June 21, 2018

Mike Pompeo, the New CIA Director

On January 23, 2017, Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo from Kansas was confirmed as CIA Director by a 66 to 32 vote in the Senate. On November 18, 2016, he had been nominated by President-elect Donald J. Trump as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Pompeo was the third Cabinet nominee to be approved by the Senate.

CIA Seal

Who is Michael Richard “Mike” Pompeo?

Mike Pompeo official Transition portrait.jpgMichael Richard “Mike” Pompeo was born on December 30, 1963. On November 18, 2016, he was nominated by President-elect Donald J. Trump as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

According to Wikipedia, Mike Pompeo served as a Congressman for Kansas’s 4th Congressional District since 2011. He was born in Orange, California. Pompeo graduated first in his class in 1986 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He majored in Mechanical Engineering. Upon graduation Pompeo served in the Army as an Armor Branch cavalry officer from 1986 to 1991. During this time he patrolled the Iron Curtain before the fall of the Berlin Wall. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry in the Fourth Infantry Division. He served his last tour during the Gulf War

Subsequently, Pompeo received a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a lawyer and founded several businesses. Upon his election to Congress, Pompeo was appointed to the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Energy and Commerce Committee. He also served on the House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Pompeo has criticized President Barack Obama for being indecisive and not supporting the military. He has supported the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency. In a 2013 speech on the House floor, Pompeo said Muslim leaders who fail to denounce acts of terrorism done in the name of Islam are “potentially complicit” in the attacks.

On November 18, 2016, John Hayward wrote an article titled “Ten Things You Did Not Know about Representative Mike Pompeo” which was published in the website Breitbart. Hayward stated the following:

“1. Pompeo, 52, graduated first in his class at West Point in 1986, with a major in mechanical engineering. His Army service included patrolling the Berlin Wall before it came down.SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER “My generation was the tail end of the Cold War,” Pompeo said during a 2014 visit to Kansas State, where he discussed the battle against the Islamic State. He added: Before that, you had Nazism. This will ultimately be this generation’s fight, this battle where radical Islam continues to want to take on the West in fundamental ways, in the same way these other ideologies wanted to do before. I think we’re going to be at this for a while. We ought to be vigorous and thoughtful and effective in the way we respond. In a 2011 profile of soldiers in Congress published by the Association of the United States Army, Pompeo is quoted as saying, I still remember the first acronym I learned, BLUF: Bottom Line Up Front. I still try to communicate that way. No reason to dance around getting to the point.”

“2. He continued his education at Harvard Law School after completing his active-duty Army service in 1991, and was an editor at the Harvard Law Review. He worked as a lawyer in Washington for several years, at the powerful law firm Williams & Connolly. When he arrived here after graduating first in his class at West Point and serving with distinction as an Army officer, he was bent on going into politics, law professor Mary Ann Glendon recalled in a 2011 interview continuing: When he went into business instead, I felt real regret to see yet another young person of great integrity and ability swerve from his original path. But in fact he didn’t. Mike waited until he and his wife, Susan, had raised their son and assured a sound financial footing for the family. This past November, he was elected to the U.S. Congress from the 4th District of Kansas.”

“3. As Professor Glendon said in her interview, Pompeo did not go into politics immediately after his time as a D.C. lawyer. Instead, he returned to his hometown in Orange County, California, and founded a company called Thayer Aerospace with some friends from his West Point days. After serving as Thayer CEO for more than a decade, he sold Thayer and became president of Sentry International, a Wichita-based company that sells oil field equipment…”

“4. Pompeo serves on both the House Intelligence and House Energy and Commerce committees. He was also appointed to the House Select Benghazi Committee.”

“5. Perhaps surprisingly, given his business background, Pompeo’s net worth is rated below average by various public interest sites – 69 percent below the average member of Congress, according to InsideGov, which pegs his net worth at $345,011.”

“6. Pompeo was elected to Congress in 2010 on the Tea Party wave and is now serving his third term. He was, at one point, seen as a dark-horse challenger to Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) for Speaker of the House. There were also rumors he was considering a Senate run. 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,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking Democrat on House Intelligence Committee, said in praise of Pompeo on Friday morning.”

