Trump’s CIA Director Wants to Return to a Pre-Snowden World

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

He’s called for a “fundamental upgrade” to U.S. spying powers.

Mike Pompeo, the man President-elect Donald Trump chose Friday to lead the CIA when he becomes president, has long been a vocal supporter of expanding the government’s surveillance powers.

As Congress worked to wind down the National Security Agency’s bulk data-collection program last summer, rolling back one of the secret measures first authorized under President George W. Bush, Pompeo—a Republican representative from Kansas who sits on the House Intelligence Committee—was pushing back.

In an op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal this January, Pompeo argued forcefully against “blunting” the government’s surveillance powers and called for “a fundamental upgrade to America’s surveillance capabilities.” In the piece, he laid out a road map for expanding surveillance:

Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. Legal and bureaucratic impediments to surveillance should be removed. That includes Presidential Policy Directive-28, which bestows privacy rights on foreigners and imposes burdensome requirements to justify data collection.

In a break with other national-security hawks, however, Pompeo wrote mandating backdoors that would allow the government to access encrypted communications would “do little good.” He argued, as most technologists who promote encryption do, that weakening digital security in the United States would just push bad actors to switch to foreign-made or homegrown software.

He did, however, say using strong encryption for personal communication “may itself be a red flag,” suggesting good security practices could invite government scrutiny under his watch.

Pompeo co-wrote the piece with David Rivkin, Jr., who worked in the Justice Department and the White House Counsel’s Office under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush.

In another op-ed published in National Review two weeks earlier, Pompeo assailed fellow Republicans for being soft on national security, accusing some of being “just as weak” as Democrats.

“Those who today suggest that the USA FREEDOM Act, which gutted the National Security Agency’s metadata program, enables the intelligence community to better prevent and investigate threats against the U.S. are lying,” he wrote.

“To share Edward Snowden’s vision of America as the problem is to come down on the side of President Obama’s diminishing willingness to collect intelligence on jihadis,” he continued, echoing previous criticisms of Snowden’s disclosures. “No Republican candidate who does that is worthy of our vote.”

Pompeo’s push for more surveillance aligns with Trump’s stated positions. As the journalist Marcy Wheeler pointed out, Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, proposed an amendment to a bill that would reform electronic privacy law, which would have required technology companies to turn over communications if the government says it’s an emergency. The amendment did not pass.

Pompeo is also an outspoken critic of the nuclear deal with Iran, which he called a “disastrous deal with the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism” on Twitter on Thursday.

That same day, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper formally announced he’d resign at the end of President Obama’s second term. Clapper’s resignation, which was expected, leaves another high-level intelligence post empty for Trump to fill. The job of the director of national security is to coordinate the activities of the intelligence community, which includes the CIA, NSA, the intelligence branch of the FBI, and 13 other agencies.

A report in The Intercept suggested Trump is considering doing away with Clapper’s cabinet-level position entirely, rather than nominating someone to take his place. The role was created after 9/11, to improve coordination between intelligence agencies. Establishing it was one of the recommendations of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.