Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Will the Real Michael Pompeo Please Stand Up

In a January 10th 2020 interview with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the Fox News program  "The Ingraham Angle", we find the following exchange between Ms. Ingraham and Mr. Pompe when asked about the Congressional briefing regarding the Soleimani assassination:
"Laura Ingraham: But Vice President Pence said to reveal more and the compelling intel could have compromised sources and methods Mr. Secretary.  Does that mean that the intel briefers in this administration don't trust Congress with classified information because that's what it sounded like?

Mike Pompeo: We shared an awful lot with them yesterday.  There are things that only certain members of Congress get to hear and I know Senators Lee and Paul care about this a great deal. They want to protect the prerogatives of the legislative branch. They have a view of the War Powers Resolution. I think members of Congress get frustrated by this sometimes. And so this wasn’t political in the Republican, Democrat sense. This was executive, legislative. 

And so I think there are a number of people who are using this as a political axe to grind. I think that’s most unfortunate. There is no doubt that there were a series of imminent attacks that were being plotted by Qasem Soleimani. We don’t know precisely when -- and we don’t know precisely where. 

But it was real…" (my bolds)

So, the all powerful U.S. intelligence community was aware that there was an "imminent" threat yet, according (at least publicly) to Mr. Pompeo, they didn't know when or where the attacks were to take place.

Now, let's look at some comments that he made at a speech on January 13, 2020 entitled "The Restoration of Deterrence: The Iranian Example":

"President Trump and those of us in his national security team are re-establishing deterrence – real deterrence ‒ against the Islamic Republic.  In strategic terms, deterrence simply means persuading the other party that the costs of a specific behavior exceed its benefits.  It requires credibility; indeed, it depends on it.  Your adversary must understand not only do you have the capacity to impose costs but that you are, in fact, willing to do so….

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it perhaps best.  Had we not taken that strike against Qasem Soleimani, our leadership – the recommendation that we made to President Trump – we would have been “culpably negligent” had we not made that recommendation, imposed a significant cost on the regime for their bad decision.

Qasem Soleimani discovered our resolve to defend American lives.

And Iran hit back, and we’re grateful that no lives were lost, and we will never downplay the seriousness of any attack on the United States or its forces.  But judging from the type and intensity of the strike, the regime certainly must now understand what we will do if they ever again pose risk to American lives.  If Iran escalates, we will end it on our terms.

President Trump reinforced that deterrence when he gave a set of remarks this past week.  And these days Iran is making noise about leaving the nuclear deal.  There’s a reason that the President had as his first words in those remarks to the nation that said, quote, “As long as I am President of the United States, – Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.”  That declaration is backed by the most effective deterrence capability in the world." (my bolds)

You will notice that the narrative regarding the necessity of the attack has now switched to one of deterrence rather than one of imminence as was so strongly being pushed immediately after the assassination.

Can we trust Mr. Pompeo?  Let's look back at what Mr. Pompeo had to say at Texas A&M University in April 2019 during a speech entitled "Why Diplomacy Matters" about America's intelligence community, particularly the Central Intelligence Agency:

Let's look at the quote in context as taken from this transcript which is available on the Department of State website:

"So I always begin with a deep understanding that no secretary of state gets through their first day without recognizing it’s a tough world out there. We don’t appreciate how glorious it is to be here in the United States of America on a consistent enough basis and with enough fervor. Maybe you do here at Texas A&M, but I think too many Americans don’t understand how blessed we are. These are – are many, many tough places out there.

Having said that, not all tough places are the same. They each present a different set of challenges. I – it reminds me, you would know this as – it’s a bit of an aside. But in terms of how you think about problem sets, I – when I was a cadet, what’s the first – what’s the cadet motto at West Point? You will not lie, cheat, or steal, or tolerate those who do. I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole. (Laughter.) It’s – it was like – we had entire training courses. (Applause.) It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." (my bolds)

Let's look at one last comment from Mike Pompeo's comments on January 13, 2020:

"...– it is certainly that, having had the privilege to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency for a year and a half – the first year and a half of this administration, I watched these professionals do their level best to get it right every day.  That’s not the – the Intelligence Community makes mistakes all the time, right?  Happens.