“7. Pompeo was originally a supporter of Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) presidential bid, moving his support to Trump after it became clear he would be the GOP nominee. He is close to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, having served with him when Pence was in Congress. During a breakfast for Kansas delegates to the Republican National Convention in July 2016, he called Pence a “friend and mentor” whose “values … are very much like those of us in Kansas. You have seen him make good decisions in his business life, his family life – with his children, so I am excited for a commander-in-chief who fearlessly puts America out in front, Pompeo said of Trump at the same event.”

“8. He is a strong critic of the Iran nuclear deal, remarking on Twitter that he is looking forward to rolling back this disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism. Among other actions, he has sponsored bills to increase sanctions on Iran and to require the Obama administration to investigate Iran for violating the Geneva Convention in its treatment of ten captured American sailors last year. He also unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a visa to visit Iran and observe its most recent round of elections.”

“9. Pompeo has supported online surveillance programs. He has said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden should be “brought back from Russia and given due process.” He stated, “I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence” because he “put friends of mine, friends of yours who serve in the military today at enormous risk because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers.”

“10. Pompeo has been accused of Islamophobia by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR is a Muslim Brotherhood Front), for statements such as this one, made after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013: “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 continued, “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.”

Testimony of Congressman Mike Pompeo before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence during his confirmation hearing on January 12, 2017

Congressman Mike Pompeo stated the following:

Senator Dole, thank you for your kind words. But more importantly, thank you for the great service you have performed for Kansas and for America both in your life as an elected official, as a soldier in WWII and as a patriot who worked so hard to build the memorial to honor those who fought in that war. Every Kansan—and I think it’s safe to say, all of your former colleagues here in the Senate—know that they have benefitted from your wit, your patriotism and your kindness. I know that I have.

Senator Roberts, thank you too for your kind introduction. I am especially grateful for your guidance over the years, not simply because you are the Dean of our Kansas Congressional delegation, but due to your insights as the former Chairman of this committee. As Chairman, you provided critical leadership during a pivotal and challenging period of American history – during the early years of the Global War on Terrorism and the Iraq War – and I hope I can continue to count on your advice and counsel.

Chairman Burr, Vice-Chairman Warner, Senators – I thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today as the nominee for the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

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Should I be fortunate enough to be confirmed by the Senate, I hope to visit you more often from Langley than I have from across the Capitol. I mean this not as a criticism of relations between the two Houses of Congress, but a recognition of how much value I would place on relations between the CIA and its Congressional overseers.

I want to thank the members and staff of this Committee for their attention to my nomination over the last few weeks. Since I first joined the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) in the 112th Congress, I have felt a special appreciation for the hard work that goes into Congressional oversight. The tremendous honor we have in overseeing the intelligence community is only tempered by the sobering burden of grappling in secret with the many national security challenges facing our country.

I would like to thank President-elect Trump for nominating me to serve in this role and for the faith he has shown in me. It is an honor to be selected as the next steward of the premier intelligence agency that is the CIA. I look forward to working with Senator Dan Coats, nominee for the Director of National Intelligence, and supporting him in his critical role, if we are both confirmed.

I want to thank my patient and patriotic wife Susan, and my son Nicholas, each whom I love dearly. They are both supporting me here this morning. The two of you have been so selfless in allowing me to return to public service— first as a member of Congress and, now, if confirmed, back working with warriors who keep America safe. I cannot tell you how much it means to have you sitting with me today.

I am also grateful to the people of the 4th Congressional District of Kansas, who have entrusted me to represent them in the House of Representatives since 2011. I am proud to have earned and kept their trust, and have cherished every minute of service to my constituents. That said, having been a Member of the House Intelligence Committee and an overseer of our nation’s intelligence enterprise, I understand full well that my job, if confirmed, will be to change roles from policymaker to information provider.

My job will be to stay clearly on the side of intelligence collection and objective analysis of our national security challenges—presenting factual intelligence and sound judgments to policymakers, including this Committee. I have spent the majority of my life outside the realm of politics – as a cavalry officer in the United States Army, then as a litigator, and then running two manufacturing businesses. Returning to duty requiring hard work and unerring candor is something that is in my bones.

Today, I would like to first briefly sketch some of the specific challenges facing the U.S.; second, address trends in intelligence I have seen from my post on HPSCI; and finally, describe what I see as the CIA’s role in addressing these challenges.

