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At This Hour

Confirmation Hearing Of Trump's CIA Chief Nominee. Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired January 12, 2017 - 11:00   ET


MIKE POMPEO, NOMINEE FOR CIA DIRECTOR: Third, the effects of dislocation and poor governance present critical challenge but also new targets and opportunities for the CIA's collection and analysis.

And finally, the insider threat problem has grown exponentially in the digital age. The greatest threats to America have always been the CIA's top priorities. It will be the CIA's mission and my own if confirmed to ensure that the agency remains the best in the world at its core mission, collecting what our enemies do not want us to know.

In short, the CIA must be the world's premier espionage organization. One of emerging area for increased focus is the cyber domain. Sophisticated adversaries like China and Russia as well as less sophisticated adversaries like Iran and North Korea, terrorist groups, criminal organizations and hackers, are all taking advantage of this new borderless environment.

The CIA must continue to be at the forefront of this issue. As the president-elect has made clear, one of my top priorities if confirmed is to assist in the defeat of ISIS. We must maintain an aggressive counterterrorism posture and address manifestations of this great threat beyond ISIS and al Qaeda.

With respect to Iran, we must be rigorously objective in assessing the progress made under the joint plan of action. While I opposed the Iran deal, as a member of Congress, if confirmed, my role will change. I will lead the agency to aggressively pursue collection operations and ensure analysts have the time, political space, and resources to make objective and sound judgments.

Similarly, it's a policy decision with respect to how we will deal with Russia. But it will be essential that the agency provide policymakers with accurate, timely, robust, and complete intelligence and clear-eyed analyst of Russian activities to the greatest extent feasible.

As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I fully appreciate the need for transparency and support from members of Congress. I've lived it. We owe it to our constituents to get to the bottom of intelligence failures.

But we owe it to the brave Americans of the intelligence community not to shirk our responsibility when unauthorized disclosures to the media exposed controversial intelligence activities or when Edward Snowden, from the comfort of his Moscow safe house, misleads the American people about intelligence activities.

On my first visit to CIA headquarters just a few years ago, I visited an analytical targeting cell. Some of you have probably done this as well. I saw a woman who appeared as though she had not slept for weeks. She was pouring over data on her computer screen.

I introduced myself and asked her what she was working on and she said she was just hours away from solving a riddle, to locate a particularly bad character she had been pursuing for months. She had her mission, its completion would make America safer. She was a true patriot.

In the past few years, I've come to know there are countless men and women just like her at this agency working to crush our adversaries. This past weekend, I took a moment and visited Arlington National Cemetery. I've done this many times.

But on this visit I paid special attention to the markers that commemorate CIA officers who have perished ensuring our freedom. In so many places most Americans will never know, agents put themselves and their lives at risk.

We know the sacrifices of the families of each of these CIA officers from our role performing intelligence. Those families sacrificed greatly as well. As I walked among these heroes, I was reminded of the sacred trust that will be granted to me if I am confirmed, I will never fail it.

I'm honored to have been nominated to lead the finest intelligence agency the world has ever known working to keep safe the people of the greatest nation in the history of civilization. If confirmed, I will be sworn to defend the U.S. Constitution for the third time in my life.

First as a soldier, then as a member of the House of Representatives, and now to work with the president and each of you to keep America safe. Thank you all for the opportunity to speak with you this morning. I look forward to your questions.

SENATOR RICHARD BURR (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Mr. Pompeo, thank you for your testimony this morning. For members, we will recognize based upon seniority for five minutes of questions. I would note for members there is a closed session of this hearing that will start promptly at 1 p.m.

I would remind members we're in open session and that questions for Representative Pompeo today, in this session, should be limited to those that can be discussed and answered in open session. And I trust that if you ask something that can't, the witness will make sure that he answers it when we get to closed session.

With that, Mike, I'm certain that from your experience on HPSII and specifically your involvement in the House Select Committee on Benghazi investigation, you understand how valuable intelligence can be to oversight. [11:05:03]If asked by the committee, will you provide the raw intelligence and sourcing behind agency finished products and assessments if in fact this committee needs it to complete its job?

POMPEO: Senator, I have been on the other side of this, and I know how central it is to make sure you have all that you need to perform your oversight function for intelligence collection activities in all that the agency does.

You have my commitment that I will always do everything I can to make sure I get you the information you need, including an expanded set of information.

