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Excerpt: "Fourteen Senate Democrats joined all but one Senate Republican in confirming Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director on Monday evening, failing a crucial first test of whether Democrats would present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era."

Pompeo at his confirmation hearing on January 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Pompeo at his confirmation hearing on January 12, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

14 Senate Democrats Fall in Line Behind Trump CIA Pick Who Left Door Open to Torture

By Zaid Jilani and Alex Emmons, The Intercept

24 January 17


ourteen Senate Democrats joined all but one Senate Republican in confirming Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new CIA director on Monday evening, failing a crucial first test of whether Democrats would present a united front to defend human rights and civil liberties in the Trump era.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., was the lone member of his party to vote against his confirmation.

Pompeo is a far-right Kansas Republican who has in the past defended CIA officials who engaged in torture, calling them “patriots.” Last week, he left the door open to torture by acknowledging in his written responses to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he would be open to altering a 2015 law prohibiting the government from using techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual.

As a member of Congress, he repeatedly appeared on the radio program hosted by anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney, and has portrayed the war on terror as a conflict between Islam and Christianity. He has also claimed that “Islamic leaders across America [are] potentially complicit” in terrorism because they supposedly don’t speak out against it, which is not true.

While Pompeo’s confirmation was opposed by Human Rights Watch, it netted votes from a variety of Senate Democrats, including the caucus’ leader: Chuck Schumer of New York.

In addition to his stances on torture and Islam, Pompeo has also come under fire for his views on surveillance. In a 2016 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, he attacked a 2015 law that that he voted for, which ended the bulk collection on phone records by the NSA. The op-ed calls on the government to collect “all metadata” and “lifestyle” details on Americans.

The CIA is prohibited by executive order from conducting electronic surveillance inside the United States. But the specific rules and policies governing CIA surveillance are secret and can be reinterpreted without public debate. Despite a push for transparency following the revelations in documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the Obama administration did not declassify a secret legal opinion about the CIA’s collection of financial records. And days before President Trump took office, the Obama administration issued new rules that would allow the CIA to sift through much of the raw data the NSA collects on Americans.

In his confirmation hearing, Pompeo tried to assure Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., that there were “legal boundaries” to compiling dossiers on Americans, but that the government would be “grossly negligent” to ignore “publicly available” information.

On the Senate floor Monday, Wyden called Pompeo “the wrong man for the job.”

“On issue after issue,” Wyden said “the congressman has taken two, three, or four positions, depending on when he says it and who he is talking to. He has done this with surveillance, with torture, with Russia, and a number of other subjects.”

He added: “Congressman Pompeo does not seem familiar with the broad consensus that torture, in addition to being illegal, immoral and contrary to our national values, does not work.”

But Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner, the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said on the floor that although he does “not agree with some of the views that Congressman Pompeo” holds, he “convinced me that he will follow the law banning torture.”

Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA, called the confirmation vote “a clear sign that Congress has not done enough ‘extreme vetting’ of President Trump’s nominees’ views on human rights.” 

She continued: “While Pompeo sailed through his confirmation hearing, his written answers to the Senate contradict his earlier testimony and could lay the groundwork for the agency to return to torture and secret detention. Torture is a war crime and a grave human rights violation.”

The Democrats who voted to confirm Pompeo were:

  • Joe Donnelly of Indiana

  • Dianne Feinstein of California

  • Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire

  • Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota

  • Tim Kaine of Virginia

  • Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota

  • Joe Manchin of West Virginia

  • Claire McCaskill of Missouri

  • Jack Reed of Rhode Island

  • Brian Schatz of Hawaii

  • Chuck Schumer of New York

  • Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire

  • Mark Warner of Virginia

  • Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island

Angus King, the independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, also voted in favor of Pompeo’s confirmation.

Connecticut Democrats Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy did not vote. your social media marketing partner


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+19 # heartofnests 2017-01-24 16:03
Alas. Democracy crumbles in one fell swoop. I suspected Schumer all along. He is a Monsanto boy-toy. Didn't vote for him, never will. Charles Schumbag!
+6 # treerapper 2017-01-25 02:49
Ditto, heartofnests. I lived in his district and I don't think I ever experienced a more spineless, 2-faced excuse for a human. He's a total hawk, completely anti-Palestine and very worried about his public persona so spends a great deal of time bending over and kissing ass. How productive.

