President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly chosen the hawkish Tea Party Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to serve as head of the CIA.
Pompeo’s selection was announced Friday along with a slew of other major appointments, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) as Attorney General and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
Pompeo, a former U.S. Army officer, was elected to U.S. Congress in 2010 amidst a Tea Party wave. Among other things, he opposes closing the Guantánamo Bay military prison, favors National Security Agency (NSA) domestic surveillance programs, and is an outspoken opponent of the landmark U.S. nuclear deal with Iran.
Pompeo wrote on Twitter, “I look forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.”
He has also called for NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to receive the death penalty and has mocked hunger striking detainees.
Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), said Friday, “Congressman Pompeo’s positions on bulk surveillance and Guantánamo Bay…raise serious civil liberties concerns about privacy and due process. These positions and others merit serious public scrutiny through a confirmation process. His positions on mass surveillance have been rejected by federal courts and have been the subject of several lawsuits.”
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Pompeo also drew fire in 2013 for stating on the House floor that Muslim leaders who do not denounce terrorist acts are “potentially complicit” in the attacks.
He previously served on the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, where he took part in the investigation into the 2012 attack on an American embassy in Benghazi, Libya. He was particularly critical of Hillary Clinton, who was secretary of state at the time of the attack. The panel ultimately found no wrongdoing on her part or that of President Barack Obama, but Pompeo—along with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)—said they believed the outcome was part of a cover-up.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Pompeo would take over an agency that has come under extreme scrutiny from human rights and civil liberties advocates for its use of torture, the killings of civilians by drone strikes, and involvement in coups against democratic governments overseas.
In fact, Pompeo’s appointment comes as the ACLU, Human Rights Watch (HRW), and other organizations fight to achieve accountability for survivors of the torture program, created under former President George W. Bush.
In addition to his hawkish views, Pompeo has ties to the reclusive right-wing billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, who donate to conservative super PACs and lawmakers around the country. The New York Times reports that they gave Pompeo $80,000 in 2010, more than any other candidate that year. Two years later, Pompeo wrote an op-ed in Politico titled, “Stop Harassing the Koch Brothers.”
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