Threat Environment

First, as many have noted, this is the most complicated threat environment the U.S. has faced in recent memory. The litany is now familiar:

  • As Director Clapper acknowledged at the beginning of 2016: “there are now more Sunni violent extremist groups, members, and safe havens than at any time in history.”
  • ISIS remains a resilient movement, has metastasized, and shockingly has controlled major urban centers in the Middle East for well over two years. Whereas a few years ago, we focused on stemming the flow of foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq, today, the concern is making sure they, and those they inspire, are prevented from expanding their reach, returning home, or slaughtering more innocent people.
  •  Syria is a failed state and has become one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes of the 21st century. This conflict has led to the rise of extremism, sectarianism, instability in the region and Europe, and the worst refugee crisis the world has faced in recent memory.
  • Iran – the leading state sponsor of terror – has become an emboldened, disruptive player in the Middle East, fueling tension with our Sunni allies.
  • Russia has reasserted itself aggressively, invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nearly nothing to aid in the destruction of ISIS.
  • As China flexes its muscles and expands its military and economic reach, its activities in the South and East China Seas and in cyberspace are pushing new boundaries and creating real tension.
  • North Korea has dangerously accelerated its nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities, with little regard for international pressure.
  • In an increasingly inter-connected world, the cyber domain presents new and growing challenges. Using evolving cyber tools, state and non-state actors continue to probe U.S. systems, exploit vulnerabilities, and challenge our interests.

Intelligence Trends

Intelligence is vital to every national security issue facing the United States. As some have said, it is the “lifeblood” of national security and is more in demand than ever.

  • Intelligence enables better-informed decisions by reducing uncertainty; it is critical in seeking to avoid strategic or tactical surprise, and to giving our armed forces superior domain awareness.
  • We rely on intelligence from around the globe to keep danger from our shores. High quality precision intelligence enables our military efforts. More and more, intelligence is critical to making effective other elements of national power including sanctions against weapons proliferators, cyber criminals, perpetrators of war crimes, and terrorist financiers.
  • We share capabilities and intelligence to improve relationships in furtherance of our national security objectives. Foreign governments and liaison services are vital partners in preventing attacks and providing crucial intelligence. It is important that we thank our foreign partners for standing with us.

As we face a deteriorating global picture, the U.S. needs to redouble its efforts by ensuring we have more intelligence, not less. Indeed, senior Intelligence Community leaders worry that recent budget cuts will have a silent, corrosive effect—weakening the fabric of the intelligence community. If confirmed, as Director, I intend to be an advocate for a strong and vibrant intelligence community and for CIA’s centrality in that community.

There are at least five long term trends making the urgency of recognizing and supporting intelligence critically important.

  • First, the Intelligence Community finds itself a potential victim of a longer term negative budgetary trend. Given the vital role of intelligence in national security, and given the increasing threats we face, this makes little sense.
  • Second, technological advancement across the globe, even by non-hostile countries, is challenging the U.S. advantage, as commercial technologies spread into the hands of those who wish us harm. The world is gaining on the U.S.
  • We have long seen this dynamic with the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missile technology, but increasingly in the cyber domain, countries thought to be unsophisticated, such as North Korea, have overcome what appear to be low technological barriers of entry to engage in offensive cyber operations. The U.S. must continue to invest wisely to maintain a decisive advantage.
  • The effects of dislocation, lack of governance, and the rise of non-state actors threaten our national security and present critical challenges to the Intelligence Community. This is creating new targets for CIA’s intelligence collection and analysis that compete for attention with the usual state suspects and bad actors.
  • Finally, the insider threat problem has grown exponentially in the digital age. Counterintelligence is a perennial issue and we must be increasingly aware that those within our agencies have access to millions of files. By the same token, the use of digital assets by foreign actors creates intelligence opportunities.

CIA’s Role

I want to talk in more detail about today’s challenges. The greatest threats to our national security have always been the CIA’s top priorities. And the CIA has always been at the forefront of America’s comprehensive efforts to meet these threats. Since September 11, 2001, the CIA’s activities have been extraordinary. As the tip of the spear in the war on terrorism, the CIA has put tremendous pressure on our enemies, reducing their freedom to plan, communicate and travel.