But the depth and breadth, the intellect, the capacity and reach of America’s intelligence capability is enormous.  They do their level best to present this accurately.  We do our best, indeed, to translate their products into a situation where we can talk about this publicly.  That is often difficult because we have to preserve the capacity and the resources that were put in place.  We can’t risk them to share something with the American people.  We have to protect them and preserve them because we’ve still got folks in harm’s way even as we sit here today.

But I can say to the American people you should have enormous confidence in the Intelligence Community that their efforts are genuine, they are real, they are authentic, they are trying to provide good datasets to – now I’m on the other side as the policy advisor for the President receiving this intelligence, informing our decision making." (my bolds)

Now, let's look at additional remarks from Mike Pompeo from October 11, 2019 at a speech given to the American Association of Christian Councselors:

"We’re both in very people-intensive lines of work, and we’re both appealing to the hearts and minds to change behaviors.  As believers, we draw on the wisdom of God to help us get it right, to be a force for good in the life of human beings.

Now, I know that even having just said that, I know some people in the media will break out the pitchforks when they hear that I ask God for direction in my work.  (Applause.)  But you should know, as much as I’d like to claim originality, it is not a new idea.  (Laughter.)  I love this quote from President Lincoln.  He said that he – he said, quote, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.”  (Laughter.)

And so with that in mind, I want to use my time today to think about what it means to be a Christian leader, a Christian leader in three areas:

First is disposition.  How is it that one carries oneself in the world?  The second is dialogue, talking.  How is it that we engage with others around the world?  And third is decisions, decisions that we make.  How do we make choices?  Upon what basis?  What do we use as our bedrock to get to those decisions?  These are things that you face in your work every day.  They are issues that the State Department and President Trump, each of us, must face.

And my focus too, to be quite candid, is not just on being a leader.  I learned how to lead at whatever level I’m blessed with during my time at West Point and other experiences, but I want to talk today about being a Christian leader.  I learned that through a very different experience, an experience with God and my own personal faith in Christ.

Like a lot of people – and you don’t have to admit it today – but like a lot of people, I grew up going to church but with a relationship with God that wasn’t especially important for me, because I was destined to be in the NBA.  (Laughter.)  But as I grew older, when I started my time at the United States Military Academy, there were two young men – they were in the class ahead of me – who invited me to a Bible study.  They were very intentional to me in explaining God’s Word.  And after some study and discipleship with them, they helped me begin my walk with Christ...

But back – Susan and I have been – had Christ at the center of our lives.  Back in my church in Wichita I was a deacon.  She and I taught fifth grade Sunday School, which was a great, great lesson for my time as Secretary of State.  (Laughter and Applause.)  But we also saw in that, in our time serving in that, we saw how many challenging issues that you all address every single day….

Scripture calls us to be “transformed by the renewing of [our] minds.”  And so I keep a Bible open on my desk, and I try every morning to try and get in a little bit of time with the Book.  I need my mind renewed with truth each day.  And part of that truth is, as my son reminds me, is to be humble.  Proverbs says, “With the humble is wisdom.”...

We should all remember – we should all remember that we are imperfect servants serving a perfect God who constantly forgives us each and every day.  He keeps using us – (applause) – he keeps using us to do a higher work.  And my work at the State Department, as it is for those who work alongside of me, is to serve America each and every day...

I’ve found this in life – truth telling isn’t just a matter of private conversations for me.  It’s what I try to do publicly as we lay down President Trump’s foreign policy to keep Americans safe and secure." (my bolds)

So, who is the real Mike Pompeo?  To me, it certainly appears that his realness depends on who his audience is and, given his powerful position, that should concern all of us.

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