CIA Director Mike Pompeo makes his debut remarks at CSIS
After Presidential Inauguration on 20th Jan 2017, CIA Director makes his first public appearance at a think tank - CSIS:
Important Addendum: On a closing weekday, before Easter weekend, CIA Director came out with his debonair of a ruling knight of one of the prestigious intelligence agencies of the world. His popularity could be gauged that people were standing in corridors listening to speakers placed all over the building. And few anxious who did not get a seat to sit, were seen sitting on the floor tweeting #CSISLive or noting points with their pen - his debut remarks as CIA Director, a much awaited event in Washington DC on April 13th , Thursday.
President CSIS - John Hamre:
We’re very honored that Director Pompeo has chosen to come. When his people called and said he wants to come on Thursday afternoon before Easter weekend, I said, what the hell? Who is going to come to this, you know? (Laughter.) And lots of people are here, obviously, because this is an enormous opportunity to hear the director. We’re very privileged to have him here.
I would say that we’re very fortunate as a country that Director Pompeo is willing to serve at this time. His life has been about service. He was the highest-ranking cadet at West Point when he graduated from West Point, and his entire life, career has been about service. He’s been in and out of government and private sector. Fortunately, at this hour he’s willing to serve all of us as the director of the CIA.
Would you please, with your warm applause, welcome Director Pompeo? (Applause.)
1st Public Remarks at Center for Strategic and Intelligence Studies:
CIA DIRECTOR MIKE POMPEO: Well, good afternoon, everyone. Thank you all for coming to join me. I did pick this place. It’s a very special place, and I wanted to thank CSIS for hosting me today. I’m honored to make one of the first public remarks I have made in now 10-plus weeks as the director of the CIA. Ten weeks. I know everything now. I’ve got it all figured out. (Laughter.) You laughed appropriately there. That’s great.
Two, I want to say to – we have Bill Webster here. Godspeed. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it very much. (Applause.) It’s an – it’s an honor being in front of you. I’m a little bit nervous. So, here we go.
So I thought I’d start today by telling you a story about a bright, well-educated young man. He was described as industrious, intelligent, and likeable, if inclined towards a little impulsiveness and impatience. At some point, he became disillusioned with intelligence work, and angry at his government. He left the government and decided to devote himself to what he regarded as public advocacy: exposing the intelligence officers and operations that he had sworn to keep secret. He appealed to agency employees to send him leads, tips, suggestions. He wrote in a widely-circulated bulletin quote “We are particularly anxious to receive – and anonymously, if you desire – copies of U.S. diplomatic lists and U.S. embassy staff,” end of quote.
That man was Philip Agee, one of the founding members of the magazine CounterSpy, which in its first issue, in 1973, called for the exposure of the CIA undercover operatives overseas. In its September 1974 issue, CounterSpy publicly identified Richard Welch as the CIA station chief in Athens. Later, Richard’s home address and phone number were outed in the press, in Greece. In December 1975, Richard and his wife were returning home from a Christmas party in Athens. When he got out of his car to open the gate in front of his house, Richard Welch was assassinated by a Greek terrorist cell.
At the time of his death, Richard was the highest-ranking CIA officer killed in the line of duty. He had led a rich and honorable life – one that is celebrated with a star on the agency’s memorial wall. He’s buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and has remained dearly remembered by his family and colleagues.
Meanwhile, Philip Agee propped up his dwindling celebrity with an occasional stunt, including a Playboy interview. He eventually settled down as the privileged guest of an authoritarian regime – one that would have put him in front of a firing squad without a second thought had he betrayed its secrets instead of ours.
Today, there are still plenty of Philip Agees in the world, and the harm they inflict on U.S. institutions and personnel is just as serious today as it was back then. They don’t come from the intelligence community, they don’t all share the same background, or use precisely the same tactics as Agee, but they are soulmates. Like him, they choose to see themselves under a romantic light as heroes above the law, saviors of our free and open society. They cling to this fiction even though their disclosures often inflict irreparable harm on both individuals and democratic governments, pleasing despots along the way.
The one thing they don’t share with Agee is the need for a publisher. All they require now is a smartphone and internet access. In today’s digital environment, they can disseminate stolen U.S. secrets instantly around the globe to terrorists, dictators, hackers and anyone else seeking to do us harm.
