National Security Experts Issue Letter Endorsing Mike Pompeo as the Next U.S. Secretary of State

Center for Security Policy, April 10, 2018:

(Washington, D.C.): Today, 53 national security experts and public practitioners issued a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker and the committee’s Ranking Member Robert Menendez calling on the U.S. Senate for swiftly endorse President Trump’s choice of Mike Pompeo to be the next U.S. Secretary of State.

The letter’s signatories agree that the wide range of urgent national security threats facing our nation today requires an experienced, highly competent national security leader like Mike Pompeo be confirmed as Secretary of State as soon as possible.  With, among other challenges,  growing tensions in Syria, an upcoming summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and an impending decision on the fate of the nuclear deal with Iran, this is no time for the State Department to be without such a skilled professional at its helm.

The signatories also credit Mike Pompeo for his mastery of the multifaceted threat that Donald Trump promised to defeat in his August 15, 2016 address in Youngstown, Ohio.  Both men recognize this particular danger as ideological in nature, which Mr. Trump correctly noted is called “Sharia” by its adherents, who include “Radical Islamic Terrorists” and “the support networks for Radical Islam in this country.”

Mr. Pompeo’s leadership and management skills from his time in the U.S. Army, the private sector, Congress and as CIA Director are exactly what is needed at the State Department, which is suffering from huge numbers of unfilled positions, low morale and lack of direction.

The letter concludes:

Mike Pompeo is the sort of seasoned, accomplished and energetic national security policy practitioner our nation desperately needs at this juncture in the role of Secretary of State to help President Trump secure our nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. He enjoys our strong endorsement and we respectfully request that the United States Senate express the same by confirming him at the earliest possible moment.

See the letter with signatories

10 Big Changes to Expect With Pompeo at State

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Clarion Project, by Ryan Mauro, March 21, 2018:

By replacing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump has hit the “restart” button on his foreign policy a little over a year into his term.

Trump referenced the Iran deal as the point of contention sparking Tillerson’s departure, as Tillerson and his State Department colleagues favored a policy of making additional demands with additional pressures instead of withdrawing from the deal.

Expect 10 big changes in foreign policy once Pompeo is officially the Secretary of State.

1.Unleashing the sleeping hounds upon on our enemies

Expect a “shadow war” against our enemies that will likely out-do the Obama Administration’s strong covert attacks on the Iranian-North Korean nuclear and missile programs.

As CIA Director, Pompeo reportedly ordered a dramatic increase in human intelligence-gathering, covert operations, cyber security and counterintelligence. He loosened restrictions on drone strikes and other measures to kill terrorists.

Pompeo’s top terrorist hunter was Michael D’Andrea, who married a Muslim woman overseas he met while serving undercover and subsequently converted to Sunni Islam. As the New York Times explained, “perhaps no single CIA official is more responsible for weakening Al-Qaeda.”

D’Andrea, also known as “The Dark Prince” and “Ayatollah Mike,” oversaw the successful search for Osama Bin Laden, as well as the impressive killing of the elusive Hezbollah terrorist Imad Mughniyah.

When Pompeo took over the CIA, he informed the “Dark Prince” he has a new focus: Iran.

In North Korea, Pompeo argued that the ultimate solution should be to “separate the regime from this system” that includes Kim Jong-Un departing from power. His comments contradicted Tillerson’s earlier statement that the U.S. does not seek the ultimate removal of the cultish dictatorship.

In pursuit of that objective, Pompeo has been hoping to support North Korean opposition forces that can destabilize the regime, threatening the only thing that Kim Jong-Un really cares about: himself.

Trump believes that strong pressure caused the potential breakthrough in diplomacy that was recently announced. He will be inclined towards embracing Pompeo’s approach while publicly giving North Korea a chance for a positive change in relations.

