I've got to do for America. I'll build the border fence in six months. That's all 854 miles. I'll continue the fight against global terror. I will rebuild national defense. I'll protect the Second Amendment. I'll appoint originalist judges and give you the kind of conservative leadership that you expect in the White House as a member of Congress.
Hunter has earned an almost perfect score from the American Conservative Union on defense. He's a strong supporter of continued U.S. involvement in Iraq on immigration. He's strongly opposed to any immigration bill that smells like amnesty for those here illegally. And on the social issues abortion gay marriage gun control. Duncan Hunter is right where conservatives would want him to be but the congressman from the Golden State is not the only president a candidate vying for the conservative crown. Other contenders are promoting their credentials as well. So to make himself more of a household name Hunter has been taking advantage of this Fourth of July week here in the Granite State attending celebrations and parades eating at cookouts and shaking lots of hands. Congressman Duncan Hunter is our guest today on the exchange and we'll get his position on some of the races key issues and some personal biography of him as well. We want you in our conversation of course call in 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 1 800 8 9 2 and HPR and Congressman Hunter Good to see you.
Thanks for coming in Laura. Great to be with you. And as I said there's almost a dozen Republicans running I think 10 officially And when you add Fred Thompson maybe that's a level that's almost a dozen in my book. What makes you stand out Congressman Hunter.
Well you know I stand first. I live in the area of immigration. I've actually done something with respect to border enforcement which is rare. I built that border fence in San Diego. And when I built that double fence you know we had the number one smuggler's corridor in America through which most of the drugs and most of the people who were smuggled into America traveled and we built the double border fence with a road in between. In those days we had border gangs which roamed the hills. Some of them with automatic weapons. They robbed the illegal aliens when they came in they murdered an average of 10 a year and it was so bad that Joseph Wambaugh the best selling author who wrote The Onion Field wrote the novel lines and shadows about the no man's land between San Diego California and Tijuana Mexico and the fact that we even had to have a plainclothes police force that dressed like illegal aliens who would go to the border and wait to be attacked by the border gangs. So when I built that double fence we put the border gangs out of business. We reduced the smuggling of people in narcotics by more than 90 percent. And I wrote the bill this last year in October that passed the House passed the Senate overwhelmingly by a vote of 80 to 19. And President Bush signed on October 26 which mandates that the San Diego border fence be extended 854 miles across the smugglers routes of Arizona New Mexico and Texas. Now the other candidates have all got the right rhetoric with respect to the border. But I've done something about it. I understand the border I understand border enforcement. So that's an area I think where I have a record of accomplishment. Now with respect to national security which is a key role for the president obviously his commander in chief role is a major dimension to the presidency. I've been the chairman of the Armed Services Committee of the House of Representatives for the last four years. I served in Vietnam and served in uniform and I didn't do anything special but I think that the fact that I served my son served two tours in Iraq and is now in Afghanistan as a Marine. That means that I can turn to the American people in a time of crises and say you know we're all in this together. I've got the credentials to be the commander in chief. I think that's an important dimension to the presidency. And finally I'm one guy in the Republican field the only guy who is not a purist free trader. I believe that 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 that they are now undertaking which has taken over a million American high paying jobs. Many of them from New Hampshire over to China. So we need to have a new policy with respect to manufacturing bring back manufacturing jobs those three million jobs we've lost over the last five years. And with that the research and development science and engineering base that attends a manufacturing base so jobs for America bringing back the manufacturing base a new policy on trade. Differentiate me from the rest of the field.
Congressman Hunter So you're saying on these key issues national security trade and immigration you've got the experience from your long years in Congress that you would bring to the White House what distinguished the experience but also a different tack for example on trade.
I'm the only guy who is who would hold China accountable for the cheating that they're undertaking right now that's killing American jobs and American businesses around this country. The 40 percent devaluation of their currency that basically means all their products are 40 percent cheaper than they should be being underwritten by the Central Bank of China undercutting American products and sweeping our products off the shelf around the world.
In the end there was a phone call coming in right now probably somebody complaining about trade from China will not learn at all.
Speaking of calls I want to invite our listeners to join us 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 is the exchange number today in the exchange. Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter a Vietnam veteran a California congressman since 1981. Today in exchange we're talking about the major issues with Congressman Hunter. And we're hearing from you. 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 OK.
My cell phone is off now. One it had to be yours if you want to talk to Congressman Hunter you got to call that 800 number one. I think I might call you on the cell phone. That's the deal. You said it all.
