The CIA Director is under “watch” by staffers who fear he is handing over classified secrets to the White House for political reasons but that’s not the only thing for which Mike Pompeo needs to answer.
Since their son’s death, Judy and Dennis Shepard have advocated tirelessly for LGBTQ equality. In October 1998, Matthew Shepard accepted a ride home with two men, also in their 20’s, he met at a local bar in Laramie, Wyoming. Instead of taking him home, the two men drove Matthew to a nearby rural road where they pistol-whipped and tortured him. They tied the 21-year-old to a fence and left him there in a coma. Matthew died six days later in hospital from severe head trauma. The ensuing court case revealed Shepard was killed because he was gay in a brutal hate crime – the first to expose America to a deep-seated homophobia coarsing through the heartland.
Matthew’s death gave Judy Shepard a mission: to give his life meaning and a voice. She started a foundation and still tours the country in support of LGBTQ issues. “I’m here today because I lost my son to hate…. No one has the right to tell my son whether or not he can work anywhere. Whether or not he can live wherever he wants to live and whether or not he can be with the one person he loves — no one has that right. We are all Americans. We are all equal Americans, gay, straight or whatever,” she told thousands at an equality march in Washington, D.C. in 2009 soon after meeting President Obama at the White House.
The Shepards were invited to tell their story and advocate for LGBTQ issues at a Pride Month event at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virgina in July this year. As the couple were preparing for the speech, the event was abruptly canceled. “The schedule was set, and the details arranged, but in the 11th hour, the senior leadership shut down the event. The seventh floor, where the director’s office sits, had the Shepards’ speech canceled, questioning what value it would bring to the CIA mission,” three sources told Foreign Policy.
The cancellation appears to have come directly from CIA Director Mike Pompeo and is seen as a sign within the agency Pompeo is attempting to change the diverse culture of the organization and its famously apolitical role. “More white, more male, more Jesus,” according to Foreign Policy.
The 53-year-old West Point graduate has been an opponent of LGBTQ rights, abortion and environmental protection for years. In 2010, Pompeo supported to reinstating discrimination against gays within the military saying: “when you enter the army you give up a few of your rights”. Five years later he decried the Supreme Court ruling granting marriage equality in all 50 states as “a shocking abuse of power” which “flies in the face of centuries of shared understanding of our Constitution”. He’s also consulted for the anti-gay hate group Family Research Council.
“I will continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions,” Pompeo promised after the SCOTUS ruling in 2015 and when he arrived at Langley in January, he began to do just that. The director privately snubbed the notion of diversity. Instead he’s spent his energy on creating a CIA chaplaincy, decrying Islam and proclaiming “Jesus Christ is our savior is truly the only solution for our world.”
Pompeo’s stance on equality at the Agency is particularly troubling because of its symmetry with Moscow’s policy on gay rights. After Vladimir Putin enacted anti-gay laws in Russia in 2013, crushing Pride events and turning a blind eye to hate crimes in Russia, President Obama ordered the State Department to begin advocating for LGBTQ rights in its mission to support universal human rights. The move irritated Putin.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo publicized Wikileaks hacks of the DNC during the election.
During the 2016 election campaign, Pompeo briefly flirted with Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fl) before endorsing Donald Trump for president. His support was repaid with the Langley appointment but almost immediately officials began to be wary of Pompeo’s disregard for Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Pompeo’s support for Trump extended to publicizing the Wikileaks release of Russian-hacked DNC e-mails on Twitter: “Need further proof that the fix was in from Pres. Obama on down? BUSTED: 19,252 Emails from DNC Leaked by Wikileaks,” he tweeted. Pompeo testified at his nomination hearing: “I never believed that WikiLeaks was a credible source of information”. He has come full circle since becoming CIA Director labeling Julian Assange’s organization “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia” in a move largely believed to be an attempt to prosecute leakers.
In the run-up to the November election, Pompeo briefed then VP nominee Mike Pence on Iran and Libya in preparation for the debates. The two men knew each other from their days in the House of Representatives and they share ties to various conservative groups including to the aforementioned anti-gay hate group Family Research Council.
After the election, Pence became chairman of the Trump transition and recruited Pompeo to the CIA. It’s worth noting that Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was Pence’s vice-chair at the time Pompeo was recruited. Pompeo also consulted with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) before taking the role.
Pompeo recoils at the notion of the unprecedented Russian interference in last year’s election becoming “testy” and reciting “talking points that seem designed to appease a president,” according to the Washington Post. Russian meddling in the 2016 election “is true and the one before that, and the one before that,” Pompeo told a conference in Aspen, Colorado, undermining agency consensus that Russia significantly stepped up its interference efforts in 2016.
The CIA Director is under “watch” by CIA officials for sharing information with the White House.
At Langley, the director has raised the suspicions of staffers by bringing the CIA’s Counterintelligence Mission Center (CMC) under his direct report. The unit works closely with the FBI and is actively involved in the Trump-Russia investigation. The real concern is “that if you were passing on something too dicey [to Pompeo] he would go to the White House with it,” an official told the Washington Post. CIA guidelines expressly forbid sharing information with the White House for the purpose of affecting the political process in the United States.
Pompeo spends several hours a day at the White House and briefed former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn even after the Justice Department had indicated Flynn was compromised by the Kremlin. “People have to watch [Pompeo]. It’s almost as if he can’t resist the impulse to be political,” a source told the Washington Post.
On March 22, Trump asked Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to stay behind after an intelligence briefing. The DNI Director let it be known Trump leaned on him to intervene in the FBI’s investigation of Flynn. Pompeo refused to comment about the meeting but it puts him “in the room” for a critical event in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice investigation into Comey’s firing.
Pompeo led a mission to Moscow in May for talks with Russian intelligence officials. While details of the meeting are scant, the CIA director’s visit is being mentioned in the context of a series of meetings discussing a Putin proposal for an abrupt normalization of relations with the United States. The efforts included discussing foreign flash points in the relationship with Russia like Ukraine, Afghanistan, North Korea and Iran but did not include Russia’s attack on the U.S. elections or Putin’s iron grip on his country.
On Afghanistan in particular, Pompeo has been supportive of a plan put forward by Mercenary Erik Prince to privatize the war in Afghanistan.
Pompeo’s role in the Trump-Russia scandal is now under scrutiny.
When Pompeo and staffers walk into the CIA headquarters in Langley, they are greeted by a Biblical verse carved into marble which serves as the agency’s motto. “And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free” (John 8:32). The motto seems increasingly at odds with the actions of its director.
Pompeo seems likley to become a central figure Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He briefed Flynn and other White House staffers even after Flynn was outed as being compromised by the Russians. He was in the room when Trump pressed Coats to intervene in the Flynn investigation. CIA officials are also warning he may be handing over secrets to the White House in contravention of CIA guidelines. If those secrets are being relayed to our adversaries (as has been the practice by the White House), this would raise another serious question about the director’s allegiance to the agency and its apolitical mission.
Pompeo’s secret ‘detente’ diplomacy to Russia and his anti-LGBT campaign within CIA also seems to fulfill Moscow’s foreign policy wishes. Serious questions need to be asked about whether Pompeo is living up to the CIA’s mission but also whether he’s at least a witness, if not a person of interest, in the investigation of Robert Mueller.
The truth is the very least the service men and women of the CIA deserve, as do Judy and Dennis Shepard who should know why the story of their son’s murder does not add value to the agency’s mission.