Pakistan should also be worried as President Trump has unequivocally stated that Pakistan will finally be held accountable for its role in sustaining the global jihadist insurgency, including killing U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Pompeo accurately stated that victory in Afghanistan and getting to some kind of ceasefire with the Taliban is wholly contingent upon the Taliban and interlinked jihadist groups losing their safe haven in Pakistan. To date, the U.S. has refrained from targeting most of Pakistan’s proxies with the infrastructure that sustains Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

To Tillerson’s credit, his State Department designated Hizbul Mujahideen, a jihadist group that is essentially an arm of Pakistani intelligence, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization. The Trump Administration is likely to target the Al-Qaeda-linked groups who maintain a large infrastructure in Pakistan and Kashmir that reaches into the U.S.

2. Ending the Iran deal and a broader attack on Iranian influence

Pompeo’s position on the nuclear deal with Iran is quite clear: “roll it back.”

He believes Iran should not be allowed to have advanced nuclear enrichment capabilities or to the ability to quickly “break out” from a civilian nuclear program into a bomb-building program.

That’s almost the opposite of Tillerson (and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster), who criticized the deal but fought to preserve it.

Pompeo also desires to “push back” Iran, meaning forcing its militias, terrorist proxies and various regional influence operations into retreat. Iran’s efforts include murdering American troops in Afghanistan and creating a Hezbollah-like force in Yemen.

A big question remains about whether Trump will embrace regime change—albeit using more acceptable words, given his consistent opposition to overthrowing foreign governments.

President Trump rooted on the brave protestors in Iran with repeated public encouragement (though it should have continued right up to today), but never formally aligned U.S. policy with their ultimate goal.

Senior officials confirmed to me that the Trump Administration actually rejected overthrowing the Iranian regime as a strategy. This account is substantiated by others who got separate briefings from administration officials who denied trying to remove the theocracy from power.

Pompeo is likely to be more inclined towards this option—the best anti-war, pro-peace option available. As secretary of state, he’s also likely to embrace the Sunni Arab plan to destabilize Iran and its Qatari allies that Tillerson rejected.

3. Rejecting the Islamist lobby of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar, Iran and (possibly) Turkey

Tillerson could not have been more disappointing when it came to confronting the Sunni Islamist lobbies of the Muslim Brotherhood, Qatar and Turkey. The result has been the loss of a tremendous opportunity to pressure Qatar as the Arabs ganged up on the terror-sponsor following Trump’s positively-received speech in Riyadh.

Tillerson, more than any other Trump Administration official, bears responsibility for saving the Muslim Brotherhood from being designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization so its U.S. network could begin being dismantled. Tillerson praised Turkish dictator Erdogan and shilled for Qatar.

One cannot help but suspect that Tillerson’s business ties from leading Exxon-Mobil impacted his decision-making towards his former business partners. When Tillerson was widely reported to be on the edge of quitting, he was said to tell colleagues that, besides Iran, his biggest area of difference with Trump was Qatar.

Why was he so passionate about standing up for Qatar out of all the complicated foreign policy he had to deal with?

When the Arab world put its foot down on Qatar, Tillerson’s State Department contradicted the commander-in-chief, even casting doubt on our Arab partners’ allegations that Qatar sponsors Islamist terrorists—a widely known, indisputable fact.

Qatar also launched a well-funded lobbying campaign targeting former Trump campaign officials and seducing former adversaries, like a senior staffer to Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who introduced the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act. The result was Trump flip-flopping on our terror-sponsoring “ally.”

The Tillerson State Department, like the Obama Administration before it, gave a platform to a radical cleric linked to the Muslim Brotherhood so he could win a fanbase as an admirable “moderate” against terrorism.

In August 2017, Clarion Project broke the story that a pro-Erdogan Muslim Brotherhood coalition known as the U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations had visited the State Department to express their opinion on the Islamist-manufactured Temple Mount crisis facing Israel. The coalition didn’t say much about the meeting except that it was “encouraged by the constructive dialogue.”

The State Department defended the meeting and added an extra dose of madness to the situation. It turned out there were more meetings. The red carpet was rolled out for the council. They had “met a cross-section of working-level officials from different offices in the [State] Department,” it said.

