WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, issued the following statement in advance of the vote on the nomination of Rep. Mike Pompeo to be the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
“Our next CIA Director must confront the daunting challenge of collecting information overseas on a wide variety of adversaries seeking to bring harm to the United States and our interests. The CIA plays a critical role in providing the best intelligence possible to military and civilian leaders in both the executive and legislative branches. After the 9/11 attacks the CIA and our entire intelligence community reorganized to focus on cross-cutting issues such as counterterrorism and nonproliferation. Many brave men and women put their lives on the line each day to protect the United States, and their sacrifices should be honored and not disparaged or politicized by our nation’s leaders.
“The next CIA Director should embrace the rule of law, transparency, and accountability as we strive to uphold the Constitution and our laws while keeping Americans safe. Rep. Pompeo’s previous positions, statements, and testimony before the committee leave me with grave concerns whether he is the right person for this job. In particular, he has opposed the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility and criticized the transfer of detainees to other nations. He has supported passage of a law re-establishing bulk collection of innocent Americans’ personal information, and would make it even more egregious by combining it with financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database. On the issue of torture, he stated that he would examine whether the Army Field Manual – which bans the use of torture and restricts the use of enhanced interrogation techniques – is an ‘impediment’ to greater intelligence collection. Rep. Pompeo aggressively criticized the release of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s torture report.
“The CIA, as with all of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, must always act within the bounds of the law and Constitution, most especially during times of war or terrorism. As President Obama’s report to Congress last week made clear once again, keeping the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay open is contrary to our values, makes America less safe, serves as a terrorist recruiting tool, harms our partnerships with our allies, and wastes American taxpayer money. The Republican-controlled Congress has unfortunately made it more difficult to close GTMO and try terrorism suspects in our federal civilian court system. I believe that the positions embraced by Rep. Pompeo while in the House of Representatives will leave our country more vulnerable and they leave me questioning his ability to recognize policies that will harm American interests, undermine the rule of law, and make it harder to work with our allies. I therefore will vote to oppose the nomination of Rep. Pompeo to be the next CIA Director.”