Our nation’s first line of defense against complicated and fast-moving threats likes these is the U.S. intelligence community. I feel deeply privileged, and still, frankly, a bit amazed, that as CIA director I get to be a part of this great group of men and women. I’m the son of a machinist from Orange County, California. I’d never been east of the Mississippi River before college, spending most of my summers working in Winfield, Kansas, on the family farm. To be entrusted with leading the greatest intelligence organization in the world is something I can’t still wrap my head around. And just as I did at West Point, I feel that I stand on the shoulders of giants atop a long tradition of courage, ingenuity, and dedication.
After I was nominated for this post by President Trump, I talked with nearly every living director. They spoke about the need to call things as you see them, and of the apolitical nature of the job. Above all, though, they spoke about the admiration they had for their time with this workforce. And for what I’ve seen so far, their assessment was spot on. I’m surrounded by talented, committed patriots. These are men and women who signed up for a life of discretion and impact, for a career in service to their country. These officers, like me, have sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. They’ve signed secrecy agreements. They quietly go about their work and try not to get too worked up over the headlines, including the fanciful notion that they spy on their fellow citizens via microwave ovens. (Laughter.)
But they’re not at liberty to stand up to these false narratives and explain our mission to the American people. But fortunately, I am. In my first meeting with the CIA’s workforce, I promised I would serve them and the American people, both home and abroad, with the same passionate vigor that I displayed as a tank platoon leader, as a business owner, and then as a member of Congress representing the 4th District of Kansas.
And that’s why I’m here today. As a policy, the CIA does not comment on the accuracy of purported intelligence documents posted online. In keeping with that policy, I will not specifically comment on the authenticity or providence of recent disclosures. But the false narratives that increasingly define our public discourse cannot be ignored. There are fictions out there that demean and distort the work and achievements of the CIA and the intelligence community more broadly. And in the absence of a vocal rebuttal, these voices, ones that proclaim treason to be public advocacy, gain a gravity that they do not deserve. It’s time to call these voices out. The men and women of the CIA deserve a real defense, as does our nation. I intend to do that today.
First and foremost, we should know that the intelligence organizations engage solely in foreign espionage. We steal secrets from our foreign adversaries, hostile entities and terrorist organizations. And we’re damn proud of it. We analyze this intelligence so that our government can better understand our adversaries that we face in a challenging and dangerous world. We’ll make no apologies for that. It’s hard stuff, and we go at it hard. Because when it comes to overseas threats, the CIA’s aggressive in our pursuit of information we need to help safeguard our country. We utilize our whole toolkit, fully employing the authorities/capabilities that Congress, the courts and the executive branch have provided to us consistent with our American ideals.
We do these things because it’s our job. It’s what we signed up to do. It’s what our president needs. And if we didn’t have a tough time justifying our budget to the American taxpayers, that too would be inappropriate. As the CEO of a security research firm recently noted, the CIA appears to be – CIA appears to be doing exactly what we pay them to do: exploit specific targets with limited attacks to support America’s national interests.
Now, our mission is simple in concept, yet incredibly difficult in practice. I’ve seen that in just the few short weeks. We work to provide the best information possible to the president and his administration so they can advance our national interests and protect our country. It’s a mission that the CIA has carried out for years, quietly and effectively. Accomplishments often remain classified and secret, but a few special ones are known to the world. The CIA was a crucial player in the global campaign against nuclear proliferation, and continues to be today. We helped unravel the nuclear smuggling network used by AQ Khan, assisted in exposing a covert nuclear facility in Syria, and gathered intelligence with the help of partners that persuaded Libya to abandon its nuclear program.
We’ve also been on the cutting edge of technological innovation throughout our history. The CIA led efforts to develop to the U2 aircraft and orbiting satellites – endeavors that allowed us to surveil activities in rival states that were closed to us. We’ve pushed the boundaries of the possible in ways that have benefited both security and the welfare of the American public.
More recently, CIA investment and technology venture in 2003 led to the development of what we know today as Google Earth. My first few months on the job have only reaffirmed for me that this innovative spirit and can-do attitude are much alive and well.
Most important clarification by CIA Director:
So now I’d like to talk about what the CIA does NOT do.
We’re a foreign intelligence agency. We focus on collecting information about foreign governments, foreign terrorist organizations, and the like – not Americans. A number of specific rules keep us centered on that mission and protect the privacy of our fellow Americans.
---- >To take just one important example, CIA’s legally prohibited from spying on people through electronic surveillance in the United States. We’re not tapping anyone’s phone in my hometown of Wichita.