I understand on a handful of issues you've reached agreement, I heard Director Clapper testify before you, I believe it was last week, it may have been the beginning of this week, and I promise to honor the commitment that Director Clapper made to this committee.

BURR: Thank you for that. There's been much discussion about the role of the Central Intelligence Agency and what it played in the detention and interrogation of terrorism suspects as part of the RDI program.

These detention facilities operated by the CIA have long since been closed. President Obama officially ended the program seven years ago. I think the debate space on this subject has become confused and I'm certain that the law is very, very clear.

Do you agree it would require a change in law for the CIA or any government agency to lawfully employ any interrogation techniques beyond those defined in the army field manual?


BURR: You've been an outspoken critic in the past of policy and activities of this administration that you disagreed with in line with representing the people of the fourth district of Kansas.

As head of the CIA, you'll be in a position to speak truth to power and provide the president with your agency's unbiased, unvarnished, and best assessment of threats facing our nation, assessments that will inform his approach to those very policies and activities that you may have criticized in the past.

Will you be able to set politics aside and provide the president with clear-eyed assessments free of political interference?

POMPEO: Senator, I appreciate the question. And when I say that, I understand deeply the question that you're asking. I've spent my life telling the truth, sometimes in very, very difficult situations as a lieutenant, as a member of Congress, in fact as a member of the Oversight Committee.

Where sometimes we get placed in difficult situations talking to our constituents about things that matter an awful lot for American national security and sometimes we just can't reveal. You have my commitment that every day I will not only speak truth to power.

But I will demand that the men and women who I have come to know well over these past few years who live their lives doing just that will be willing, able, and follow my instructions to do that each and every day.

BURR: Thank you for that, Vice Chairman?

SENATOR MARK WARNER (D), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And again, Congressman, it's great to see you. To ensure that we don't end up with a light turnout again, I won't redo my second half of my statement.

But I do want to put you on the record, Mike, on a couple of issues that we had discussed particularly about this inquiry into Russian active measures. And I want to also reiterate the chairman's comments of the absolute necessity to make sure that you bring forward this analysis in an unvarnished way.

I think you've made that clear to the chairman, I know you've made that clear to me on a private basis. So we can go through some of these questions fairly quickly. Do you accept the conclusions of the IC regarding Russian's actions?

POMPEO: Senator Warner, I do. I've had one briefing. I attended the meeting at which the president-elect was briefed. Everything I've seen suggests to me that the report has an analytical product that is sound.

WARNER: Do you pledge to cooperate with the SSCI's Russia inquiry and to provide and make possible all necessary materials and access to personnel if needed?

POMPEO: Senator Warner, I do, I think that's incredibly important.

WARNER: Do you pledge to continue to pursue your own investigation into ongoing Russian active measures and any attempts they or others may have to undermine the United States, our political system, or our position in the world?

POMPEO: Senator, I do. Indeed I would expect that the president- elect would demand that of me. It is fully my intention. I should share -- that's my view with respect to all the product that the central intelligence agency produces.

We learn, we continue to develop intelligence, if we're worth our salt, we will continue to gain insights that are valuable to policymakers, both the president-elect and you all. I will continue to pursue foreign intelligence collection with vigor no matter where the facts lead.

WARNER: Congressman, I have been critical of the tenor of some of the president-elect's comments about the workforce and the professionalism of the IC.

[11:10:11]In your opening statement you were very eloquent about the one that had been without sleep for some time. In light of some of those comments, I have concerns about the morale throughout the IC, but particularly at the CIA at this point.

What plans will you have to go in and reassure the people who work at the CIA, how do we make sure in a world where it's increasingly challenging, to get people to step up and serve, both in terms of recruitment and retention, that we can -- you can reaffirm that you will have the CIA employees' backs?

POMPEO: Senator, let me begin by saying, I am confident that the Central Intelligence Agency will play a role for this administration that it has for every previous administration, as providing powerful intelligence that shapes policy and decision making inside this administration.

I am confident that President-elect trump will not only accept that but demand that from the men and women not only at the CIA, but throughout all of the 17 intelligence communities. With respect to me personally, I have come to understand the value of the Central Intelligence Agency.

I have seen their morale through tough times where they have been challenged before and I have watched them walk through fire to make sure they did their jobs in a professional way and that they were always aimed at getting the truth in depth in a robust way to policymakers.