Here’s another example:

As Dr. Daniel Pipes pointed out in August 2017, Tillerson’s State Department was even facilitating meetings between official Indonesian visitors (and presumably others) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a group with a history of ties to Islamic terrorist and extremist groups. The Justice Department listed CAIR as an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a terrorism-financing trial and identified it as an “entity” of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestine Committee, a secret body established to covertly assist the Hamas terrorist group.

As a congressman, Pompeo was one of the earliest and staunchest supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act, knowing full well that put him in the crosshairs of the Islamist lobby backed by Qatar and Turkey.

However, the Trump Administration’s stance towards Erdogan has been disturbingly friendly, so it is unclear how much change will come in that direction. Pompeo gave a disappointing answer when asked whether the Kurds are America’s friend that could foreshadow a continuance of the Trump Administration’s frequent choosing of Turkey over the Kurds.

Yet, when it came to Iran, he was not swayed by local pressure from businesses eager to trade with the regime, such as by selling aircraft and associated equipment. In fact, he wrote an article titled, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Do Business With Iran.”

4.The Muslim Brotherhood and possibly Jamaat ul-Fuqra are likely to be designated as Foreign Terrorist Organizations

When it comes to the Muslim Brotherhood, Pompeo gets it. He even went head-to-head with local Islamists when he was a congressman, bringing public pressure upon the Islamic Society of Wichita for having a terrorism-linked guest speaker. The mosque cancelled the event, blaming him for causing security costs to get too high.

The case for designating Jamaat ul-Fuqra, whose Muslims of the Americas (MOA) front is known for claiming to have 22 “Islamic villages” in America, is just as strong as it is for the Muslim Brotherhood—if not stronger. If Pompeo is made aware of it, he is likely to designate the group, especially due to its links to the recently-designated Hizbul Mujahideen.

5. Even stronger stance with Israel against Islamism and its associated hatreds.

If you thought the Trump Administration was favorable towards Israel now, just wait to see what happens with Pompeo in charge of foreign policy.

Pompeo sees Israel as a beachhead of secular democracy stemming the wave of Islamism headed towards the West. Even under President Trump, there were danger signs for Israel emerging.

6. Pressure on Islamic leadership

Pompeo understands that the jihadist threat is rooted in an ideological interpretation of Islam and that Muslim leaders who fail to unequivocally stand against terrorism and the pursuit of theocratic sharia law are part of the problem.

Critics of Pompeo are taking these comments out of context and conveniently ignoring his support for D’Andrea, the Sunni Muslim convert who led the covert operations against Al-Qaeda and now, due to Pompeo, is doing the same against Iran.

Pompeo’s observation about a lack of “Thomas Jeffersons” in the Middle East does not reflect anti-Muslim bigotry but a desire to help Muslim modernist reformers.

7. He understands the ideological war

A review of his statements and actions have a common denominator: He knows how to wage ideological warfare against America’s adversaries. The aforementioned example of how he pressured the mosque in Wichita proves this point.

As CIA Director, he released portions of Osama Bin Laden’s archive that the Obama Administration refused to—presumably because they showed far closer ties between Bin Laden/Al-Qaeda and Iran than it wished for the public to know.

He saw the value in releasing evidence to expose both enemies. This is a no-brainer that you’d assume would happen all the time but it does not. In the past, our government failed to embrace transparency and cautious release of information as a strategy, and more broadly, a moral imperative for our democracy.

8.Tougher on Russia, Venezuela and Cuba

It must be remembered that Russia is backing elements of the Islamist cause, particularly the Taliban, Iran, the Assad regime and Hezbollah. It also does not consider Hamas to be a terrorist group, and Putin’s puppets in Chechnya are promoting puritanical beliefs.

Expect Pompeo to hold Putin accountable as much as President Trump will let him.

Pompeo does not fall for the manipulations of Russia, Iran and Assad that are designed to present themselves as the “moderate” solutions to the threat of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the like. He disagrees with Trump regarding the helpfulness of Russia’s role in Syria.

He is also not a “Russia denier.” He doesn’t continually dismiss any intelligence analysis concluding that Russia tried to influence the 2016 election and use our hyper-partisanship to rip apart American society and use our dysfunction to discredit the ideology of secular democracy.

