CIA director rips Assange, defends foreign surveillance

In his first public remarks as CIA director, Mike Pompeo defended the work of the agency -- and condemned Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former intel contractor Edward Snowden for undermining the CIA and national security.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
 

CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

In his first public remarks as head of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo slammed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, defended the agency's foreign surveillance work and said he intends to review the agency's recent reorganization.

"We steal secrets from foreign adversaries, hostile entities and terrorist organizations," Pompeo said at a discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "And we make no apologies for doing so. It's hard stuff and we go at it hard."

Pompeo said he could not comment on the specifics of the recent WikiLeaks "Vault 7" release of alleged CIA hacking tools, but stated that Assange and Edward Snowden have aided terrorists around the world who are now better able to evade detection by the CIA and other agencies.

"It is time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is – a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," said Pompeo.

The director said the theft of government intelligence highlights the need to harden systems and develop better counterintelligence measures against insider threats.

"We can never truly eliminate the threat but we can mitigate and manage it," he said. "This relies on agility and on dynamic 'defense in depth.' It depends on a fundamental change in how we address digital problems, understanding that best practices have to evolve in real time."

Pompeo said it will be a long-term project, "but the strides we have taken -- particularly the rapid and tireless response of our Directorate of Digital Innovation -- give us grounds for optimism."

The director stressed that the work of the digital directorate is essential to keep the U.S. at the forefront of technology and to stay ahead of adversaries like Iran and China.

He said the CIA is focused on hiring talented people and working to adapt commercial technology that advances the agency's ability to be more predictive.

"I have reinforced lots of efforts in that very vein," he said. "There's some really good math, there's some really interesting work that's being done in the sciences to give us better capacity to do that. What's a challenge is to make that applicable in the tactical and operational environments that we often work.

The digital directorate has come under criticism in the wake of the Vault 7 leak. One former CIA official said recently that the directorate was stood up too quickly and was disorganized, which increased the odds of a data theft by an insider.

Pompeo said that in the private sector, it can take multiple tries to successfully reform a business and get to the right structure, and he wants to make sure the CIA is properly organized.

"These are continuing processes," he said. "When you're operating in agile space, organizational structure changes to meet the evolving set of threats and I certainly intend to make sure that the agency gets to the right place so that we can meet those threats."

In addition, he argued that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence -- an agency that has faced much criticism and speculation about its future -- needs review as well.

"A once-a-decade scrub of the structure of the intelligence community might seem to me at least like a useful undertaking," he said.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.