I have every confidence that not only will I demand that, but they will continue to do that under my leadership if I am confirmed.

WARNER: I think it's going to be an ongoing challenge. If you're confirmed, I wish you the best and think that is critically important. I see many of these CIA employees, I have the opportunity to represent them. They live in the Commonwealth of Virginia. They work in this region.

It's been a challenging time for them. In light of some of the comments during the campaign the president-elect made, I think a subset of that, of this issue, as well as making sure going forward the CIA represents the diversity of the world particularly in terms of Muslim-Americans being engaged, how do we reassure them in light of the comments made?

And I concur with you that the challenge of ISIL is an enormous one, how would you go forward to make sure that our Muslim allies, in our fight against ISIL, that they'll continue to have a strong partner in the United States and not one that is going to in any way discriminate based on faith?

POMPEO: Senator, it's absolutely imperative. We have a workforce at the agency that is incredibly diverse. As you well know, in order to achieve our mission we have to have folks from a broad background sense as well as with language skills that represents all parts of the world so that we can perform our intelligence operations properly.

And we have partners in the Muslim world that provide us intelligence and who we share with in ways that are incredibly important to keeping America safe. I am counting on and I know you all are as well, that these liaison partnerships will continue to be additive to American national security.

You have my commitment that our workforce will continue to be diverse. I hope we can even expand that further so that we can perform our incredibly important intelligence collection operations all around the world.

WARNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, I've had a considerable amount of time with Mike over the years and recently. I'm going to -- we're on a short string here. I'm going to reserve my questions until we get to the closed hearing portion of the hearing. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Feinstein.

SENATOR DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Thanks very much, Mr. Chairman. I just want to begin by saying I really appreciate the private meeting we had an opportunity to have. For me it was a clarification. I do appreciate your apology. I take it with the sincerity with which you gave it.

I want to ask one follow-up question to what the chairman asked, and that's dealing with those enhanced interrogation techniques. And that is that if you were ordered by the president to restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the Army Field Manual, would you comply?

POMPEO: Senator, absolutely not. Moreover, I can't imagine that I would be asked that by the president-elect or then president. But to be very clear, I voted for the change that put the Army Field Manual in place. As a member of Congress, I understand that law very, very quickly. I'm also deeply aware that any changes to that will come through the Congress and the president.

FEINSTEIN: And regular order.

POMPEO: And regular order, yes, Ma'am, absolutely, with respect to the outlines of what's in the Army Field Manual, there's no doubt in my mind about the limitations it places not only on the DOD, but on the Central Intelligence Agency. I'll always comply with the law.

FEINSTEIN: Another question. How will you handle the president- elect's refutation of the intelligence community's high assessments that Russian intelligence units.

[11:15:09]Namely the GRU and the FSB, did in fact hack and spearfish into the campaigns and parties of both political parties this past campaign season?

POMPEO: Senator, as with -- I think I answered Senator Warner the same way. My obligation as director of the CIA is to tell every policymaker as best the intelligence agency has developed them. With respect to this report in particular, it's pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy.

I'm very clear-eyed about what that intelligence report says and I have every expectation as we continue to develop the facts, I will relay those not only to the president, but to the team around him and to you all so that we can all have a robust discussion about how to take on what is an enormous threat from cyber.

I think you all know that you all have lived it. This is very real. It is growing. It is not new in that sense, but this was an aggressive action taken by the senior leadership inside of Russia. And America has an obligation and the CIA has a part of that obligation to protect that information.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much. I appreciate that.

POMPEO: Thank you, Senator. If I may say, thank you too for coming back today and I hope your recovery is very, very speedy.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you, I appreciate that. You and I discussed Director Brennan's beginning efforts on modernization of the CIA and trying to set up a different mechanism which would make it more effective. What can you tell us today about how you would proceed in that direction?

POMPEO: Senator Feinstein, there was a major modernization program that frankly is still in the shakeout cruise at the agency. It's been going on for a while, but still lots of things to work through. My observations from my time as a member of Congress are their goals were noble and they were trying to get to the right place.

In fact many of the changes that were made may well end up making sense. But I think I have an obligation as I go in to evaluate that, share those evaluations with you. I've heard from a number of you about its effectiveness, some of you have a set of views that are opposed, you may not even know that about each other yet.

But I'm going to take a look. My expectation is from my time as a small businessperson, when you make a change of this scope and scale, you don't get everything right in that. My obligation is to try and make sure we've got everything right, that there are clear lines of decision making authority and that the analytic product that's coming out is true and clear and real.