Pompeo also sounds like he advocates a tougher line on the Venezuelan dictatorship that is allied with Iran and expressed concern about Cuban intelligence operations against the U.S.

9. Confronting the “non-state hostile intelligence services”

Pompeo is greatly concerned with how anti-American actors, including Islamists and obviously Russia, can use “non-state hostile intelligence services” like Wikileaks to wreak havoc on the West’s intelligence operations, military operations and international partnerships, as well as dominate media cycles to their preferred narrative.

As I wrote here, Julian Assange is dedicated to fanning the flames of anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism.Comedian Stephen Colbert, in a rare break from character and politeness, confronted Assange on behalf of U.S. troops in this 2010 interview before bashing Wikileaks became a left-wing pastime.

One of the most important people involved with Wikileaks, Israel Shamir, praised Iranian President Ahmadinejad and refers to Palestinian terrorists as “martyrs.”

He’s also a Holocaust denier and, since 2010, acts as the liaison between Assange and the Russian state-controlled media. The ties between the anti-Semitic Israel Shamir, Julian Assange and Russia are extensive and well-documented.

To give another famous example, a bipartisan U.S. House Intelligence Committee investigation into Edward Snowden concluded that he lied about numerous parts of his story and has close ties to Russian intelligence.

Pompeo is triggered when Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning are mentioned.

In one public discussion, he said Snowden “absconded to the comfortable clutches of Russian intelligence, his treachery directly harmed a wide range of U.S. intelligence and military operations … In fact, a colleague of ours at the National Security Agency recently explained that more than a thousand foreign targets, people, groups and organizations, more than a thousand of them, tried to change how they communicated as a direct result of Snowden’s disclosures. That’s a staggering number.”

Snowden claims to have no relationship with Assange’s Wikileaks. That further illustrates the fact that these “non-state hostile intelligence services” are a growing threat and, for Islamists and the governments sponsoring them, present an incredible opportunity.

As Pompeo points out, these “activists’” emphasis on disclosures that hurt the West is telling. He said, “Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom.”

10. A Trump Administration more in unison and a better informed President Trump

The Trump Administration basically did not include the State Department. This divided was aggravated by the simple fact that Tillerson and Trump just didn’t get along and had too many differing opinions.

Unnamed officials were regularly quoting Trump as calling Tillerson too weak. Tillerson did not deny reports that he called Trump a “moron” at a meeting.

Unlike Tillerson, Pompeo has personal chemistry with Trump. He also upstaged Tillerson with his talent for educating Trump on foreign affairs using visuals that hold his attention.

Expect dramatic changes in the Trump Administration’s foreign policy and its approach towards Islamist extremism.

Conclusion

Of the most senior officials, only National Security Adviser McMaster stands in the way of an aggressive ideological war on Islamism. And it seems his days are numbered, with his likeliest replacement being former U.N. ambassador John Bolton.

The White House is denying that McMaster is on his way out the door, but we’ve heard those denials before. Trump needs to just do it.

We are over a year into the Trump presidency and, by the end of this year, we’ll probably be hearing about Democratic and possibly Republican candidates announcing their presidential candidacies.

There is no time to waste.

It’s time for Trump to get his team together and get his foreign policy moving.

POMPEO SPEAKS

Powerline, by Scott Johnson, Sept. 12, 2017:

Bret Baier interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo yesterday afternoon for a segment of the FOX News Special Report. The interview was occasioned by the anniversary of 9/11. The questions were well informed and the answers were direct. Most striking to me was Pompeo’s contrast with his predecessor.

Baier, for example, asked Pompeo whether the intelligence assessments supported the proposition that ISIS constituted a junior varsity terrorist organization consistent with the advertised assessment of President Obama. “No,” Pompeo responded.

Baier elicited news from Pompeo with his answer to the question when the trove of documents captured in the raid on bin Laden’s compound would be released. Pompeo promised that they would be released in their entirety “very soon” — with the exception of pornography and copyrighted material. “Everything other than those items will be released in the weeks ahead,” he said.

