Many Americans are familiar with Mike Pompeo since his appointments at the CIA, and now as the United States Secretary of State. Most don’t know much more about who he is, what he’s done, and what he represents.
In this series, Mouth for War, we’ve looked at two of the biggest warmongers in modern history, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams. But they are not alone. In fact, they have quite the supporting cast with most of their funding coming from the same groups. In this, the third piece in the series, we’re going to take a look at who Mike Pompeo is and what he’s done in his career.
Pompeo, a Tea Party Republican, served in the U.S. House of Representatives for Kansas’ 4th congressional district from 2011 to 2017. He was nominated by Donald Trump as Secretary of State and later confirmed by the Senate on April 2018. Prior to that, Trump appointed him as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) where he maintained that position for over a year.
Pompeo’s ties to the Koch Brothers and The Heritage Foundation run deep. His early business career was bolstered by capital from Witchita’s Koch Venture Capital, a division of Koch Industries. Pompeo’s company, Thayer Aerospace, was founded by him and three other West Point alumni. After Thayer was later sold Mike Pompeo went on to become the President of Sentry International – another Koch Industries company that specializes in the manufacturing and sale of oilfield equipment.
During his run for election to the House – representing Kansas’ 4th congressional district – Koch Industries was his largest contributor through KOCHPAC. At the time, his only political experience was as a trustee of the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy, a Koch-organized front formerly known as the Kansas Policy Institute.
Pompeo is also well known for leaning on Americans for Prosperity (AFP), the far-right Tea Party group founded and financed by David Koch. Pompeo has done many speaking engagements on behalf of the group to help mobilize right-wing groups. AFP has touted Pompeo many times for signing onto its pledge to ignore climate change.
After being nominated by Donald Trump and subsequently confirmed by the Senate as Director of the CIA, Pompeo would challenge many of the United States’ current policies at home and abroad. After honoring Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince with the CIA’s George Tenet award, he quickly moved to invoke executive privilege to prevent CIA officers from being compelled to testify in the trial of Bruce Jessen and James Elmer Mitchell – two psychologists who helped run the CIA’s harsh interrogation program.
As head of the CIA, Pompeo appointed Brian Bulatao – a former business partner at Thayer Aerospace – as the Number 3 official at the CIA. A job that has traditionally been filled by career intelligence officers and is not subject to Senate confirmation. The position is responsible for the internal workings of the CIA.
In June 2017, Pompeo named Michael “Dark Prince” D’Andrea as head of the CIA’s Iran mission center. This move not only solidified Donald Trump’s hard-line stance against Iran, but it also put in place someone who knows how to provoke a war. He is well versed in CIA clandestine operations and ran the drone program that killed scores of civilians.
Later that same year, Pompeo took direct control of the Counterintelligence Mission Center – the department that helped launch an investigation in possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials. Several former CIA directors expressed concerns over Pompeo since he is known to be an ally of Donald Trump.
Since becoming Secretary of State, Pompeo has taken the position of backing Saudi Arabia in its genocidal war in Yemen. Making no mention of Saudi-led airstrikes that have targeted civilians on many occasions, including an airstrike that hit a school bus killing dozens of children. Pompeo began to blame Iran for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen instead of Saudi Arabia. Pompeo then backed continued U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen over the objections of staff members – after being warned that a cutoff could jeopardize $2 billion in weapons sales to America’s Gulf allies.
In November 2018, a CIA assessment was leaked to the media with “high confidence” that Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman ordered the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post journalist. Lawmakers who wanted to act against Saudi Arabia began putting pressure on Pompeo. Pompeo instead disputed the CIA’s conclusion declaring that there was no direct evidence linking the Crown Prince to the assassination.
Pompeo began a diplomatic trip to the Middle East in January 2019. The trip was to reassure regional U.S. partners that the sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria did not change the mission of destroying the Islamic State or to counter Iranian influence in the region. The trip’s main focus was to uphold the alliance with the Arab States and Israel while taking early steps to ensure a coalition was built in the event a war with Iran would break out.
In the same month, Pompeo declared that Juan Guaido would be recognized by the United States as the legitimate interim President of Venezuela.
While Mike Pompeo may not be in the same league as John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, he harbors the same ideologies and now plays the role of facilitator for them. War propagandists like Bolton and Abrams need their front-man to help make the case for war. Pompeo has the ability and the power of his position to talk to neighboring countries about going to war in any given region.
And he’s good at what he does.