What a poor excuse and unfortunate timing for such a pointless individual to be Minority Leader.
+23 # Winston Smith II 2017-01-24 20:03
This is good to know. Torture is a violation of international law and US law. No member of congress should vote for anyone who will not say he will uphold the law.

But then again, the CIA was created as an agency that would break the law. It has been lawless from its inception. Doug Valentine's new book "The CIA as Organized Crime: How Illegal Operations Corrupt America and the World" make the correct case. The CIA is an organized crime syndicate.

And the CIA has been developing torture since the 1950s. A good history of this is "A Question of Torture" by Alfred McCoy.

So what are we to expect. I'm sure members of congress know exactly what the CIA is. That's why they don't challenge the CIA. It is outside and above all laws. .
+6 # tedrey 2017-01-25 07:21
Yes, the attitude towards the CIA in Congress is basically "Yes, it's the Mafia, but it's *our* Mafia."
+6 # sharag 2017-01-25 00:00
This should be no surprise. Capitulation is something these Democrats have grown comfortable with. They will have no problem giving over to a fascist leaning government.
+5 # dotlady 2017-01-25 00:10
So why doesn't the CIA release Trump's tax records which must be among their "financial records."
+9 # Jayceecool 2017-01-25 00:43
This is yet more evidence of deep corruption in the Democratic Party...
+9 # John Puma 2017-01-25 02:29
Where is the mystery?

These confirmation votes should be a basis for lists of "Dems" who desperately need to be primaried in their next re-election bid.
+10 # RLF 2017-01-25 06:13
Schumer and Feinstein...the re you go!
+6 # hectormaria 2017-01-25 09:03
When will Dems realize that Republicans DO NOT RESPECT them. Dems are seen as an inconvenience that they can control because Dems are a bunch of  pusillanimous (or as Trump would say, pussy-llanimous ) legislators that will easily cave, won't do a damn thing because they are weaklings; and, with those  Blue Dogs as allies they can be pushed around.
For example: Right now, Trump and his nominees, along with his Republican cronies  are playing the 'good cop-bad cop' routine and everyone is falling for it. An example of the 'gutless thinking' that is ongoing is provided by the nomination process: if they reject this nominee then Trump may send them a worse nominee next time; they do not say, let's fight now and next time he will think twice about whom he nominates. If the former is the case, then Dems should be ready to fight the new nomination with more vigor and play hardball- it is the only way to deal with Trump and the Republican Party bullies. But no, it is easier to talk tough while carrying a white flag so: WHO IS WINNING? By the time gullible Dems, and Americans, catch on to their Machiavellian machinations, the country will have been taken to the proverbial cleaners.
+10 # Jegrinnan 2017-01-25 09:14
disgraceful, cowardly performance by these craven Democrats. Dread to contemplate what will happen Trump nominates his far right choice for the Supreme Court.
+9 # ywsf 2017-01-25 09:30
Diane Feinstein was ALWAYS considered a fox in the hen house in san francisco. she's a pretend democrat, always voting for what the republicans want. her husbands company got a $600 million dollar war contract when we went into Iraq. She's an embarrassment.
+3 # Saberoff 2017-01-25 11:41
Things were rather shakey there for a while, what with all that frantic hussle for over a year, about an election.

Of course there was never any reason for concern; there never really is.

Things are right on schedule for The New American Century, and The Fourth Reich. I thought for a moment those Bolshevik's had a chance, until our Party stepped up, and showed the world what they're really made of!
+4 # LionMousePudding 2017-01-25 11:42
Cowards and turncoats.

A pic upon them all.
+5 # Shelbey 2017-01-25 12:54
This article did not articulate whether or not their "no" votes would have made a difference. Either way, they should have staunchly opposed the confirmation. If he does violate the law in the future, it's not like these "Democrats" will have any power to hold him accountable. Let's hold THEM accountable and primary them all.
0 # Gordon Berry 2017-01-25 18:46
We all knew blue-dog Donnelly (Indiana) is a traitor to democracy.He should know he won't win in 2018 without help from center and leftist democrats (and women).
0 # Femihumanist 2017-01-25 21:55
One of the few things on which I can agree with Trump: I believe WikiLeaks more than the CIA. I don't get to vote for the Wiki people, I'm less concerned that the Director of CIA than the other Agencies.

The new appointee can't be much worse for the CIA than the past ones are.

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