Well I want to ask you Congressman before we go to our callers about a big news item this week and that is the commutation of the sentence A former top aide to the vice president Scooter Libby we actually had an e-mail about this this morning. Dianne in Intervale New Hampshire says What is your opinion Congressman of the recent commutation of the sentence of Lewis Scooter Libby. She says Mr. Libby was convicted by a jury of his peers of lying to a grand jury and the FBI and obstruction of justice. Yes. He will not spend an hour in jail. Where do you stand Diane wants to know.
Yeah well first I would not pardon Mr. Libby myself or commute his sentence without reading the transcript. I think any chief executive has to do that. Having said that I think there's a couple things that the American people need to need to know and reflect on because most Americans think that Mr. Libby was sentenced for disclosing the identity of a CIA agent Valerie Plame. That's not true. He ultimately the prosecutor understood that actually Libby was not the person who disclosed the CIA agent's identity and did not prosecute him for that. You may notice that that's not the conviction the conviction was for inconsistent statements and lying to the prosecutor. Now I think there's something that that that folks have to look at here and that's this. When a prosecutor is given a high profile case in which he was going to pursue people for disclosing the identity of a CIA agent under the foreign agents identity Disclosure Act that is a law that we put in place to keep people from being disclosed which is a very serious thing. And so he starts off on this prosecution where he's going to by gosh bring people to justice for that. He ends up not doing that because he didn't find a case where a person had illegally had their identity disclosed. And so he takes the consolation prize and the consolation prize is always perjury it's always lying to the grand jury. Now the one point that I made to the last time I was interviewed on this is this point. Tell me what you did this is July 5th. Tell me all the meetings you had on June 5th 30 days ago. You probably can't tell me.
And so if I ask you questions for three or four hours as a cross-examining attorney I can probably bring up places where you have not given all the information about things that in fact happened on particular days because you can't remember now Libby claims that he couldn't remember these things and after they've asked him many questions they got him for inconsistent statements or line. I think you always have to be careful about that. But I think in terms of of making obstructing justice which is the other the other consolation prize that that a a prosecutor goes for when he doesn't get somebody for the big one which is what he pursued in the first place. They left that left Mr. Libby with $250000 in fines and and on probation in his law career is ruined he'll be disbarred. He will never be able to practice law again for the rest of his life.
I think that's probably reasonable. But now my recommendation was say you may have watched the debate here in New Hampshire I should say. I would not pardon Mr. Libby without revealing the transcript and I haven't reviewed the transcript but I would say this I did review the transcript of agents Campian and Ramos the two Border Patrol agents who were given 11 and 12 years in prison which is a greater prison sentence than the average convicted murderer in this country for the fact that they wounded a drug dealer as he was bringing seven hundred and fifty 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 pardon Scooter Libby or to commute commuted Scooter Libby's sentence was it it would be good for the president on the 4th of July to fully pardon agents Campian and Ramos. I've met with their families. They've been rendered destitute by this prosecution. That's the most severe injustice I think I've ever seen in terms of uniformed people being punished for being too aggressive in pursuing their duties on the border with Mexico.
So what did the president say did you get it.
Well I didn't I didn't get a response back from the president. I called the White House. I talked to two one of the presidential aides and told him that was my recommendation to to pardon Compean and Ramos. And I think they should and I've introduced a bill to pardon those two guys and a hundred members of Congress have co-sponsored my bill to give a congressional pardon to agents Campian and Ramos.
Well it's interesting that you mentioned that because our e-mailer Diane ended her e-mail by saying exactly that where do you stand on Scooter Libby particularly in relation to the sentences of border agents Ramos and Compean and so on people's minds and if elected president.
And I've said this in the presidential debates. I would pardon Compean and Ramos. I have read those transcripts. I think that their sentences were extremely unjust. And you know Ramos has already been beaten up in prison by by drug people who recognized him as a Border Patrol agent.
Lots to talk about congressmen and lots of callers already on our phone not on your cell phone. Again next jobs 1 8 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 it's your chance this morning to chime in with Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter his first time on the exchange. And we're talking about some of the major issues in this Republican presidential primary. And Congressman Hunter let's go to Hillsboro first where Mike is on the air. Go ahead Mike you're on the air Welcome.
Hi. Hi Congressman welcome to New Hampshire. It's good to talk to you. Hey Mike good to talk to you. OK.
As I listen to you speak I'm mostly concerned about American foreign policy and our situation in Iraq. And I know that we spend as much on military as the rest of the world combined. We have hundreds of bases overseas. It doesn't seem like we have learned anything from this quagmire about imposing democracy down the barrel of a gun. What would your presidency do to move us towards diplomacy towards a peaceful resolution of conflict and away from the mess that we've gotten yourself into in the Middle East.
Mike it's a great question. Thanks for calling.
