Pompeo confirmed as CIA head, Hurd to HPSCI

The Senate voted largely along party lines to confirm Rep. Mike Pompeo as head of the CIA. Rep. Will Hurd, a former CIA agent and cyber expert will replace Pompeo on the House Intelligence Committee.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Rep. Will Hurd R-Texas
 

Former Kansas Republican Congressman Mike Pompeo (left) got the nod from the Senate to head the CIA and former Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas) is taking the open slot on the House Intelligence Committee.

Despite withering criticism from one senator over his views on bulk data collection and torture, former Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The Senate confirmed Pompeo by a 66-32 vote after floor debate dominated by Sen. Ron Wyden, a vocal critic of government surveillance programs. Pompeo was sworn in to head the agency by Vice President Mike Pence shortly thereafter.

Wyden spent more than an hour arguing that Pompeo had not been fully vetted and had not clarified positions on data-collection policies and the use of torture in interrogations.

Pompeo co-authored a January 2016 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that argued the expiration of the Patriot Act and increased restrictions on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act weakened national security.

"Congress should pass a law re-establishing collection of all metadata, and combining it with publicly available financial and lifestyle information into a comprehensive, searchable database," wrote Pompeo.

Wyden and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) pressed Pompeo for clarification about that op-ed and other past comments regarding surveillance and torture in written questions submitted after Pompeo's confirmation hearing.

Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, was one of several Democrats who voted to confirm Pompeo.

"While I do not agree with some of the views he has expressed, Congressman Pompeo has impressed me with his respect for the dedication and impartiality of the intelligence professionals at the CIA," Warner said in a press statement.

Warner also stated he had been reassured that Pompeo would comply with laws banning torture.

Pompeo's confirmation opened up his seat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which will be filled by Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who survived a tough re-election battle in November.

The former CIA officer emerged as a leading expert on cyber and IT during his first term in office. He was recognized by FCW in the 2016 Federal 100 awards for his work as chairman of the IT subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

FCW commended Hurd's work on breach investigations, the encryption debate and IT and acquisition reform. Hurd made a push last year to get the Modernizing Government Technology Act passed, but the bill stalled in the Senate.

"Will is an obvious choice for this committee," said Speaker Paul Ryan in a press release lauding Hurd's appointment to the HPSCI. 

"During his first term in Congress, he was a leader on national security and cybersecurity issues, drawing from his personal experience to help educate his colleagues and shape policy," continued Ryan.

"We are living in a dangerous time when our enemies' tactics, techniques, and procedures are continuously evolving," said Hurd in the same release. "I left an organization I love, and a career I loved and was good at because I believed I could help the intelligence community in a different way.

"It's exciting to be able to use my experience to develop recommendations with my colleagues on the Committee that will prevent terrorist attacks and keep Americans safe," said Hurd.

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