Now, I know they’ll always be skeptics, and we need to build trust with them. But I also know firsthand from what I saw as a member of a congressional oversight committee, and from what I see now as the director, the CIA takes its legal restrictions and responsibilities with the utmost seriousness. We have stringent regulations, an engaged and robust Office of the General Counsel, and an empowered independent Office of Inspector General to make sure of that.
Moreover, regardless of what you see on the silver screen, we do not pursue covert action on a whim and without the approval or accountability. There’s a comprehensive process that starts with the president, consists of many levels of legal and policy review. Let me assure you: When it comes to covert action, there is oversight and accountability every step of the way. And I inherited an agency that has deep respect for the rule of law and the Constitution. It’s embedded in the very fiber of the people that work at the CIA.
And despite fictional depictions meant to sell books or box-office tickets, we are not an untethered or rogue agency. And so while we have some truly – excuse me – some truly awesome capabilities at our disposal, our officers do not operate in areas or against targets that are rightfully and legally off-limits.
At our core, we’re an organization committed to uncovering the truth and getting it right. We devote ourselves to protecting our trade. We work hard to maintain truly global coverage. We spend hours upon hours collecting information and poring over datas and reports.
And we also admit when we make a mistake. In fact, because the CIA is accountable to a free and open society we help defend, the times in which we have failed to live up to high standards of our fellow citizens have been cataloged well over the years, even by our own government. These mistakes are public. They’re public to an extent that I doubt any other nation could ever match. But it’s always our intention and our duty to get it right.
And that’s one of the reasons we at CIA find the celebration of entities like WikiLeaks to be both perplexing and deeply troubling because while we do our best to quietly collect information on those who pose very real threats to our country, individuals such as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden seek to use that information to make a name for themselves. As long as they make a splash, they care nothing about the lives they put at risk or the damage they cause to national security.
WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence. It directed Chelsea Manning in her theft of specific secret information. And it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States while seeking support from anti-democratic countries and organizations. It’s time to call our WikiLeaks for what it really is, a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia. In January of this year our intelligence community determined that Russian military intelligence, the GRU, had used WikiLeaks to release data of U.S. victims that the GRU had obtained through cyber operations against the Democratic National Committee. And the report also found that Russia’s primary propaganda outlet, RT, has actively collaborated with WikiLeaks.
Now, for those of you who read the editorial page of The Washington Post, and I have a feeling many of you do, yesterday you would’ve seen a piece of sophistry penned by Mr. Assange. You would’ve read a convoluted mass of words wherein Assange compares himself to Thomas Jefferson, Dwight Eisenhower and the Pulitzer Prize-winning work of legitimate news organizations such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Assange claims to harbor an overwhelming admiration for both America and the idea of America. But I assure you, this man knows nothing of America and our ideals. He knows nothing of our third president, whose clarion call for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness continue to inspire us and the world. And he knows nothing of our 34thpresident, a hero from my very own Kansas who helped liberate Europe from fascists and guided America through the early years of the Cold War.
No, I’m quite confident that had Assange been around in the ’30s and the ’40s and the ’50s, he would’ve found himself on the wrong side of history. We know this because Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy. But in reality, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. They currently is click-bait, their moral compass nonexistent, their mission personal self-aggrandizement through destruction of Western values. They do not care about the causes of the people they claim to represent. If they did, they would focus instead on autocratic regimes in this world that actually suppress free speech and dissent. Instead, they choose to exploit the legitimate secrets of democratic governments, which has so far proven to be a much safer approach than provoking a tyrant.
Clearly, these individuals are not especially burdened by conscience. We know this, for example, because Assange has been more than cavalier in disclosing the personal information of scores of innocent citizens around the globe. We know this because the damage they have done to the security and safety of the free world is tangible. The examples are numerous. When Snowden absconded to the comfortable clutches of Russian intelligence, his treachery directly harmed a wide range of U.S. intelligence and military operations. Despite what he claims, he was no whistleblower. True whistleblowers use well-established and discreet processes in place to voice grievances. They do not put American lives at risk. In fact, a colleague of ours at the National Security Agency recently explained that more than a thousand foreign targets, people, groups and organizations, more than a thousand of them tried to change how they communicated as a direct result of Snowden’s disclosures. That’s a staggering number.
Bottom line is that it became harder for U.S. intelligence to keep Americans safe. It became harder to monitor communications of terrorist organizations that are bent on bringing bloodshed to our shores. Snowden’s disclosures helped these groups find ways to hide themselves in crowded digital forests.