Hey thanks bye. First it with respect to imposing democracy down the barrel of a gun the only guns that we held on the days when they had a 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 and tried to blow up a bunch of voters. And one of the Iraqi policemen bear hugged him and pulled him out of the voting area and was killed with him when he when a guy tried to kill voters. So those people that voted in the Iraqi election voted in a free and fair election in all the international observers agree with that. And I would say this Mike over the last 60 years we've brought freedom to large parts of the world for example in World War Two after after the war with Japan. We gave them a constitution while we were occupying Japan we 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 El Shah I was in Congress during the contra wars in South America El Salvador which was once run by a military dictatorship was was protected by Ronald Reagan while they stood up a free democracy a free voting system in which a person that liberals and conservatives agree was a great leader Jose to work day 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've got 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 and people vote for their leadership. And so I would say and we brought down the Berlin Wall and now you have all those former captive nations who were under the tyranny of the Soviet Union. This country has freed hundreds of millions of people since World War II and unfortunately sometimes you have to be strong to free them. You know it wasn't peace marches that brought down the Soviet Union it was Ronald Reagan standing up to the military strength of the Soviet Union. And when they tried to match us military equipment for military equipment they realized they couldn't and they picked up the phone and they said let's talk and when we talk we brought down that massive empire that oppressed hundreds of millions of people and you have free nations today you ask. You ask people in Poland who brought them freedom and they'll tell you one thing the United States of America.
Now now let's go to work we've got to go to every question that people are asking. You heard this in the Republican debate as well as a Democratic. Is long how long how long. And in fact Ron Paul who's also running for the Republican presidential nomination when he said look this war is was ill advised and how do we preemptive diplomacy is a poor strategy excuse me preemptive war. There is a fair amount of cheering in the audience so I think Congressman Hunter even Republicans are saying how long can we stay in there and do this.
Well actually I was in those debates and I didn't see any cheering in the audience. Maybe I missed it but I didn't see any cheering and then when Ron Paul implied that it was our fault that we were struck on 9/11. Let me let me say this. I've got a picture in my desk drawer. It's a picture of a bunch of Kurdish mothers lying dead on a hillside in northern Iraq holding their babies killed in mid-stride by poison gas that was dropped by Saddam Hussein's leader of the poison gas campaign chemical Ali that killed thousands of people in mid-stride. I've seen the pictures of people being excavated from those mass graves where they were bulldozed into graves where you again had mothers with 45 slugs in the backs of their heads and little little slugs in the backs of the little babies heads also who were executed along with their mothers. That is a regime that we displaced now. You know my son has served two tours in Iraq as a U.S. Marine and I understand how tough it is for folks to wait on the tarmac for their kids to come home. That's tough. War is always tough. And I'm not been one of the people who was sighted who's been with the administration saying this is going to be easy. We're going to be embraced and it'll all be over shortly and there's just a few of them left. Occupation is tough on two parties the occupied nation and the occupied nation and what America sees today is wall to wall car wrecks on television. If it bleeds it leads. So a burning Humvee is is much more newsworthy for example in American guys given inoculations to kids or building schools. So that's what is shown the American people. But I would say this. We're standing up the Iraqi military. So the question is how long. We're standing up the Iraqi military the Iraqi army consists of 129 battalions. We need to make sure that every one of those battalions of the Iraqi army gets a three or four month combat tour in Anbar Province or Baghdad or the Sunni Triangle in a tough area where they have to exercise your chain of command their discipline their leadership has to prove itself. And when they are battle hardened we need to rotate them into the battlefield and rotate out American heavy combat forces. That's the right way to hand off this security burden to the Iraqi army. Now here and here's my difference with a lot of folks that have called in. I think that the Iraqi government which is freely elected we all admit that will hold. I think if you have an election tomorrow you'll have the same incumbents probably winning their seats back. And I think that the Iraqi army will hold. So I think we will ultimately be successful in Iraq and that will be having a country in that strategic location which we will not be a state sponsor of terrorism for the next five to 10 to 20 years and will be a friend of the United States will it will be a good thing for American foreign policy.
Congressman you said that the Iraqi battalions have to prove themselves once they are ready and a number of them are. And yet you hear from the public. OK we've been saying that for a long time.
How long do we wait for these Iraqi units to be ready. Why aren't they ready now. You know some Democrats say the only time that Iraqis are going to stand up on their own feet and sort things out is for us to leave that as long as we're there we're kind of holding their hands and they're not going to do it themselves.