Pompeo also acknowledged and discussed Iran’s collaborative relationship with al Qaeda. President Obama, you may recall, helped make billions of dollars available to the Iranian regime for its nefarious purposes. President Trump’s options with Iran may be limited, but at least he understands that we need a way out and means to do something about it. Iran seems to me to represent the single most sinister example of Obama’s efforts to bind those who would follow him to his warped vision.

CIA’s New Boss Accused of Not Being Interested in Diversity

Front Page Magazine, by Daniel Greenfield, Sept. 10, 2017:

The CIA needs diversity like a racehorse needs a fifth leg.

The Foreign Policy “expose” accidentally demonstrates that with its opening anecdote.

In early summer, Judy and Dennis Shepard bought plane tickets to give a speech to the workforce at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The Shepards in 1998 had founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in honor of their late son — a 21-year-old college freshman who was viciously attacked and left tied to a fence before he was brought to a hospital where he died of his injuries. One of the most notorious anti-gay acts of violence in U.S. history, his death led to some of the country’s first federal hate crime laws.

The Shepards had been invited to the CIA to talk about diversity and LGBTQ rights, joining a long line of guest speakers at the covert overseas spy agency including lawmakers, former officials, authors, and celebrities.

The schedule was set, and the details arranged, but in the 11th hour, the senior leadership shut down the event. The seventh floor, where the director’s office sits, had the Shepards’ speech canceled, questioning what value it would bring to the CIA mission.

Good question. What value does it bring? FP’s article treats the answer as self-evident. But it isn’t at all.

Does the CIA have a major gay bashing problem? Is it involved in solving gay hate crimes? There’s no concievable reason for this except Obama Inc’s obsession with shoehorning its social justice agenda into everything. And so it was rightly canceled. The CIA should have better things to do than diversity training. Except not according to FP.

The cancellation, now under review by the CIA’s Office of General Counsel, according to a second source, left employees disheartened — particularly those invested in the diversity reforms that were emphasized during the tenure of John Brennan, the former CIA director.

…if you were looking for yet another reason why John Brennan shouldn’t have ever been allowed to run the CIA or fry eggs over the stove…

But the media is playing the same old game of turning embedded Obama operatives in an organization into anonymous sources that highlight some larger supposed frustration about the organization’s mission. Because #Resistance.

For those who have worked inside the agency, the backtracking on diversity represents a threat to the workforce and national security,

Yes, not hearing a lecture on Matthew Shepard undermines our national security…

The agency needs employees from different backgrounds and orientations to effectively recruit agents abroad.

Somehow the old CIA managed to recruit all sorts back in the day. Has the new diversity CIA gotten better at recruiting assets?

“The most important intelligence product … during the 1950s and ’60s and ’70s was essentially produced by old white men,” said David Priess, a former CIA briefer and author of The President’s Book of Secrets.

Not to mention science. If only Newton or Einstein had been forced to sit through a lecture on Angela Davis or Matthew Shephard.

In March 2013, John Brennan was appointed director under President Barack Obama, and the new CIA head moved to make diversity and employee rights a priority. Senior leaders competed for spots to speak at employee gay pride events and accompanied the director to diversity events and celebrations.

…priotiies. When the left takes over, national security ceases to be a priority and is replaced by political correctness.

But for Brennan, the changes were a matter of building a better workforce, as well as national security. “I believe strongly that diversity and inclusion [are] what this country is all about,” Brennan said in a phone interview with FP. “I can think of no organization that can make a better business case for diversity and inclusion than the CIA.”

Except just about every organization. But who wants to waste time on intel when there’s virtue to be signaled.

In June, the intelligence community held its pride summit at FBI headquarters. Speakers included then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who said the intelligence community’s credibility derived from the importance it placed on diversity. “We all need to be allies, to walk in each other’s shoes, to try to understand what it’s like, for example, to be gay, a person of color, or transgender, or all of these at the same time,” he said in a keynote speech.

Another reminder of what a disaster McCabe is.

