A man walks across the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at the lobby of the Original Headquarters Building at the CIA headquarters on Feb. 19, 2009 in McLean, Va.
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Trump’s CIA chief nominee ‘can’t imagine’ being asked to torture

When Donald Trump tapped Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) to lead the CIA, civil-liberties proponents howled. As a far-right congressman, Pompeo pushed an aggressively conservative line on issues such as government surveillance, detention facilities, and even torture.

Indeed, when the Senate Intelligence Community released a report in 2014 on Bush-era “enhanced interrogation,” the Kansas Republican not only condemned the document’s publication, but said of the relevant officials, “These men and women are not torturers, they are patriots…. The programs being used were within the law, within the Constitution.”

As his CIA confirmation hearing got underway this morning, however, Pompeo adopted a very different posture. The Hill reported:
Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA on Thursday told lawmakers that he would “absolutely not” comply with an order from the president-elect to resume the use of interrogation techniques considered by the international community to be torture.

“Moreover, I can’t imagine that I would be asked that by the president-elect,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said in response to questions from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)…. Asked if he could commit to senators that the CIA is “out of the enhanced interrogation business,” Pompeo affirmed that, “You have my full commitment.”
First, while the testimony was encouraging, this certainly seems to be a departure from comments the congressman has made in the past.

Second, Pompeo “can’t imagine” being asked by the Trump White House to adopt torture policies? That’s odd – because I find it pretty easy to imagine it.

Remember, Trump went further than any major-party nominee in U.S. history when touting his support for torture during the campaign. As a candidate, he dismissed the Geneva Conventions as “out of date,” vowed to “take out” terrorists’ families, and when asked in February whether or not the United States would “chop off heads” of detainees under Trump’s policy, he didn’t answer directly.

Trump also argued during the GOP primaries that he wanted to torture suspected terrorists even “if it doesn’t work” in producing valuable intelligence, because “they deserve it anyway.”

The Republican not only promised to restore waterboarding practices – Trump called it a “minor form” of torture – he also vowed to bring back “a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.”

If the nominee to lead the CIA “can’t imagine” the incoming president pushing the agency to torture, Pompeo’s imagination is clearly lacking.

CIA, Donald Trump and Torture

Trump's CIA chief nominee 'can't imagine' being asked to torture