Well well here's the deal. I guess it's kind of like riding a bicycle The question is when do you let go of the bicycle seat when you're teaching somebody to ride the bicycle. The Iraqi battalions that are in Baghdad right now which is a major operation we've got undertaken. We've got 10 10 Iraqi brigades there. We've got roughly in that area roughly 35 to 40 Iraqi battalions. They are rotating in and out. The additional three brigades were sent in there and a lot of the Iraqi battalions. Now I've seen a lot of combat and are and are becoming very proficient. Some of them from the quieter areas haven't seen much. And my urging to the administration is to get them all a battlefield tour of at least three to four months when they have that and we rotate them into the battlefield the American heavy units can come out and they can move to other places in Central Command or come back to the United States. But the point is this should not be a function of a political decision to everybody leave now. And I know it's tough and I know a lot of people have said we should have had Saddam Hussein's army and kept it in place. Saddam Hussein's army had 11000 Sunni generals. Now what are you going to do with an army with 11000 Sunni generals. It would have been a big mess right. In a country where Shiites dumb and precisely they said we had to build this army from scratch building an army from scratch is not easy. So the answer to folks who say well how long we've got. We've had a lot of the Iraqi battalions. Now I've had 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 from the opponents of the Iraqi forces. But again I think the I think the government will hold. I think the army will hold and I think we'll be able to start rotating out soon.
Let's take another call this is Aaron from Hanover. Hi Aaron you're on the Exchange with that Congressman Duncan Hunter go ahead.
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 that a model democracy that costs our children a billion dollars. And I'm curious what you would do differently from the president. And if you could comment about how well the president did in his job.
Excellent question. Congressman just a reminder we got to break. Coming up we should ask you sure Wolf.
Well thanks for that. Thanks for the question. First I think I think that the I think the job is a long hard difficult road. And as I said there is no smooth road documentation so the implication that somehow that we made these terrible decisions we should have had to let Saddam Hussein's army stay in place. I think that would have been a mess. The idea that we should have stuffed more Americans in there earlier. I think that would not have necessarily been good. There would have been more targets and that certainly doesn't give an Iraqi face to the security apparatus occupations. It's a tough long difficult road. I think it's worthwhile I think we've done a fairly good job to this point. And I think we're close to having success here. QUESTION What would you do differently. Here's what I would do differently here. It 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 of the provinces of the 18 provinces in Iraq. There are fewer than one or two attacks a day. They're 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 effective part of the Iraqi army that speeds up the handoff of the security responsibilities in Iraq. That's what I would do. I would accelerate that that stand up of the Iraqi battalions in the quiet benign provinces of Iraq and get that done quicker. All right.
Congressman Hunter we will take more calls after a short break. Again the number for you to join us 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 1 800 892 and HPR. You're listening to the exchange on New Hampshire Public Radio.
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This is the exchange I'm Laura Conaway. Tomorrow the exchange will review this season's batch of summer movies. Find out more at our Web site and HPR dot org send us your favorites there too. And HPR dot org is the web address. Join us tomorrow morning live at 9:00. Today the exchange we're talking to Congressman and presidential candidate Duncan Hunter he's a longtime representative from California. And Congressman I want to go back just very briefly to one more question about Iraq and that is when you talked about it you used the word occupation a lot. Now that seems to be a word that has some negative connotation that some people don't want to use. No we're not occupying Iraq we're helping the Iraqi government stand on its own. Why do you use that word occupation.
Well I use it because it's an accurate description of what we're doing. I don't think the American people are smart enough that we can just talk straight to each other. And it obvious. Sure it's an occupation. Anytime you have a you have the eighty second Airborne and the and the 1st Infantry Division and the 3rd Infantry Division and the 2nd Marine Division in a nation in a. And they are in a strategic or a tactical posture and they're undergoing battlefield operations every day. That's an occupation of course it is. But I know that that comes from the administration to refer to it as an occupation or it is an occupation and but occupations are good. I mean occupations we occupied Japan after World War II because we realized it was important to have a friend on that side of the Pacific. And you know what's great when when Americans occupied Japan when we took Japan after we dropped the atom bomb the Japanese warlords warned the people that we would be as brutal to them as they'd been to other people you know they killed a hundred thousand people and they took Nanking China in one night. American GI's walked down the streets of Tokyo passing out Hershey bars and there were they were very very few instances of violence against civilians. Americans were very good in that instance. And you know we gave Japan a constitution. MacArthur taught them to have a democratic country. Today they're a democracy. They are a free country. That's in our interest are also a strong economy we gave them a lot of jobs after World War II. We stood them up we helped them up we helped up Europe. We gave free freedom to countries like El Salvador we gave freedom to South Korea and we protected them so we you know we occupied South Korea we occupied Japan today they're good friends of the United States jump in here on that.
So why is it that we are bad to occupy a country if you bring in freedom and then the most important thing is then you leave the Americans will leave Iraq well and me time when we'll leave but we don't want to stay there.
Japan for example you've got a very him age in this country that has always been a country in and of itself with Iraq. Congressman you know this better than I do. You've got a country that was kind of mushed together by the British after artificial boundaries artificial boundaries during the colonial era. You got three groups of people who really don't like each other very much. So it's kind of different than the Japanese example.