During his very first all-hands speech to the CIA workforce, Pompeo cheered the officers and analysts, pledging to support them. But on the issue of diversity, Pompeo’s response raised concerns. According to two sources familiar with the speech, he was repeatedly asked about his commitment to diversity. After the third question, he visibly lost his temper. He snapped back, saying he didn’t know what people wanted him to do besides seek out the best person for the job, one source who was present at the speech recalled.

The best person for the job? Come on. What is this? Some sort of meritocracy.

“He didn’t seem to understand the need for a workforce that reflects America,” another source familiar with speech noted.

They don’t want a workforce that reflects America, but one that reflects Berkeley.

When asked if Pompeo had attended any diversity events, the spokesperson instead referred to Pompeo’s commitment to hiring the best person. “Whether that person is an African American IT professional from New York, a Pashtun speaking Italian from Montana or a Hmong scholar from Mississippi, there is only one question:  can that person deliver the mission they are tasked with undertaking to keep America safe?” the spokesperson said.

“This is heartbreaking,” said Bakos, the former CIA analyst, of reports that diversity efforts are backsliding. “It’s already too easy to get these flag-waving, chest-bumping people” hired into the agency.

And why would we want those?

CIA’s Pompeo rips WikiLeaks as ‘hostile intelligence service’ abetted by Russia

Fox News, April 13, 2017:

CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first speech since taking over the agency, lambasted WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange — calling the group a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that is often abetted by “state actors like Russia.”

Speaking Thursday at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Pompeo called Assange a “fraud,” someone with no “moral compass” and a “narcissist who has created nothing of value.”

He asserted that Assange and former National Security Agency staffer and famed leaker Edward Snowden “seek to use that information to make a name for themselves” and they “care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.”

Asked why he would focus on WikiLeaks rather than other issues, Pompeo said he felt it was vital to inform the American people about the threat they pose.

In the case of Snowden, Pompeo said the detrimental impact of his leaks was expansive and that more than 1,000 foreign targets attempted to change their means of communication as a result of the Snowden disclosures.

“The bottom line is that it became harder for us in the intelligence community to keep Americans safe. It became harder to monitor the communications of terrorist organizations that are bent on bringing bloodshed to our shores.  Snowden’s disclosures helped these groups find ways to hide themselves in the crowded digital forest,” he said.

Last week, WikiLeaks released the latest chapter in its ongoing “Vault 7” series of cyber and hacking tools that it claims were stolen from the CIA.

According to its release, the new leaked information contains 27 documents from the CIA’s Grasshopper Framework, which is allegedly the software tools used by the CIA to infiltrate Microsoft’s Windows platform.

The former Kansas congressman began his speech by telling the story of Philip Agee, a founding member of the magazine Counterspy, which advocated for the exposure of intelligence agents.

In September 1974, Agee’s magazine publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA chief of station in Athens, Greece and published his address. One year later, Agee was assassinated.

“Today, there are still plenty of Philip Agees in the world, and the harm they inflict on U.S. institutions and personnel is just as serious today as it was back then,” said the director.

In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Assange said he shared the goal of the Post and The New York Times “to publish noteworthy content.”

The director also came to the defense of his agency and CIA agents who cannot “speak up for themselves” given their positions.

He said that “regardless of what you see on the silver screen, we do not pursue covert action on a whim without approval or accountability” and that when covert action takes place, “there is oversight and accountability every step of the way.”

Mike Pompeo: Attempts to Invalidate Trump’s Presidency Plays into Putin’s Hands

Getty / Joe Raedle

Getty / Joe Raedle

Breitbart, by Warner Todd Huston, January 12, 2016:

During his confirmation hearing, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said he would observe the proper laws forbidding enhanced interrogation of terror suspects and affirmed that he believes Russia is a threat to the United States. He also noted, however, that attempts to undermine President-elect Donald Trump plays right into the hands of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

On Thursday, the U.S. Senate held its first hearing for the confirmation of Rep. Pompeo, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to become CIA chief. While the hearing kicked off with a temporary power outage in the room, the congressman fielded a range of questions from metadata, to CIA-sponsored torture, to privacy concerns. One senator, California’s Kamala Harris, even went off on a tangent asking Pompeo about NASA global warming data and Pompeo’s views on gay marriage.