The CIA has always played integral roles in America’s fight against radical Islamic terror. It sounded warning bells before 9/11 of al Qaeda’s growing global reach. CIA officers were the first into Afghanistan to lay the groundwork for the military effort that struck a major blow to al Qaeda and drove the Taliban from power. From understanding and tearing apart al Qaeda in Iraq networks, to the hunt for bin Laden, the CIA has been at the forefront of the fight every step of the way.

My outline above of hard targets and challenges merely skims the surface of the potential threats facing the United States. If confirmed, it will be the CIA’s mission to bring other pressing problems, risks, and challenges from regions and countries that don’t always make the front page to the attention of senior policymakers. Indeed, if we are doing our job, we will help U.S. policymakers act early to prevent such problems from becoming front page news.

  • It will also be the CIA’s mission, and my own, to ensure the Agency remains the best in the world at its core mission: discovering the truth and searching out information.
  • In this complex threat environment, we must gather intelligence from the most elusive targets and in the most difficult environments. We will need to rely on liaison services and new relationships, which are critical to gathering information around the world. Even so, U.S. intelligence must continue to expand its global coverage to keep up with these threats. While intelligence sharing relationships with our friends and allies are important, they cannot replace our own unilateral recruiting and operations. To protect America, the CIA must continue to be the world’s premier espionage service.
  • One obvious emerging area for increased focus – both unilaterally and in conjunction with our partners – is the cyber domain. The internet – and the connectivity of our world, systems, and devices – 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. While NSA and Cyber Command play leading roles, cyber has become critical to virtually every intelligence operation and CIA must continue to operate at the forefront on this issue.
  • As the President-elect has made clear, one of my top priorities, if confirmed, is to assist in defeating ISIS. Radical Islamic terrorism is both a symptom and a catalyst of the terrible conflicts raging in the Middle East that have created both a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. The enduring capability of al Qaeda and its affiliates, the rise and resilience of ISIS and Islamic extremists in Libya and across the Middle East, and the brutality of al Shabaab and Boko Haram, should remind us of the need to maintain an aggressive counterterrorism posture. It is also critical to address what manifestations of this threat and ideology emerge – beyond ISIS and al Qaeda.
  • We must also be rigorously fair and objective in assessing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As the deal permits domestic enrichment and other nuclear research and development, U.S. policymakers will need increased intelligence collection and insightful analysis. While as a Member of Congress I opposed the Iran deal, if confirmed, my role will change. It will be to drive the Agency to aggressively pursue collection operations and ensure analysts have the time, political space, and resources to make objective and methodologically sound judgments. If confirmed, I will present their judgments to policymakers.
  • The same goes for Russia. It is a policy decision as to what to do with Russia, but I understand it will be essential that the Agency provide policymakers with accurate intelligence and clear-eyed analysis of Russian activities.
  • The Agency must also serve as the nation’s sentinel for new and emerging threats and trends, monitoring the convergence of rogue actors and capabilities, and sources of instability that can spread across the globe and undermine U.S. national security. This means that the Agency needs the means, capabilities, reach, and awareness to understand and convey where threats are emerging and how U.S. interests may be vulnerable. This requires constant innovation, analytic rigor, and operational flexibility – hallmarks of the CIA.

As a Member of the House Intelligence Committee, I fully appreciate the need for transparency with the Congressional oversight committees. If the Intelligence Community does not secure the support of the appropriate Congressional authorities for its activities, the legislative backlash from controversial intelligence failures and controversies can be severe and counterproductive.

We owe it to our constituents to get to the bottom of intelligence failures – as this Committee did with the pre-war Iraq intelligence. But we owe it to the brave Americans of the intelligence community not to shirk our responsibility when unauthorized disclosures to the media expose controversial intelligence activities, or when Edward Snowden, from the comfort of his Moscow safe house, misleads the American people about the NSA’s surveillance activities.

I cannot stress strongly enough how proud of the CIA’s workforce Americans would be if they could peek behind the curtains, as the Committee gets to do, to see them in action. The incredible talent, bravery, and ingenuity these patriots put on the line every day in defense of our country are constant inspirations to me.

On my first visit out to the CIA headquarters a few years ago, I was walking through an analytical targeting cell. I saw a woman who appeared as though she had not slept for weeks, poring over a data set on her screen. I stopped, introduced myself and asked her what she was working on. She said she thought she was just hours away from solving a riddle about the location of a particularly bad character that she had been pursuing for months. She was not about to abandon her post. She had her mission and its completion would make America safer. A true patriot. In the past years, I have come to know that there are countless men and women just like her working to crush our adversaries with world class intelligence operations.