So you've given a good reason for for the West and the United States to never undertake a what I would call a freedom initiative in the Middle East. I think the easiest thing to say in that part of the Middle East is to say it's a mess. It's always going to be a mess. There is nothing we can do about it. Let's stay away from it. We learned after 9/11 that if we don't change the world the world is going to change us. This will be the only initiative for freedom I think everybody agrees if this doesn't work if the United States can't do it there's no other nation in the world that can do it. And yet we had you know we've had the glimmers of hope. We had that free election where people held their fingers up in the air with that purple ink on it showing they had voted. And interestingly the Iraqi people take the voting they take to politics. We've got a chance to make this work so just as every nation is different you could say Well El Salvador is different to it has a different makeup and different borders and different demographics than Japan did. South Korea is different it was split off from the north so it's half a country right on the other hand they now have freedom. Every country is different. We've got a chance to make this work. And 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 which has a modicum of freedom for its 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 right.
Then you had you had Egypt announcing it would have the first of its first elections in many many years. Remember that multiparty elections. So you had a little ripple that went throughout the Middle East for freedom. When they saw the Iraqi example. Now people say well that's faded now and Syria's got its iron fist back around Lebanon. And the Egyptians are still clamping down. Well that's true. But the United States never stops trying. And I think we've got a good opportunity of making this work. So let's let's do everything we can to make it work rather than come up with eighty five reasons why it probably won't work and we should all come home and be Fortress America.
Well and Congressman we could spend hours and hours and hours on this subject to just follow. But I think I'm going to try to get our audience to join us the number 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7. That's the exchange number.
You can join us we're talking with Republican presidential candidate and Congressman Duncan Hunter. Congressman Hunter this is your first time. Hopefully not the last time but your first time on our airwaves. The audience is just getting to know you. And I want to just take a couple minutes and get a little biography from you. First of all the military it's been a very important part of your life. You served in Vietnam. Your son serves in the Marines spent in Iraq is now in Afghanistan. You started the Armed Services Committee you chaired it when Republicans were in control.
How was the military a part of your background meaning your parents your grandparents I mean how far back does this interest in the military go with you.
Well I just I would just like a lot of American families.
We all have in fact I think every every American has either family or friends who have been in the military because we've been involved in so many conflicts defending our freedom. You know the last century 600 19000 Americans the figures that I saw six hundred nineteen thousand Americans were killed on battlefields around the world defending freedom. You know we tend to look back at the good old days and we realize there weren't really a lot of good old days if you look for an era that was totally free of military conflict. My my grandfather was served in World War One and I remember my dad used to tell me that he had. He was happy that when when parking meters came to Alpine Texas a little town that my granddad lived in because he had to lean on about every fifth one when he walked down the street because he'd been gassed with mustard gas. Now in World War One on the battlefields of France. My dad joined the Marines in World War II after Pearl Harbor and served in the South Pacific. And my son Duncan joined the Marines. I was an Army guy but he joined the Marines the day after 9/11. And that's what made us kind of mad about the Michael Moore movie and said no member of Congress has anybody serving there. When he made that statement my son was in in Iraq I believe in Falluja. And you know my dad wrote back when he came back in to California after World War II. The last letter he wrote to my mom he wrote I think that just to be able to be with your family to take care of your wife and kids every day is a greatest privilege a person can enjoy. And I think that kind of represents the American G.I. coming home he just wants to be with his family and live a normal life. My son when he came back from Fallujah wrote these words he said at some times in it at some point in a dangerous environment you forget about your your own safety and you try to take care of your men but your wife and kids never leave your mind. Families lift our country up. They provide us with Fidelity morality. Faith in God and raising the next generation of Americans. That's those two letters written by my dad and my my son. Sixty one years apart kind of represent I think the American ethic of the G.I. going overseas and serving this country but then coming back to this this country with hopes and optimism for a good life here is to be able to raise our families and live the American dream.
And I think that's kind of the the ethic that that that most guys hold in their heart and the ethic that you grew up with it seems like you know you are right to say that you are one of the few congressmen members of Congress House or Senate that has someone serving in Iraq.
Actually quite a few on the Armed Services Committee and my committee when Michael Moore made that statement my son was in Iraq. Todd Akin of Missouri son is a Marine who served in Iraq is on the Armed Services Committee with me. Todd Akin in Missouri Joe Wilson of South Carolina son was in Iraq. John Klein of Minnesota his son was a helicopter pilot in Iraq. Charlie Taylor of North Carolina is on another committee but there's four people from the Armed Services Committee who had sons in Iraq.