When it came time to talk about Russia, though, Pompeo had a dual warning.

The Kansan said that Russia is not an ally of the United States, but also insisted that attempts to invalidate Donald Trump’s presidency is serving the anti-American policies of Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Agreeing with the U.S. intelligence community’s latest assessment of Russia, Pompeo also said it is “pretty clear” that the Russians tried to influence the U.S. elections.

“It’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have impact on American democracy,” Pompeo said during the Senate Intelligence Committee meeting. “I’m very clear-eyed about what that intelligence report says. This was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia.”

Pompeo also said he would support an extensive investigation into just what forms that “aggressive action” took during the 2016 campaign saying, “I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence with vigor no matter where the facts lead.”

“The internet,” Pompeo said, “is a borderless, global environment, easily and frequently exploited by sophisticated adversaries like China and Russia, as well as by less sophisticated adversaries like Iran and North Korea, non-state actors, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, and hackers.”

He also warned though that constant speculation that the election was hacked plays into Putin’s hands. During his response on the matter he said he has “no doubt that the discourse that’s been taking place is something Putin would look at and say, ‘That was among the objectives that I have.’”

As for another topic, many liberals have worried about Pompeo’s thoughts on the CIA using enhanced interrogation. The question seemed fairly answered when Senators Feinstein and Heinrich both quizzed him on the topic. Pompeo told Feinstein he would not re-start the enhanced interrogation policy if he were to become head of the CIA and assured Senator Heinrich that he would stick to the Army field manual for interrogation that currently forbids such techniques.

As to Iran, Pompeo said that despite his personal opinions and his past claims that he would work to repeal Obama’s “disastrous deal” with Iran, he would abide by whatever his President told him to do on the issue.

The congressman also fielded questions about his past comments on gathering metadata. While noting that intelligence is the “lifeblood” of national security, he added that such intel “is more in demand than ever.”

The Supreme Court has ruled that metadata is not private personal information, but nonetheless Pompeo said he would certainly toe the line of the law — whatever that may be — on the collection of data.

He was also asked for his thoughts on demanding that tech companies give the U.S. government keys to their encryption of data. Pompeo replied that personal privacy would be an important concern for him and added, “I think we need to acknowledge that encryption is out there, and not all encryption takes place in the United States,” Pompeo replied.

But even as Pompeo said he’d toe the law on these matters, Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn asked Pompeo if he will “play to the edge” of the law as CIA director so as not to play too cautious with national security. The Congressman said he would be sure to be mindful of the needs of his operatives and added, “It’s my role to make sure those lines are clear and bright.”

Pompeo also faced questioning from California Democrat Kamala Harris who seemed to feel his stance against gay marriage would hamper his work to secure the nation. She also quizzed him on global warming, asking if he would accept climate change claims made by NASA.

Seemingly bemused by the quixotic line of questioning, Pompeo assured Harris that as a small businessman he’s never let anyone’s sexuality interfere in what he expected of them as an employee and that, as an engineer by training, facts and data drive his life – so if he found believable data on climate change it would certainly be an important consideration in his thought process.

The hearing was not without humor, either, as Arizona Republican John McCain, a graduate of the Naval Academy, joked that Pompeo’s education was “very poor” because he was a graduate of West Point.

Obama Admin Hid Details of Multi-Million Dollar Cash Payout to Iran From Congress

John Kerry and Javad Zarif / AP

John Kerry and Javad Zarif / AP

Washington Free Beacon, by Adam Kredo, Aug. 4, 2016

The Obama administration took steps to withhold from lawmakers the details of a $400 million cash payout to Iran and continues to rebuke inquiries from Congress for information about how another $1.3 billion in taxpayer funds was awarded to the Islamic Republic, according to multiple conversations with congressional sources apprised of the matter.