FEINSTEIN: Just one last question, you mentioned the Iranian what we call the JPOA. I think whatever one thinks of the settlement in its entirety, under this Iran has shipped some 25,000 pounds of enriched uranium out of the country. It's dismantled and removed two-thirds of its centrifuges.

It's removed the calandrea (ph) from its heavy water reactor and filled it with concrete and it's provided unprecedented access to its nuclear facilities and supply chain. Iran's estimated breakout time has moved from two to three months to a year or more. In November, on Fox News, you said you can't think of a single good thing that's come from the Iran nuclear deal, not one. Now, thus far the CIA has provided oversight to this committee with very solid analysis of what the level of compliance is, and thus far, it has been extraordinarily positive.

I would like you to comment on this because, and particularly your comments, because this nuclear deal is in effect just that. It doesn't include other things that are bad things that Iran has done. It's just the nuclear agreement and they have in fact conformed to it thus far. So would you comment, please?

POMPEO: Yes, Senator. First, you have my commitment that we -- if I am confirmed at the agency, will continue to evaluate their compliance with the agreement in the way you just described the agency has been doing to date. I concur with you that work has been good and robust and that intelligence I think important to policymakers as they make decisions.

I think my comments were referring to the post-January 2016 rampage of Iranian increased activity and I know you share my concern about that as well. So when I was speaking to the risks that Iran presents, it was certainly from those activities, whether it's the fact that they've now had -- we now have missiles that we've had to fire back at into Yemen, the list is long, they're still holding Americans in Iran.

[11:20:13]Those were the concerns that I was addressing that day. You have my commitment as the director of the CIA if I'm confirmed that we will continue to provide you the intelligence to understand both what's taking place in the nuclear arena with respect to the JCPOA and its compliance as well as activities that are outside of that.

FEINSTEIN: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Rubio.

SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Pompeo, thank you first of all for your service to our country repeatedly, in the Army, in Congress, and now here in this new role. I know we're going to have a closed hearing later today.

So the questions I'm about to ask you, I ask that you answer based on open source information available to the general public and also your understanding of the law of war as a graduate of West Point and your services as an officer in the U.S. Army.

First of all, your understanding as an officer of the U.S. Army, is military targeting of civilians a violation of the law of war?

POMPEO: Senator, intentional targeting the civilians is absolutely a violation of the law of war.

RUBIO: Based on open sources and information available to the general public and the conflict in Aleppo, Syria, have Russian forces conducted repeated attacks against civilian targets. POMPEO: Based on open source reporting, it appears that they have.

RUBIO: Do you believe based on your knowledge, again, acquired through open sources and your just general knowledge of geopolitics, that Russian military forces could conduct a repeated attack against targets in Aleppo, Syria, without the express direction of Vladimir Putin?

POMPEO: It seems intensely unlikely to me, Senator.

RUBIO: And again, all of the answers you just gave are based on open sources, unclassified?

POMPEO: Yes, sir.

RUBIO: OK. The second question I have is, and I think you've already said you accept this as a fact, that there is indeed an effort by Russian intelligence and others associated with the Russian government to conduct a campaign of active measures in the United States designed to sow doubt about the credibility of our elections and our democracy, to sow divisions and chaos in our politics, to undermine the credibility of political leaders and the like.

Do you agree with that assessment that we are in the throes of an active measures campaign that probably predates this campaign but certainly has ratcheted up?

POMPEO: Yes, Senator. It's a longstanding effort of the Russians and frankly there are others out there engaged in this set of activities, a threat that we are vulnerable to today.

RUBIO: In fact it is the exact activity they've undertaken, for example, in Europe and other countries as well that we've seen the same sort of pattern in other places, correct?

POMPEO: Yes, Senator. I'll add to that, we have elections, important elections taking place in the year ahead in Europe, and around the world, and we need to be deeply cognizant of all of the foreign actors with malign intent who are attempting to impact those elections as well.

I think the CIA has a role in trying to understand that threat in a deep and fundamental way and sharing that with each and every member of the policy making community.

RUBIO: Again, I'm not asking you to rely on any intelligence or classified information. In your judgment, as you see the state of American politics and the political discourse, a president-elect who has questioned at times the judgment of our intelligence agencies, opponents to the president-elect who continuously question the legitimacy of his election, the shameful leak in the media regarding unsubstantiated, unsourced information designed to smear the president-elect.

