Pompeo at State Would Send a Bad Message Globally

Maybe not the right man for the job.

Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

At 5:44 a.m. Tuesday morning, President Trump tweeted, “Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State.” Unfortunately, both the choice and the tweet send the wrong message to the rest of the world about how the U.S. plans to conduct itself at home and abroad.

First, choosing someone from the CIA for the post suggests that the State Department will pursue its goals using the kinds of tools wielded by the intelligence community — like spycraft and subterfuge — rather than through traditional diplomacy. Foreign governments will likely be especially concerned that Pompeo has a record of advocating the use of dubious measures abroad.

For example, as a congressman, Pompeo argued that “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by the intelligence agency in terrorism investigations were legal, even though Human Rights Watch describes them as “forms of torture” which were previously prohibited under international and U.S. law. (During his confirmation hearing to become CIA director, he later said he would refuse to bring back the techniques.) Pompeo also supported the continuation of secret “black site” prisons abroad, where such techniques were used on suspected terrorists who were held without charges.