John Sifton, Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW) writes on why Mike Pompeo is not suitable for US Secretary of State, including his problematic views on LGBTQ people.
The nomination of Mike Pompeo to be US secretary of state has prompted powerful opposition from human rights groups because of his past support for CIA interrogation methods that amount to torture, his support for mass surveillance practices and his highly problematic views on the rights of Muslims, women, and LGBTQ people. His nomination hearing on April 12 did little to assuage concerns about his record, as Pompeo did not so much deny his past positions as avoid endorsing them.
On Monday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted along party lines to give Pompeo’s nomination a favorable recommendation and send it to the full Senate for a vote. But that result was in doubt until the last minutes, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) reversed himself and announced his support for Pompeo. And even some of the other Republicans voting for him had voiced misgivings about his record on matters raised at his hearing.
There is a less visible issue, however, that was not discussed at that hearing but which should be weighed as the full Senate considers him: the impact of having a former CIA director lead the State Department. In particular, the impact on the State Department’s credibility for promoting human rights and supporting independent organizations abroad.
For decades, the State Department has administered funding programs to support organizations promoting democracy, women’s rights and media freedom, as well as health service providers, schools, and groups defusing land mines, fighting trafficking or advancing sports and cultural exchanges. […]
The department today focuses on assisting front-line defenders of human rights and supporting the rule of law, good governance and transparency, mainly by dispersing hundreds of millions of dollars of humanitarian and development assistance and grants to independent groups, lawyer’s associations, and independent media.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration lacks the credibility to defend these programs. Under President Donald Trump, the US reputation for promoting human rights has been greatly compromised, as he has openly supported autocratic rulers like the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, complimented China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin on their fabricated ‘elections,’ and made statements that denigrate core human rights standards and the rule of law. […]
Senators who care about whether the US government can support independent voices internationally — and maintain a foreign policy that is genuinely committed to promoting human rights abroad — should reject Pompeo’s nomination. The US government’s credibility on these counts is already in dire straits. Having a former CIA director as secretary of state will only make things worse.
Asia Advocacy Director for Human Rights Watch (HRW)
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