CIA Pompeo’s Confirmation Hearing Postponed. What to Expect?

“The people who know him from the House intelligence committee have always said he was serious. He studied the issues. He was worth talking to.”

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden

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Rep. Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing has been pushed to Thursday (12 January 2017). Reasons for the delay are not clear. [It may be related to the unverified but reported news that Russian operatives compiled salacious information about Donald Trump.] If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Pompeo would become one of the most overtly partisan figures to take over the C.I.A. — an agency that is supposed to operate above politics. Follow us on twitter: Intel_Today

So far, six of the 52 GOP Senators have said that they may not vote in favour of a Trump’s nominee. To be confirmed, Pompeo can only lose two of these votes. Rand Paul — of the few Republicans who could oppose a candidate during the  confirmation process — shares some core beliefs with Pompeo.

What to expect?

Announcement of his nomination was warmly greeted by Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which will conduct his confirmation hearing.

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Pompeo stands a good chance of being confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate.

Issues likely to be raised

Enhanced interrogation

Some Senate Democrats — including 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.

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Surveillance

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

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Clinton’s emails

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

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Partisanship and the Benghazi Committee

Rand Paul — one 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.

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Iran Nuclear Deal

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

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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.”

(During his hearing, Mr sessions accepted waterboarding was “improper and illegal”, but said Guantanamo Bay fits the purpose of keeping prisoners “marvellously well”.)

Drones

Pompeo has indicated a comfort with expanding drone strikes, an Obama-era counter-terrorism tactic whose scope under Trump is undefined. “I believe the president needs a lot of space to maneuver. He should have a lot of authority to make decisions about when they’ve identified someone who is trying to kill Americans, to be able to go in and get them,” Pompeo told the Topeka Capitol-Journal in 2013. [GUARDIAN]

Islamophobia

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

Snowden

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

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Morale at the CIA

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.

Jose Rodriguez, the former director of the National Clandestine Service, comes to mind…

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Fighting ISIS

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.

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Russian hacking

During his hearing, Mr sessions said he “has no reason to doubt” US intelligence findings that linked Vladimir Putin to the hacking of Democratic party emails. Mr Pompeo is likely to answer in a similar way.

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It is quite possible that the new allegations regarding Trump’s team activity with some Russians will be raised as this issue may in fact be the reason for delaying the hearing.

This one could to be interesting, but it is to be suspected that Mr Pompeo will answer those questions in the same way Mr Trump did: ‘Fake News’.

REFERENCES

Pompeo’s confirmation hearing to be CIA director postponed one day — WashingtonPost

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