CIA Director Mike Pompeo — Who Is Who in World Intelligence and Security Agencies?

“Mike Pompeo has served our country with honor and spent his life fighting for the security of our citizens. He will be a brilliant and unrelenting leader for our intelligence community to ensure the safety of Americans and our allies.”

Donald Trump

“The opportunity to lead the world’s finest intelligence warriors, who labour tirelessly to keep this nation and Kansas safe, is a call to service I cannot ignore.”

Mike Pompeo

“Congressman Pompeo is living proof that you can get all A’s at West Point, graduate first in your class, and still flunk the Constitution with its quaint Eighth Amendment prohibition against ‘cruel and unusual punishment.’ Not knowing the Constitution and the Bill of Rights apparently makes you a good pick to head the CIA.”

Former CIA Ray Mcgovern

 

pompeo

18 November 2016. Donald Trump has offered the post of CIA Director to Congressman Mike Pompeo who accepted the job.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Pompeo would become one of the most overtly partisan figures to take over the C.I.A. — a spy agency that, at least publicly, is supposed to operate above politics and avoid a direct role in policy making.

Pompeo’s nomination as CIA chief could bode well for the future relationship between the CIA and Congress, which has deteriorated in recent years over the CIA’s detainee program and feuds with its nominal overseers on Capitol Hill. [VOX]

The INTERCEPT claims that Trump’s national  security team is discussing plans to dismantle the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and then intend to undo Brennan’s reorganization of the agency. [Admiral Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, is the leading candidate to serve as Trump’s director of national intelligence, the Wall Street Journal reported. ]

Here is a quick post about what is widely known about Mike Pompeo. Updates will follow. Stay tuned.

How did he get the job?

Pompeo is VERY close to Mr Trump’s running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, and helped prepare him for his televised vice-presidential debate. REMEMBER THAT! (Just in case we have to talk about impeachment sometimes down the road…)

Then again, there seems to be the “benghazi factor”.

It appears that Mr. Pompeo’s role in the Benghazi inquiry was a significant factor in Mr. Trump’s decision to select him to lead the C.I.A. Some members of the president-elect’s transition team viewed a competing candidate for the position, former Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, as “soft” on Benghazi because Mr. Rogers, as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, oversaw a report that they believed was not tough enough on Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jordan filed a 48-page addendum that said the attacks showed the State Department was “seemingly more concerned with politics and Secretary Clinton’s legacy than with protecting its people in Benghazi.”

Confirmation

Mr Pompeo has to be confirmed by the Senate before he takes up the post. Unlike others in Trump’s short list (Flynn, Giuliani…), Pompeo may not have lobbying activities with foreign countries. [Pompeo, a Republican from the farm state of Kansas, was the designated hitter for Monsanto and the other Big Ag chemical and seed players… Far from draining the swamp, Pompeo is the ultimate “swamp” creature. He is little more than a puppet for the big chemical and biotech companies. ECOWATCH]

Pompeo stands a good chance of being confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. Announcement of his nomination was warmly greeted by Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will conduct his confirmation hearing.

Rand Paul — of the few Republicans who could oppose a candidate during the  confirmation process — shares some core beliefs with Pompeo. Both believe that Clinton has lied about the Benghazi attack. And so do Mr. Trump.

[GOSINT: Pompeo had considered running against Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran in the Senate Republican primary this year, but the Senate Republicans scrambled to prevent that. The National Republican Senatorial Committee hired a retired FBI agent to dig up dirt against him. And numerous senators, and Speaker Paul Ryan, urged him to stay out.]

Some Senate Democrats — Diane Feinstein — indicated that Mr. Pompeo could face a difficult confirmation hearing, citing some of his past comments, particularly his praise for the C.I.A.’s former detention and interrogation program.

So far, six of the 52 GOP Senators have said that they may not vote in favour of a Trump’s nominee (such as Giuliani or Bolton). To be confirmed, Pompeo can only lose two of these votes.

(NB. Flynn’s National Security Advisor post does not need Senate confirmation.)

Reactions

Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, praised Mr. Pompeo as “bright and hard-working.”

“While we have had our share of strong differences — principally on the politicization of the tragedy in Benghazi — I know that he is someone who is willing to listen and engage, both key qualities in a C.I.A. director,” Mr. Schiff said.

Representative Devin Nunes, Republican of California and now the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said in a statement Friday that Mr. Pompeo “will undoubtedly develop a close working relationship with Congress in his new post.”

Insiders: Best Option!

Pompeo seems to be widely respected within the intelligence community for his intellect and his low key, analytical manner behind closed doors.

Many CIA insiders were breathing a sigh of relief over Pompeo’s ascension Friday, calling him the most favorable option among the many names the Trump team recently had floated.  [NBC]

Security over Politics?