The fact that Russia and Vladimir Putin have become a dominant theme in political coverage in this country for the better part of three months if not longer, as you look at all of that, in your personal opinion, is Vladimir Putin and the Russians looking at all this and saying, we've done a really good job of creating chaos, division, instability, in the American political process?

POMPEO: Senator, you put a lot into that, but let me try and unpack it just a touch. I certainly want to make sure I talk only about my observations and judgments based on unclassified information --

RUBIO: Yes, sir.

POMPEO: -- but I have no doubt that the discourse that's been taking place is something that Vladimir Putin would look at and say, wow, that was among the objectives that I had, to sow doubt among the American political community, to suggest somehow that American democracy was not unique.

I believe it is fundamentally unique and special around the world. It shouldn't surprise any of us at all that the leadership inside of Russia views this as something that might well redound to their benefit.

RUBIO: And my last question involves an area that you may not get asked by anybody else on the committee, you might, but regarding the western hemisphere. I ask if you will pledge to work in your agency to ensure that collection and coverage of the western hemisphere, in particular nations like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Bolivia, that we focus on threats that may emanate from those places.

[11:25:10]POMPEO: Yes.

RUBIO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

BURR: Senator Wyden.

SENATOR RON WYDEN (D), OREGON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, Congressman, for coming to visit. At a time when the president-elect is on record supporting torture, blocking Americans' ability to protect themselves with strong encryption, and has encouraged the outsourcing of intelligence gathering to the Russians, it's my view you're going to have an enormous challenge to be an advocate for honorable policies.

It's already clear that several key members of the president-elect's national security team advocate illegal policies. So this morning, my view is we need to find out what you're for. And I'm just going to tick through some of the issues we talked about in the office.

Let's start with surveillance, if we could. You recently wrote an op- ed article saying that Congress ought to pass a new law reestablishing collection of all metadata. Those are your words, all metadata. So you would basically get the Congress and the country back into the business of collecting millions and millions of phone records on law abiding people.

You go on in this op-ed article to say that these phone records ought to be combined with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive searchable database. So you would be in favor of a new law collecting all of this data about the personal lives of our people. And I think it would be helpful if you could start by saying, are there any boundaries in your view to something this sweeping?

POMPEO: Senator, you and I did have a chance to discuss this. There are of course boundaries to this. First and foremost, they begin with legal boundaries that exist today. That piece that I was referring to was talking about the U.S. government's obligation to do all that it can in a lawful, constitutional manner to collect foreign intelligence important to keeping America safe.

WYDEN: Congressman, that's not what you were talking about. You said collecting all metadata.

POMPEO: Yes, Senator.

WYDEN: All metadata.

POMPEO: If I might just continue. Yes, I still continue to stand behind the commitment to keep Americans safe, by conducting lawful intelligence collection. When I was referring to metadata there I was talking about the metadata program that the USA Freedom Act has now changed in fundamental ways. I, you should recall, voted for the USA Freedom Act. And I understand its restrictions. Its restrictions on efforts by all of the U.S. government to collect information.

WYDEN: You wrote this op-ed since the passage of the law. So after the law passed, you said let's get back into the business of collecting all of this metadata. And I'm curious what kind of information about finances and lifestyles would you not enter into your idea of this giant database.

POMPEO: Senator, first of all, I have to begin by saying, today that would be -- in most instances what you referred to there would be unlawful under current law. As the director of the CIA you have my assurance we will not engage in unlawful activity.

But I think this committee, the American people, demand that if there is publicly available information, someone has out there on a public available site, we have an obligation to use that information to keep Americans safe.

If someone is out there on their Facebook page talking about an attack or plotting an attack against America, I think you would find the director of the CIA and intelligence community grossly negligent if they didn't pursue that information.

WYDEN: Congressman, I don't take a back seat to anybody in terms of protecting this country when our security is on the line. I wrote the section in the Freedom Act that gives the government emergency authority to move when it's critical to protect the country.

That's not what we're talking about here. You're talking about your interest in setting up a whole new metadata collection system, which is far more sweeping than anything the Congress has been looking at. And if you would, before we vote, I would like you to furnish in writing what kind of limits you think there ought to be on something like this.

Let me see if I can get in one more question. The president-elect had indicated an Apple issue that --