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Brief #39, Foreign Policy

May 14th, 2018

Summary

After a year as the Director of the CIA, Mike Pompeo was confirmed by the Senate in a 57-42 vote as the new Secretary of State. While he eventually secured more votes than his predecessor Rex Tillerson, his path to the confirmation was originally not so assured.

As of mid-April, not a single Democrat or Independent on the  Senate Foreign Relations Committee was willing to go on the record as being in favor of his nomination. On the Republican side, Senator McCain was home battling cancer and Rand Paul had expressed opposition towards Pompeo. However, when Democratic Senators Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Heidi Heitkamp expressed eventual support for Pompeo, the dynamic shifted. Rand Paul’s vote was essential for the  Foreign Relations Committee to support Trump’s pick. Ultimately, Senator Paul changed his mind after being assured by the President that Pompeo regarded the Iraq War was a mistake and that US troops should leave Afghanistan. Pompeo secured the endorsement of the committee and Democratic Senators Bill Nelson, Claire McCaskill, and Doug Jones joined Manchin, Donnelly, and Heitkamp in crossing party lines to vote in favor of his confirmation.

Much of the controversy regarding the idea of Mike Pompeo operating as our nation’s top diplomat regards his positions on the War on Terror and Islam as a concept. Deviating from Tillerson’s view of the United States as a country competing with other economic rivals such as China and Russia, Pompeo seemingly views the US as a crusades-era force defending the West from Iran and “radical Islamic terror”. He has found himself adjacent to a number of groups and individuals who push the narrative that the Muslim world is attempting to subvert the entire social framework of the United States. Pompeo arranged for a Capitol Hill briefing for Act for America, a group which awarded him their National Security Eagle Award in 2016. Act for America is renowned for protesting the building of mosques, pushing for anti-Sharia law bills in state legislatures, and describing terrorism as the “purest form of Islam”. In a 2015 interview, Pompeo agreed with radio host Frank Gaffney that President Obama displayed “kind of an affinity for, if not the violent beheading and crucifixions and slaying of Christians and all that, but at least for the cause for which these guys are engaged in such activities.”

While in a 2017 confirmation hearing Pompeo backtracked on previous statements and spoke in opposition of the use of torture, he is on the record as being in support of the continued use of Guantanamo Bay as a prison camp.

Pompeo spent his time as Director of the CIA personally delivering daily intelligence briefs to President Trump, which  earned him a reputation as a close confidant. While he has previously disparaged Obama for being weak on Russia, he has repeatedly falsely claimed that the intelligence community had concluded that Russian interference had no impact on the 2016 election, despite the fact that the 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment stated that they “did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcome of the 2016 election”. In a confirmation hearing, he also refused to clearly state whether or not Trump had directed him to push the FBI into backing off the Russia investigation. With his willingness to serve Trump’s corrupt interests, his ruthless worldview, and his ample experience in Washington, Pompeo will be a dangerous asset for the President to extend his influence worldwide.

Engagement Resources

  • Follow CREDO Action: CREDO Action is an activist organization which mobilizes support for progressive causes. Their petition asking the Senate to block Pompeo gained over 140,000 votes.
  • Donate to the ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union is one of the most renowned groups involved in defending the rights of citizens. They were steadfast in their opposition of Pompeo’s confirmation. You can donate on their website.

This Brief was compiled by Colin Shanley. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this Brief please contact Colin@usresistnews.org.

 

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