As these quiet professionals grapple with an overwhelming series of challenges in this increasingly uncertain world, they deserve our support and our respect. When we ask them to do difficult things, they should not have to wonder whether we will stand beside them if things go sideways. We should have their backs. Full stop.

When there are intelligence failures, operations that go off the rails, or controversial disclosures, if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I pledge to come to the Committee in a timely fashion – and be as forthcoming as possible. But I believe that leaders of the Intelligence Community and Congress owe it to the young men and women who risk their lives for us to do our utmost to keep mistakes from being politicized.

This past weekend, I visited Arlington National Cemetery. I’ve done this many times, but on this visit, I paid special attention to the markers that commemorate CIA officers who have perished ensuring our freedom and working to meet America’s intelligence demands. From Afghanistan to Korea and from Lebanon to Africa, and in so many places most Americans will never know, Agency officers put their lives at risk. Too often, because of the nature of their work, we know little about these men and women and what they do. What we do know, is that they were prepared to give so much for each of us. We know the sacrifices of the families of each CIA officer as well. As I walked among these heroes, I was reminded of the sacred trust that will be granted to me if I am confirmed. I will never fail it.

I am honored to have been nominated to lead the finest intelligence agency the world has ever known—working to keep safe the people of the greatest nation in the history of civilization. If confirmed, I will be sworn to defend the United States Constitution for the third time in my life – first as a soldier, then as a member of the House of Representatives, and, now, to work for the President and with each of you. I look forward to your questions today.”

President Donald J. Trump spoke at the CIA headquarters


President Donald J. Trump

President Donald J. Trump spoke at the CIA headquarters on January 21, 2017. He said the following:

“But I want to say that there is nobody that feels stronger about the intelligence community and the CIA than Donald Trump. There’s nobody…Very, very few people could do the job you people do. And I want to just let you know, I am so behind you. And I know maybe sometimes you haven’t gotten the backing that you’ve wanted, and you’re going to get so much backing. But we’re going to do great things. We’re going to do great things. We’ve been fighting these wars for longer than any wars we’ve ever fought. We have not used the real abilities that we have. We’ve been restrained. We have to get rid of ISIS. Have to get rid of ISIS. We have no choice. Radical Islamic terrorism. And I said it yesterday — it has to be eradicated just off the face of the Earth. This is evil. This is evil. And you know, I can understand the other side. We can all understand the other side. There can be wars between countries, there can be wars.”

“But I met Mike Pompeo, and it was the only guy I met. I didn’t want to meet anybody else. I said, cancel everybody else. Cancel. Now, he was approved, essentially, but they’re doing little political games with me. But I met Mike Pompeo, and it was the only guy I met. I didn’t want to meet anybody else. I said, cancel everybody else. Cancel. Now, he was approved, essentially, but they’re doing little political games with me. He was one of the three. Now, last night, as you know, General Mattis, fantastic guy, and General Kelly got approved. And Mike Pompeo was supposed to be in that group. It was going to be the three of them. Can you imagine all of these guys? People respect — you know, they respect that military sense. All my political people, they’re not doing so well. The political people aren’t doing so well but you. We’re going to get them all through, but some will take a little bit longer than others.”

“But Mike was literally — I had a group of — what, we had nine different people? Now, I must say, I didn’t mind cancelling eight appointments. That wasn’t the worst thing in the world. But I met him and I said, he is so good. Number one in his class at West Point… I believe that this group is going to be one of the most important groups in this country toward making us safe, toward making us winners again, toward ending all of the problems. We have so many problems that are interrelated that we don’t even think of, but interrelated to the kind of havoc and fear that this sick group of people has caused. So I can only say that I am with you 1,000 percent.”

“I just wanted to really say that I love you, I respect you. There’s nobody I respect more. You’re going to do a fantastic job. And we’re going to start winning again, and you’re going to be leading the charge. So thank you all very much. Thank you — you’re beautiful. Thank you all very much. Have a good time. I’ll be back. I’ll be back. Thank you.”


Congressman Mike Pompeo was an excellent choice for the position of Director of the CIA. The agency has had problems in the past but having an intelligent patriot at the head of this important intelligence agency such as Mike Pompeo who will provide excellent leadership is a step in the right direction.