By Allison Shockley, Franklin & Marshall College.
We’re already stuck with Donald Trump for president, could it get much worse? My answer is an unfortunate and unequivocal yes. He has recently sworn in a former Kansas-representative, Mike Pompeo, to be the new Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).
Up until January 23rd, Mike Pompeo was the House Representative for the 4th district of Kansas, which includes Wichita, where I am from, and the surrounding cities. During this time, he was on the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Subcommittee on the CIA, as well as the House Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack on Benghazi. He gained Trump’s attention by openly criticizing Hillary Clinton for what he deemed as her mishandling of the Benghazi attacks and by condemning Obama as indecisive and lacking the appropriate respect he believed necessary for military leaders.
Pompeo is a member of the Tea Party movement within the Republican party and holds very “right wing” beliefs, including being pro-guns and anti-abortion. However, his beliefs on national security—the most relevant ones, as he is now CIA director—are unequivocally detrimental to our human rights as a nation.
He supports the surveillance programs of the National Security Agency (NSA), and even believes that it should be made easier to spy on individuals. He believes that impediments to governmental surveillance should be eradicated, including the Presidential Policy Directive-28, which imparts privacy rights to foreigners and forces the NSA to provide sufficient information to justify data collection. Moreover, he believes that the controversial whistleblower Edward Snowden, who released classified information detailing various international surveillance programs, should receive the death penalty.
Additionally, Pompeo has repeatedly made remarks deemed irresponsible, and even false, by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. For example, he stated that Muslim leaders who do not condemn terrorist attacks done in the name of Islam are “potentially complicit” in the attacks.
However, Pompeo’s beliefs on torture are potentially the most dangerous. He has repeatedly condemned the Obama administration for requiring interrogators to adhere to anti-torture laws. He believes that these should be more lenient, allowing harsher, crueler methods. Additionally, he criticized the administration for closing the CIA’s secret prisons, which did not adhere to common laws for federal prisons. The prisoners’ basic human rights could be abused because no one even realized that these people existed.
Moreover, he refuses to close the “household” of some of the biggest violations of human rights: the Guantánamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. This military prison detains more than forty inmates—reduced by the Obama Administration from more than 200—indefinitely and without trial. While Obama pushed to close this camp (meeting Republican opposition), Pompeo seeks to expand the prison and withhold more terrorist suspects and affiliates, pleasing the Republicans which own majorities in both the House and the Senate.
Guantánamo Bay is rife with suicides and suicide attempts, caused by torture. There have been six successful and 41 unsuccessful attempts, although defense lawyers claim that there have been more. Journalists, Red Cross inspectors and former guards have verified outrageous claims of torture, including solitary confinement, prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, loud noises/music, and their own defecation/urine, forced positions, waterboarding, beatings, sleep deprivation, as well as sexual and cultural humiliation. Moreover, military physicians would often tell interrogators about their supposedly-confidential medical information, such as weaknesses or phobias, causing many of them to refuse medical care altogether.
Knowing all of this, both Trump and Pompeo still support the base. Trump even claims that he will bring back waterboarding as a form of torture, because it works and they deserve it. He clearly chose Pompeo for a reason.
From his overwhelming support of invasive, unmonitored surveillance to his belief in the necessity of extreme torture, Mike Pompeo as the CIA director is a dangerous man who should not be tolerated. With him, our country will plunge into an era of underground torment in secret prisons, destroying human beings and desecrating both the law and human rights. And while the CIA tortures prisoners to the point of attempting suicide, off the record of course, every minute of the lives of ordinary citizens will be recorded.
We cannot accept this trampling of our human rights. Stand against Mike Pompeo!
(Pompeo’s CIA Must Not Backslide into Torture, Amnesty International. http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/press-releases/pompeo-s-cia-must-not-backslide-into-torture)
(US: Reject Pompeo for CIA Director, Human Rights Watch, https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/21/us-reject-pompeo-cia-director)
(Time for a Rigorous National Debate about Surveillance. Pompeo, M., & Rivkin, D. B. The Wall Street Journal, http://www.wsj.com/articles/time-for-a-rigorous-national-debate-about-surveillance-1451856106)
(GOP Lawmaker: US Muslim leaders ‘complicit’ in terrorist attacks. Kasperowicz, P. The Hill. http://thehill.com/video/house/304743-gop-lawmaker-silence-on-terror-attacks-makes-islamic-leaders-potentially-complicit)
(Faces of Guantánamo, Center for Constitutional Rights, http://ccrjustice.org/sites/default/files/assets/files/report_FacesOfGuantanamo.pdf)
(Guantánamo’s Long Shadow. Lewis, A. The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/21/opinion/guantanamos-long-shadow.html)
(Most of Rep. Mike Pompeo’s campaign contributions coming from PACs. Lowry, B. The Wichita Eagle. http://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article27445807.html)