So far, the defining characteristic of Trump’s appointments seems first and foremost to be loyalty to Trump. While that might make sense while in the trenches of a presidential campaign, some experts worry that Trump’s appointments lack the expertise and level-headedness that these high-level national security positions require.

The position of CIA director in particular needs to put national security over politics, said trita Parsi, an expert on U.S. – Iran diplomacy and author of the forthcoming book “Losing an Enemy: Obama, Iran, and the Triumph of Diplomacy.”

“Someone like Pompeo who has been so ideological in his career as a congressman certainly doesn’t give the confidence that he has the capacity to be the role that the head of the CIA has to play,” Parsi said. [Vice News]

Former CIA Director James Woolsey on Pompeo and the CIA

James Woosley:

“I don’t know him personally but I  believe that Pompeo is an excellent choice.”

“Obama wanted the facts to fit the narrative. I had a problem with that.”

“The CIA needs to focus on the key spots of great importance to the US such as Iran, Syria, North Korea… And not get bogged down on re-organization.”

HUMINT or SIGINT? ” You simply need all of these tools.”

Biography

Michael Richard “Mike” Pompeo (born December 30, 1963) is an American politician who has been the U.S. Representative for Kansas’s 4th congressional district since 2011.

He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 with the support of the Republican mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

Mr. Pompeo has close ties to Charles G. and David H. Koch, the billionaire conservatives who are among the most significant activists in financing Republican candidates nationwide. Their company, Koch Industries, and its employees have contributed $357,000 to Mr. Pompeo since 2009.

[Koch has continued to be a strong supporter for Pompeo. According to OpenSecrets data, Koch Industries donated $80,000 to his first Congressional campaign in 2010. In 2012, the oil-and-gas giant donated $110,000 and $114,400 in 2014. During the 2016 campaign, Koch contributed $75,100.]

He is a member of the Tea Party movement within the Republican Party. He served as a Kansas representative on the Republican National Committee. [WIKIPEDIA]

Smart Guy

Pompeo was born in Orange, California, the son of Dorothy (Mercer) and Wayne Pompeo. He attended the U.S. Military Academy where he majored in Mechanical Engineering, graduating first in his class in 1986 and subsequently serving in the Regular Army as an Armor Branch cavalry officer from 1986 to 1991.

He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review.

Businessman

He worked for two and a half years as a lawyer doing mostly tax litigation at the Washington, DC, law firm of Williams & Connolly before going into the world of business.

Pompeo founded Thayer Aerospace in 1996, where he “served as CEO for more than a decade providing components for commercial and military aircraft,” according to his biography on his congressional website.

After selling his stake in the company in 2006, he became president of Sentry International, which he describes on his website as an “oilfield equipment manufacturing, distribution, and service company.” [VOX]

Core beliefs

Iran Nuclear Deal

Pompeo is well-known for his strong opposition to the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Mr. Pompeo has been a staunch opponent of the agreement the United States and five world powers struck with Iran in 2015 to significantly limit Tehran’s nuclear ability for more than a decade in return for the lifting of international oil and financial sanctions. In a July 2016 op-ed article that was published on the Fox News site, Mr. Pompeo wrote that the United States should “walk away from this deal.” [NYT]

pompeoiran

Benghazi

Pompeo  was a member of the special committee investigating the 2012 attacks on the diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.

When asked — during an appearance on “Meet the Press” in late 2015– why his committee’s inquiry into the 2012 attacks on the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, had dragged on longer than the Watergate investigation, Pompeo replied: “This is worse, in some ways.”  [NYT 19 Nov 2016]

He blasted Hillary Clinton over the attack on a US diplomatic outpost in Libya — accusing her of orchestrating a wide-ranging cover-up of the Benghazi attacks.

“After Qhaddafi, the U.S. knew that we could not count on host nation security in a country where militias held significant power. The American people expect that when the government sends our representatives into such dangerous places they receive adequate protection. Secretary Clinton paid special attention to Libya. She sent Ambassador Stevens there. Yet, in August 2012, she missed the last, clear chance to protect her people.”

When the committee released its findings in June, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Jordan filed a 48-page addendum that included far harsher criticism of the administration and of Mrs. Clinton. It said that the attacks showed that the State Department was “seemingly more concerned with politics and Secretary Clinton’s legacy than with protecting its people in Benghazi.” [NYT]

Clinton’s emails

Pompeo strongly criticized Clinton’s use of a private email server

National Security Agency’s bulk data collection programme

He is also an outspoken supporter of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, especially the mass collection of metadata.

In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal last year, Pompeo called for a “fundamental upgrade to America’s surveillance capabilities” and to repeal the reforms to government surveillance implemented after the Edward Snowden revelations. [Vice News]

“Collection of the contents of specific targets’ communications under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has been dumbed down,” Pompeo wrote, “with onerous requirements to secure the authorizing court order.

The intelligence community feels beleaguered and bereft of political support.”

Snowden

Pompeo believes Edward Snowden is a traitor who deserves a death sentence.

“He should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence. Having put friends of mine, friends of yours who serve in the military today an enormous risk because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers.”

Guantanamo

He opposed the closing of the Guantanamo Bay jail. In 2013, after a visit, Pompeo said about prisoners on hunger-strike: “It looked to me like a lot of them had put on weight.”

“I’m fighting hard to keep terrorists out of Kansas and America. We have to keep open the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open. That’s the right option for American national security.”

In a 2013 congressional hearing on whether to close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Pompeo described the prison as “critical to national security” and said that closing it would create the “potential for endless litigation and rights expanded well beyond those afforded to enemy combatants.”

Islamophobia

Mr. Pompeo took to the House floor to suggest some Islamic faith leaders might be tacitly encouraging terrorist attacks.

“When the most devastating terrorist attacks on America in the last 20 years come overwhelmingly from people of a single faith and are performed in the name of that faith a special obligation falls on those that are the leaders of that faith,” he said.

“Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts and, more importantly still, in those that may well follow.”

Harsh interrogation Techniques

Mr. Pompeo’s view on using harsh interrogation techniques on detainees will probably be the subject of many questions during the confirmation process.

He has denounced President Obama’s decision in 2009 to close C.I.A. black-site prisons and also to require government interrogators to strictly adhere to the rules of the Army Field Manual.

That program “was ineffective, it was brutal and it stands in direct violation of American values,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said in a statement. “We can never return to that dark time.”

Ms. Feinstein, a member of the Intelligence Committee, led an investigation into the C.I.A.’s program that produced a voluminous report — most of which remains classified.

In her statement, she said she planned “to speak with Congressman Pompeo about this issue during his confirmation process.”

As current CIA Director John Brennan explained at an event at the Brookings Institution think tank back in April, “If a president were to order the agency to carry out waterboarding or something else, it’ll be up to the director of CIA and others within CIA to decide whether or not that direction and order is something that they can carry out in good conscience,” he said.

“As long as I’m director of CIA, irrespective of what the president says, I’m not going to be the director of CIA who gives that order. They’ll have to find another director,” Brennan added.

But Brennan isn’t going to be CIA director anymore; Pompeo is. And Pompeo strongly defended the CIA against its critics in Congress following the 2014 release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, declaring, “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots,” and, “The programs being used were within the law, within the constitution.”

“I don’t give a damn what the president of the United States wants to do or anybody else wants to do. We will not waterboard. We will not do it,” Senator John McCain of Arizona, chairman of the armed services committee said on saturday during a panel discussion at the Halifax international security forum. [TheGuardian]

Drone strikes

No information but almost certainly in favour

Indefinite detention and military tribunals

Clearly in favour

Geopolitics

His defense of brutal CIA interrogation practices like waterboarding and “rectal feeding”; and his overwhelming focus on the dire threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” — all positions closely aligned with those of President-elect Trump and his new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — suggest he is not likely to be a particularly sobering or restraining force on the president-elect, particularly when it comes to controversial policies like torture and drone strikes.

Pompeo’s hawkish stance toward Russia, on the other hand, could be a major source of tension between him and the president-elect, who, along Flynn, seeks to develop closer ties with Russia, particularly in the fight against ISIS in Syria. [VOX]

Pompeo’s first step

Naming a deputy director, is considered critical. Traditionally, when an outsider like Pompeo is named CIA director, the deputy director tends to be an insider, a current or former CIA officer, usually from the clandestine services.

Leon Panetta for example, chose Steve Kappes, former director of the CIA’s clandestine service (then called Directorate of Operations) as his deputy. If Pompeo makes a similar choice, the agency may embrace him. [NBC]

Fighting ISIS: With or Without Russia?

Trump has expressed a desire to work with Russia in Syria to fight ISIS. But Pompeo has called the notion that Russia’s goal in Syria is to defeat ISIS “a fundamentally false narrative” and suggested that Russia’s real goal is trying to establish a foothold in the Middle East.

Speaking at a foreign policy forum in Washington in October 2015, Pompeo said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “heck bent on changing the geopolitical future,” and criticized the Obama administration for not being tougher on Russia.

The situation is not without irony considering that the entire US intelligence community believes that Trump was elected in part thanks to Russian interference in the election.

REFERENCES

Donald Trump appoints Congressman Mike Pompeo as CIA director

Trump election: Mike Pompeo – America’s likely new spymaster — BBC News

Insiders: Mike Pompeo Best Option Among Possible Trump Picks for CIA

Installing a Torture Fan at CIA

 

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