How does that color and your votes you are thinking you were discussions with your fellow congressmen especially the ones who don't always agree with you on military policy.
Well you know I think it gives you some insights. And my son for example you know wrote me that that this latest grenade launcher that they'd replaced all the 50 caliber machine guns with wasn't very good because his gunner was shot while he was wounded while he was in the Humvee with him and they pulled him down inside the Humvee and tried to get the automatic grenade launcher to work in IT WORK. So. So you know his With respect to specific weapons systems what these guys give you from the field while you may get good brochures from the guys and make them here some of them aren't very good.
Some of them are but some of them don't have that dependability that you need in a harsh environment. I think he also made me understand in a very practical way he said Dad he said These people loved us when we came into a part of this. When he was first in southern Iraq but he said you know a couple of the the army trucks accidentally run over some livestock. Pretty soon in the village people don't like the guys and that. I think that gave me a good feel for the fact that occupations are tough and difficult and that people don't like to be occupied no matter how good the guys are. There's resentment about occupations and I think you saw that after World War II also in in Germany where poor people who had great integrated Americans as liberators and some of those villages got pretty tired of guys after they'd been there for four or five or six months. So you want to you want to establish a free government. You want to get out. But I think those insights but also my son gave me great insights into the character of the fighting forces. He said for example most of the Marines were strong Christians that they helped a lot. Lots and lots of prayer meetings and that you had you had a very strong ethic of character and patriotism.
And believe it or not a lot of religious activity on the battlefield. And so that's something that because we live in this age where people can e-mail back now Dunkin's in Afghanistan right now and my gosh I talk to my daughter in law and he may have called the day before. Well you never saw that.
I mean when I was in Vietnam I think I wrote three letters and that was about it because the guys lining up by the phone and waiting for their 15 seconds I never saw that phone. So.
So anyway you get you can really get an insight if you have kids over there. And actually if you have loved ones your friends now buddy has kind of the same insight because of communications. You can you can get it you can see a very clear picture of the operation if you want to. And I think that's a combination of having close a close relationship with people that are in the theater. You know we've had now over a million people a million Americans in uniform have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. That's a lot of folks. And of course those folks coming home now especially in the National Guard and talking to their fellow citizens. I think that's a great service because that connects the citizenry the towns of America with their military. I think that's a good thing.
Let's go back to our callers. Congressmen again the exchange number 1 800 8 9 2 6 4 7 7 and 2 Rockingham Vermont where Harry has been waiting.
Hi harry go ahead. Good morning. Morning. Good morning Harry.
Morning Congressman. I have a question because there was an incident that occurred at the Derby Line with Canada and Vermont and this particular issue a van crossed the border it was caught by the state police fortunately because a camera was posted near the border and in the van were two Orientals and two Hispanics and two Middle Eastern people. And I was kind of shocked like that because we're kind of sleepy back here in Vermont. And my question is how do we know why are we for example letting the the Muslims from the Middle East and country into this into this country when you look at for example in Britain they let these doctors in who they thought were going to help people and turned out to be terrorists.
What's your question about the Canadian border with Vermont then. Harry I'm not sure if it hit me like is wide open.
If we can spend 650 billion dollars in Iraq why can't we protect our own border.
OK. And it's interesting the Canadian border is the border here that we focus on you obviously been focused on the Mexi out of being from Southern Cal..
