(ANTIMEDIA Op-ed) Any remnants of the notion that Donald Trump is an enemy of the Deep State and ruling establishment were put to rest over the last two weeks as CIA Director Mike Pompeo echoed the Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric and proudly bragged about having the president’s support, passionately advocating the use of “aggressive” and “vicious” tactics.
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On Thursday, Pompeo spoke at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies forum, sounding the alarm on North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. Though he distinguished between the county’s capacity to produce a single weapon versus an entire arsenal, he stressed the need to halt the country’s weapons’ ambitions altogether (like Trump and the media, he ignored the reality the North Korea has expressed its openness to negotiation).
Pompeo also stressed the need for Pakistan to aid in the fight against the Taliban, which has thrived in Afghanistan despite the U.S.’ military presence there for sixteen years and previous troop increases.
More telling, however, were Pompeo’s remarks at the University of Texas-Austin last week when he spoke bluntly about the aggressive power he believes the CIA should wield.
The CIA published the prepared remarks in full.
Opening with the topic of “espionage,” which Pompeo described as “the art and science of running assets and stealing secrets,” he stressed that this was the core of the agency’s activities and asserted it was all done in the name “of collecting foreign intelligence to keep America safe. Period. Full stop.”
After establishing the necessity of espionage (a practice the CIA has bungled in the past), he shared his particularly disturbing perspective on the CIA’s approach to ‘keeping America safe’:
“The second thing you must know is that the CIA, to be successful, must be aggressive, vicious, unforgiving, relentless — you pick the word. We must every minute be focused on crushing our enemies and providing unfair advantage for our diplomats, our military and our president.”
Pompeo not only insisted that the CIA’s success depends on aggression and viciousness but he also openly advocated American exceptionalism to the extent that he was willing to create an unfair advantage, which implies breaking rules or subverting justice to get ahead. This statement came in a speech where he also claimed the CIA adheres to the constitution, plays by the rules, and serves a country rooted in “deeply moral” values.
Despite these platitudes, on Thursday, Pompeo expressed his intention to further radicalize the CIA:
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) October 19, 2017
“We’re going to become a much more vicious agency,” he said.
It is not immediately clear how the CIA could possibly be more vicious than it has since its inception, toppling democratically elected governments; installing brutal dictators; imposing ‘vicious’ torture techniques against captives not charged with crimes; infiltrating the news media to manipulate the American public’s perception of reality; forcing mind-altering drugs on innocent people to learn how to control them; infiltrating domestic activist movements (including black rights and anti-war groups); importing Nazi scientists; and arming radicals in schemes that ultimately put the United States in more danger.
Pompeo appeared to justify his opinion that the CIA must be more ruthless with his perception that the agency acts “with a sense of duty, purpose, and righteous resolve,” claiming last week “we’re a lot more effective because of it.”
While speaking in Texas, he also focused in on a longstanding CIA tradition — demonizing Iran.
In keeping with the CIA’s subversion of the Iranian government — its very first mission was toppling the country’s democratically elected leader and reinstalling an autocratic monarch — Pompeo attempted to demonstrate the agency’s moral righteousness by calling out the Middle Eastern country’s Revolutionary Guard. Claiming their purpose is to “perpetuate tyranny,” Pompeo claimed Iran is the largest state-sponsor of terrorism in the world.
In 2017, there is little debate over whether Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, is repressive (as Pompeo claims Iran is) and a source of radical, extremist ideology that contributes to the spread of terrorism. There is also evidence to suggest the Arab government funds ISIS. Though Iran’s oppressive regime undoubtedly supports some terror groups, these practices are eclipsed by the Saudis’. Further, in addition to supporting the Saudis’ radical, autocratic regime, the U.S. (the CIA in particular) is directly responsible for the Iranian government it claims supports terrorism; that government rose to power amid the 1979 revolution that rejected the CIA-installed Shah.
Nevertheless, Pompeo’s vilification of Iran served to justify his belief that “[W]hen espionage is done right—when it’s most successful—it’s inherently aggressive, relentless, and risky,” he also claimed.
He also enthusiastically praised Donald Trump, boasting that “whenever we’ve discussed the challenges the Agency is facing, he has given us what we need, whether it’s funding, authorities, or policy guidance.”
Despite some Trump supporters’ misguided beliefs he would be an “anti-war” president, he has continued wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of civilians, saber rattled against North Korea and Iran (to his ‘credit,’ he has long-criticized Iran), advocated regime change in Syria, and given free reign to the military to conduct its operations.
Though Trump expressed brief opposition to the agency when it circulated narratives about Russia’s role in the election, it is clear the president amounts to nothing more than a cog in the establishment’s machine — like every other president before him.
In fact, in the Trump era, it appears the CIA will continue its longstanding business as usual, wielding brutal tactics and selling them to the public as vital to keeping them safe.
Tellingly, for all of Pompeo’s talk of American principle and morality, he never once mentioned freedom — opting instead to fearmonger and offer security.