- The Washington Times - Friday, November 18, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas, a former Army officer, businessman and prominent Republican hawk, to head the CIA drew praise from lawmakers of both parties and appeared to be on track for a relatively easy confirmation on the Hill.

Mr. Pompeo, a three-term Republican and a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, is perhaps best known for his sharp criticism of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s handling of the 2012 Benghazi terrorist attacks.

The 52-year-old Mr. Pompeo graduated first in his class from West Point in 1986 and, after leaving the service five years later, went on to earn a degree from Harvard Law School. He moved to Wichita, found an aerospace company in 1996 and won an open House seat in the 2010 tea party wave that saw Republicans recapture control of the chamber.

“He has served our country with honor and spent his life fighting for the security of our citizens,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Friday. “He will be a brilliant and unrelenting leader for our intelligence community to ensure the safety of Americans and our allies.”

If confirmed, Mr. Pompeo will be succeed John O. Brennan, who oversaw a sweeping bureaucratic reorganization sparked in part by the new intelligence challenges from cyberterrorism. While CIA officials have touted the creation of the so-called Directorate for Digital Innovation as the centerpiece of the reorganization, the agency’s internal reshaping also featured the formation of 10 new “mission centers” — including ones for counterintelligence, weapons and counterproliferation and counterterrorism.

It’s not clear whether Mr. Pompeo will try to reverse the reforms or push for even more aggressive changes in the coming years.

Rep. Devin Nunes, California Republican and House intelligence committee chairman, on Friday called Mr. Pompeo “one of the most respected voices” in Congress on national security issues and predicted it would be a popular choice at the agency.

“I am confident his nomination will be widely supported within the CIA, and I look forward to his fast approval by the Senate,” Mr. Nunes said.

While initial reactions suggested Mr. Pompeo will likely cruise to confirmation, ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said his positions on the National Security Agency’s mass surveillance programs and Guantanamo “raise serious civil liberties concerns about privacy and due process.” He has said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden deserves the death penalty for exposing the U.S. surveillance efforts.

“These positions and others merit serious public scrutiny through a confirmation process,” Mr. Romero said in a statement. “His positions on mass surveillance have been rejected by federal courts and have been the subject of several lawsuits.”

But some of Mr. Pompeo’s Democratic colleagues said they approved of Mr. Trump’s choice. Rep. Adam B. Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee, called his GOP colleague “very bright and hard-working.”

“[He] will devote himself to helping the [CIA] develop the best possible intelligence for policymakers,” Mr. Schiff said. “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 CIA director.”

Sen. Mark R. Warner, Virginia Democrat and the incoming vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, offered a similar assessment.

Mr. Pompeo, Mr. Warner said, “has a first-hand appreciation for Congress’ responsibility to provide vigilant oversight of our nation’s intelligence activities, and I look forward to learning more about his views on national security and intelligence policy and his vision for the CIA.”

Mr. Schiff had a more negative reaction to Mr. Trump’s other major national security hire, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who will be Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. A former military intelligence chief, Gen. Flynn has accused the Obama administration of being too soft on terrorism and has cast Islam as a “political ideology” and driver of extremism.

“I am deeply concerned about [Gen. Flynn’s] views on Russia, which over the last twelve months have demonstrated the same fondness for the autocratic and belligerent Kremlin which animate President-elect Trump’s praise of Vladimir Putin,” Mr. Schiff said in a statement Friday.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide