Mike Pompeo thinks Edward Snowden should be put to death. When Mike Pompeo was just a hawkish Republican Congressman from Kansas, that was a relatively harmless opinion to have, but in a few short months Pompeo might be getting a promotion. To the director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Which has drones. And spies. And assassins. And pretty much free reign to do whatever it wants in almost every country in the world.
On Friday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he had chosen Republican Kansas Representative Mike Pompeo as his preferred candidate for CIA director. In 1986, Pompeo graduated first in his class at West Point and went on to serve as an officer in the Army for five years. In 2016, as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Pompeo said on C-SPAN that he thought the “traitor” Edward Snowden should be brought back to the United States and executed.
“He should be brought back from Russia and given due process, and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence,” Pompeo said in February.
To be fair to Pompeo, he did say “due process” in there — but since 9/11, due process has been proven to have been ignored by the CIA. Under the Bush Jr. and Obama regimes, the CIA has drastically stepped up a battle plan of manhunts, targeted killings, drone strikes, and even cyber attacks.
Fortunately, Pompeo’s coworkers say he’s a reasonably receptive dude. House Intelligence Committee member Adam Schiff (a Democrat, for what it’s worth) told the New York Times that Pompeo was “bright and hard working,” and “someone who is willing to listen and engage, both key qualities in a C.I.A. director,” which would be reassuring except that hanging out on the House Intelligence Community is not in any way similar to running the CIA.
By historical standards, Pompeo is certainly qualified for the job, unlike Trump’s openly Islamophobic national security advisor and his attorney general candidate that was once considered too racist to be a federal judge.
At this point, Snowden’s best chance at well, staying alive, is probably to hope that Pompeo remembers the whole “due process” part of his recommendation of the death penalty, and doesn’t let the whole “unparalleled access to clandestine operations and methods of extrajudicial murder” thing go to his head while he leads the CIA.
Pompeo still has to be approved by the Senate, but considering Republicans hold a 54-44 majority (with two Independents usually chilling on the blue side), that shouldn’t be a problem.
Since leaking a massive trove of NSA documents revealing the U.S. Government’s mass surveillance of its own citizens to Wikileaks, Snowden has essentially been crashing on Vladimir Putin’s couch in the Russian Federation (who is also totally chill with morally questionable intrusions of privacy. He was pretty safe from extradition there during the Obama Administration, but considering Trump’s cozy relationship with the Russian President, it’s not inconceivable that Putin would sling EddieLeaks back to the U.S. for trial, or just into the hands of Mike Pompeo’s CIA.
Keep your head down, Ed, and watch out for drones.