U.S. officials familiar with the recent transfer of $400 million in hard currency to Iran withheld details of the exchange from Congress during briefings in classified and unclassified settings, the Washington Free Beacon has learned.

The disclosure threatens to complicate efforts by the administration to downplay new reports detailing how U.S. officials used an unmarked aircraft to transfer $400 million in “pallets of cash” to Iran on the same day it freed several U.S. hostages.

Lawmakers and others have claimed for months that the payment was part of a “ransom” aimed at securing the release of the hostages. The White House denies this claim and has said the payment was part of a settlement to resolve decades-old legal disputes with the Islamic Republic.

Nearly eight months after congressional officials demanded a formal accounting of this payment–which amounted to $1.7 billion in total–the administration is still declining to provide lawmakers with the full story, sparking outrage on Capitol Hill.

“It has been seven months since President Obama announced that he was giving the Islamic Republic of Iran almost $2 billion,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R., Kan.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told the Free Beacon on Wednesday.  “And we are just now finding out damning details about how $400 million, which is less than half of the total, was sent to Iran using foreign aircraft and foreign currencies.”

Pompeo led several unsuccessful inquiries into the cash payout. He said the administration has been stonewalling efforts to obtain a full readout of the exchange in both classified and unclassified settings since January.

Pompeo expressed anger that the administration is “totally stonewalling congressional inquiries,” while leaving it to the press to unearth the details of the exchange.

“That is far too long of a timeline, especially as it is in the face of the Obama administration totally stonewalling congressional inquiries into this matter since January,” Pompeo said.

“We still do not know how the other $1.3 billion was sent, and we still have three Americans sitting in prisons in Iran,” Pompeo said, explaining that the bulk of the cash to Iran remains shrouded in mystery.

Congressional sources with knowledge of the situation told the Free Beacon that the State Department and other administration officials withheld details regarding the payment for more than three months–and only then provided a barebones accounting of the payout that omitted all mention of the secret cash delivery.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon said this was an intentional effort by the administration to keep lawmakers in the dark and prevent them from receiving a full accounting of the $1.7 billion payout.

A timeline centered around these inquires reveals that administration officials stonewalled Congress for months before providing responses that omitted any mention of the hard currency transfer.

Pompeo launched an inquiry seeking further details in January, when the legal settlement was first announced.

By mid-March, the State Department still had not responded, as was first reported by the Free Beacon.

The State Department informed Pompeo later that month in a hand-delivered letter that the information he was seeking was classified.

A classified briefing was held in late April. Sources familiar with the briefing told the Free Beacon that administration officials made no mention of the $400 million cash delivery. This information was only made public when the Wall Street Journal reported it late Monday.

One congressional source working on the issue said that the Obama administration could now spend funds set aside for American victims of terrorism on further payments to Iran.

“This just makes you wonder how far President Obama is willing to go to appease the Iranians,” the source said. “Iran keeps taking American citizens hostage because it knows the administration will cave. It wouldn’t surprise me if the president has authorized negotiations with Iran over the $2 billion that is meant to go to the families of the victims of Iranian terror.”

“Every action this administration has taken toward Iran has been in furtherance of the regime’s interests and at our expense,” the source added. “What else is currently being negotiated between the administration and Iran? The American people deserve to know and they should demand full transparency.”

A second congressional source involved in the issue told the Free Beacon that obfuscation by the administration has become a pattern and practice when it comes to Iran.

“Congress continues to press the Obama administration on every change and new policy regarding Iran,” the source said. “At every turn, we are met with ‘no comment’ and further secrecy, which is why the American people do not like this deal and understand it does not make them safer.”

Another source familiar with the administration’s thinking said that administration efforts to downplay the latest disclosures do no comport with the reality that this payment was part of a secret negotiation.

“The Obama admin is hoping to convince people that there’s nothing new in this scandal,” the source said. “But they can’t convince members of Congress because members know that they weren’t told all the details about this cash payment for hostages. For instance, the administration has refused to fully disclose all the ways in which it has transferred money to Iran all of the time.”

The White House declined on Wednesday to offer further details to reporters.

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