And even in those cases where we’re able to regain our ability to collect, the damage has already been done. We work in a business with budgetary and time constraints. The effort to get back access we had previously possessed meant that we had less time to look at new threats.
And as for Assange, his actions have attracted a devoted following among some of our most determined enemies. Following the recent WikiLeaks disclosure, an al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula member posted a comment online thanking WikiLeaks for providing a means to fight America in a way that AQAP had not previously envisioned. AQAP represents one of the most serious threats to our country and around the world today. It’s a group that is devoted not only to bringing down civil passenger planes but our way of life as well. That Assange is the darling of these terrorists is nothing short of reprehensible. Have no doubt that the disclosures in recent years caused harm, great harm, to our nation’s national security, and they will continue to do so for the long term.
They also threaten the trust we’ve developed with our foreign partners when that trust is crucial currency among allies. They risk damaging morale for the good officers at the intelligence community and who take the high road every day. And I can’t stress enough how these disclosures have severely hindered our ability to keep you all safe.
No, Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended America’s First Amendment freedom shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they’re wrong. Assange is a narcissist who has created nothing of value. He relies on the dirty work of others to make himself famous. He’s a fraud, a coward hiding behind a screen. And in Kansas, we know something about wizards hiding behind screens. (Laughter.)
But I’m not the only one who knows who Julian Assange really is. Even those who often benefit from Assange’s leaks have called him out for his overblown statements. The Intercept, which has in the past gleefully reported unauthorized disclosures, accuse WikiLeaks in late March of, quote, stretching the facts in its comments about the CIA. In the same article, The Intercept added that the documents, quote, were not worth the concern WikiLeaks generated by its public comments.
So we all face a crucial question: What can we do about this? What can and should the CIA, the broader intelligence community and the United States and our allies do about this unprecedented challenge posed by these hostile non-state intelligence agencies? There is no quick fix, nothing foolproof, no instant cure. But there are steps we can take to undercut the danger.
First, the days like today where we call out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.
Second, there are steps that we have to take at home. In fact, this is a process that we have already started. We’ve got to strengthen our own systems, secure of our own stuff. We’ve got to proof our internal mechanisms that help us on our counterintelligence mission. And all of us in the IC had a wakeup call after Snowden’s treachery. Unfortunately, the threat has not abated. And while I can’t go into detail about the exact steps, I can assure you our defenses will not be static. Our approach to security must be constantly evolving, and we will. We need to be as clever and innovative as the enemies we face because they will not relent, and we will not either. We can’t truly eliminate the threat, but we can mitigate and manage it. And this relies on a defense in depth, which we are preparing. It depends on a fundamental change in how we address digital problems, understanding best practices that evolve in real time.
Third, we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us. To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now.
And finally, and perhaps most importantly, we need to deepen the trust between the intelligence community and the citizens that we aim to protect. And CIA can assure you that we’re committed to earning that very trust every day. We know that we can never take it for granted. We must continue to be as open as possible with the American people.
As the CIA director, it is my sworn duty to uphold the Constitution and defend our national security. And as somebody who practiced law, built businesses and ran for public office to represent my neighbors and fellow citizens, I understand why nobody should have to blindly place their trust in government.
Granted, the intelligence arena can never be as transparent as other parts of our government. Secrecy is essential to the tasks that we undertake. But we can do better than we have. And even if we can’t share everything with the American people, we can share it with the president they elected and with the Congress that oversees our work.
Having served on that committee myself, I am a CIA director who fully understands the imperative for oversight. Doing right by the American people is as important to me as carrying out our agency’s mission. And I’ll hold all of our officers to the same standards.
The men and women I work with at Langley are patriots, and I’m honored beyond imagination to lead them. They have my trust. They have my faith. And as long as I am lucky enough to have the best job in the world, I promise you that the CIA will be tireless in our mission to keep America safe.
CIA Director carried a bipartisan appeal with representatives from both political party praising him. The political science students came a long way to hear his 1st public remarks. With national security issues, a top priority of Trump Administration - a huge crowd was attracted on a closing weekday before Easter Weekend. People were seen standing in the corridor, and some were sitting on floor with pen and paper, jotting down the remarks of CIA Director as he spoke. An important point to be noted was CIA Director spoke of what they do NOT do at CIA, which is highlighted above in blue color.