The problem with Mike Pompeo as CIA chief
Pompeo’s extremely hawkish views on critical national security issues, such as his support for keeping open the US prison at Guantanamo Bay; his defense of brutal CIA interrogation practices like waterboarding and “rectal feeding”; and his overwhelming focus on the dire threat of “radical Islamic terrorism” — all positions closely aligned with those of President-elect Trump and his new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn — suggest he is not likely to be a particularly sobering or restraining force on the president-elect, particularly when it comes to controversial policies like torture and drone strikes.
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…
As current CIA Director John Brennan explained at an event at the Brookings Institution think tank back in April, “If a president were to order the agency to carry out waterboarding or something else, it’ll be up to the director of CIA and others within CIA to decide whether or not that direction and order is something that they can carry out in good conscience,” he said.
“As long as I’m director of CIA, irrespective of what the president says, I’m not going to be the director of CIA who gives that order. They’ll have to find another director,” Brennan added.
But Brennan isn’t going to be CIA director anymore; Pompeo is. And Pompeo strongly defended the CIA against its critics in Congress following the 2014 release of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Torture, declaring, “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots,” and, “The programs being used were within the law, within the constitution.”