Harry Harry great question and incidentally to those ends I held a hearing with the Armed Services Committee on the Canadian border last summer was last August and this is what I got from our folks here because listen here's here's what I want to see. We need post-9 11 we need to do two things with respect to our border who's coming into our country and we need to know what they're bringing with them when they come in. You have to know that and that means that border security that the immigration issue is almost a secondary issue with respect to border security. National security is really the primary consideration with respect to our border now. And when I held this hearing here's what. Here was the thrust of what our agencies told me on the Canadian border. They said they think they have enough surveillance she mentioned a camera. They don't have as many Border Patrol agents they don't have as many fences. Of course we don't have any fences on a huge piece of the southern border. But they think they've got enough surveillance right now to be able to maintain control of the Canadian border. But they said if we indeed seal off the southern border which I'm going to do incidentally either either with a law that I got passed and this administration carrying that law out and building the border fence for 854 miles or are my undertaking that operation myself as president we are going to have an enforceable border on the southern border. The United States if we do that with some of our agencies felt that that will you will then see pressure shift to the Canadian border and more people who are who are trying to come into this country some of them for it with criminal intent and some possibly with terrorist intent. That will require buttressing the northern border. And my position is if we have to do that then we have to do it because this is and this should be a non negotiable thing. Build the fence up north. I mean you got to either have have a fence or have enough surveillance with with sensors with cameras to know who is coming into our country and when you have sensors and cameras you can't just have sensors and cameras. You have to have enough people so that if somebody comes into this country with criminal intent on their mind you have to be able to rush a response force whether it's three or four or five people a squad of people or a larger group to intercept them as they come in. That's part of this new era of terrorists with high technology. You have we have to know who's coming into our country now. And in 2005 we captured a hundred and fifty five thousand people coming across the Mexican border who weren't citizens of Mexico. They came from virtually every country in the world. Eleven hundred of them came from communist China. Somehow they had gotten the word that the way you get into America is across the southern border of the U.S. and they had gotten to Mexico and eleven hundred of them we caught coming into this country so we probably had two or three times that many who successfully came in without being interdicted. So you had a few people from North Korea and Iran come across the Mexican border. So they understood also that the way you get into America illegally now is you get to Mexico and anybody with a couple bucks can get to Mexico then you get into the U.S. So the answer to your question is we have to spend what it takes to seal up the borders of the United States. Now the good news is this. Right now you know of the 250000 criminal aliens who are in our prisons in jails right now those are people who came across not to get a job but to hurt Americans. They murdered Americans they've robbed Americans. The 13 gangs are so brutal that their home countries won't even take them back after we catch them. 250000 people who are criminal aliens they crossed into this country illegally to hurt Americans. We pay $3 billion a year to incarcerate them. We could we could build a thousand miles of double border fence with $3 billion. That means that one year's incarceration costs if we could save one year's incarceration costs on criminal aliens who came across the open border. We could build 1000 miles of border fence so we can't afford NOT to seal up our borders.
I ask you a question about the fence. Sure maybe on another program Congressman we can get more into immigration because our time is ticking away and this is a huge issue for you and as you said at the outset it's a good day and remember a time when you've been working on for a long time. Harry thanks a lot for that call about the fence. Congressman as you know not everybody loves the idea of this fence.
They say it's too expensive. It's not going to stop that many people. There's an article here from The Dallas Morning News in Texas that says it's going to impact our environment negatively. It's going to hurt the flow of trade and the relationship with Mexico.
A lot of people Congressman as you know do not feel this is the way to go both in terms of effectiveness and both in terms of the message that it sends that you know we're the United States of paranoia and as this person says in the article OK effectiveness.
When I built the border fence you had the border gangs robbing and raping and murdering them in your illegal aliens hurting people most the people that they hurt were the illegal aliens coming in murdering them on the on a rate of 10 a year in the San Diego sector. They did that because these people would come in with their life savings in their pockets. Right now you've had in the Arizona desert 121 illegal aliens die of heat stroke and dehydration in the last two months because there was no fence. Now if you had 121 high school kids drowning in the canal every year the first thing you do is what you'd fence the canal. You wouldn't have people saying wait a minute we're not going to fence the canal because the bullfrogs might not jump. Now from the bank into the water or the birds might not fly over the fence. We have thousands of fences in America and of course the environment can handle it. So the first thing is does it work. Now we reduced by statistic 90 percent of the smuggling of people and narcotics across and number one smuggler's area in America. That was the area between San Diego and Tijuana Mexico.
So it does work. Did you squeeze it somewhere else though is it like hitting a balloon on one end and OK it stopped in San Diego. But it just went to Texas or Arizona or as you said earlier maybe went all the way up and around to Canada.
Well so the point is you don't just build one section of fence but we but we proved Number one it does work and it was a high convenience for this inconvenience for the smugglers who were set up in Tijuana where they could easily cross cross the border. We now have reduce that smuggling by more than 90 percent. The crime rate in the city of San Diego dropped by 53 percent. When we put the border fence up so first fences work we did prove that.
Secondly the cost as I strained relationships and so forth.
But my concern about the let's go let's go to trade relationships. We have the biggest open door in America building the border fence. Doesn't mean we close the ports of entry through which the thousands of trucks that go back and forth between Mexico and America travel although I don't want to see Mexican trucks taking over America's highways. But my point is. Building the fence to stop the smugglers in a remote area of the Rio Grande. The only trade that goes across that remote area is cocaine. So. So that doesn't slow down trade. So the trade things a phony argument. So the environmental arguments are a phony argument. The birds will fly over a 15 foot high fence. The trade thing is a phony argument because cocaine is not a legitimate item of trade and that's what that's what crosses the border in these remote areas and the fence does work because we've proven it with the San Diego sector. You know we never could have gotten an 80 to 19 vote out of the U.S. Senate to pass the 854 mile border fence bill that I wrote unless we had an example that had already worked in the San Diego sector. A lot of those senators went down to San Diego they talked to the border patrol. They saw that double fence. A smuggler has to go over the first fence cross border patrol road sit down with his welding gear and go to work on the second fence for an extended period of time and he gets caught. That's why they don't try to cross that section any more so the fence does work and people say well that's highly inconvenient. So is waiting at the airport for two hours. But we have to do that in this new age of terrorism. That's part of this new age and as Americans we have to know who's coming across our borders. We can't we can't allow 2000 mile open borders and feel that we're somehow secure.
Well more on this in another program because there's a lot more to cover there. But I'm going to go back to our callers because they have been waiting very patiently especially Donald in Atkinson Donald. You've been waiting a long time. Go ahead and thanks for hanging on there.
Yes Congressman is this an issue that comes up every time I go to an aerospace conference where there's a discussion and a real lively one about satellites being on the ammunition with the this is several companies and the Europeans they're advertising free satellite. And I want to know how you reform these regulations and restore our competitiveness.
What do you mean satellites are on the list. Donald can you elaborate just briefly on that.
Well with that to maintain the State Department call my car the way it was handed down and I mean it.
OK. All right.
Donald I understand and let me tell you Donald I can't help you there and I don't want to help you because the the the satellite technology that we have in this country is very crucial to national security. The Chinese have have now on January 11th blown it a satellite out of the air with an anti-satellite missile you probably saw that the Chinese government wants to dominate space. They are undertaking a number of major space programs. Our eyes and ears are largely in space and there's an old saying in the military protect your eyes. Now Hughes and Loral Corporation gave satellite technology to the communist Chinese several years ago and for that they were disciplined. I have been the number one person in Congress holding up the sale of U.S. satellite technology to the communist Chinese. Now I know that there's lots of people say well we're losing money. You know the French are somebody who works in this field. Yeah the French are selling. Other countries are selling this satellite technology why shouldn't we join. And and the reason we don't want to join is this that technology that we send to them may one day be used to help kill American soldiers on the battlefield. We may see some of that military technology coming back at us. Space is a place where the Chinese are attempting to to design systems that can neutralize America's military strength. And if we want to protect those carrier battle forces that are out in the Pacific and other oceans those 5000 kids that are on an aircraft carrier those Americans that are in Korea those Marines that go out on marine expeditionary floats around the world if we want to protect our forces and protect our country we have to protect our eyes in space and that means not giving away any technology with respect to space. And I know it takes a long time to get licenses through when you're shelling for a legitimate use. But I also know that we make almost no checking of China's final use of a number of the pieces of equipment technological equipment that we sell. So I'm for keeping strict controls in fact in some cases I'm for keeping stricter controls on what they've got right now. And I've been lobbied in California by lots of people that make money selling satellites. And this time we're going to have to come down on the side of national security without the controls in place.
I know that you have enormous concerns about Chinese trade and military technology perhaps Congressman more on that in a future show. Absolutely. Just real briefly what's the campaigning been like in the Granite State this week you've been here for a couple of days you're here for a day or two.
This has been great. I've walked to parade yesterday and am in Merrimack. And you know people were wonderful and and even people that were that were you know I'm a Republican obviously I'm going for the Republican vote but Democrats and Republicans welcomed me they thanked me for a walk in the parade with them. And and it was really it's really been wonderful. Been great. And we're going to a lot more campaigning today and it's been just a neat neat Fourth of July and incidentally to all of people that have uniformed personnel out there around the world Iraq Afghanistan or any place else given them a special things for me for my hard for for giving us the freedom that we celebrated yesterday on the 4th of July. Many thanks.
This transcript is machine-generated and has not been corrected. It is likely there will be errors.
- The Exchange
- Interview with Duncan Hunter
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- New Hampshire Public Radio
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- New Hampshire Public Radio (Concord, New Hampshire)
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- Responding to host and caller questions, California U.S. Rep Duncan Hunter, candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, discusses U.S. policy in Iraq and his support for keeping troops on the ground during reconstruction, border security and his support for building border fences, his support for trade regulations to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S., the importance of military service in his family, and his opposition to selling U.S. satellite technology abroad in the interest of national security.
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- 2012 New Hampshire Public Radio
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Copyright Holder: NHPR
Host: Knoy, Laura
Interviewee: Hunter, Duncan, 1948-
Producing Organization: New Hampshire Public Radio
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New Hampshire Public Radio
Identifier: NHPR71661 (NHPR Code)
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- Chicago: “The Exchange; Interview with Duncan Hunter,” 2007-07-05, New Hampshire Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 16, 2019, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_503-r20rr1q98z.
- MLA: “The Exchange; Interview with Duncan Hunter.” 2007-07-05. New Hampshire Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 16, 2019. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_503-r20rr1q98z>.
- APA: The Exchange; Interview with Duncan Hunter. Boston, MA: New Hampshire Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip_503-r20rr1q98z