CIA Director Mike Pompeo touted a ‘more aggressive’ Central Intelligence Agency at a session at CIA headquarters Tuesday night, using coded language to throw some shade at his predecessor.
“We are back in the business of stealing secrets,” Pompeo boasted.
Pompeo’s comments, made to a small group of reporters and reported by Politico, came the same day as John Brennan, who served as CIA chief under President Obama, testified before Congress, which is investigating allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with the Russian government to tamper with last year’s election.
Brennan, an Obama appointee, recalled that he became “concerned” last summer when the CIA learned about multiple contacts between Trump’s associates and Russian operatives. He said he recommended the FBI probe, but stopped short of alleging collusion. “It should be clear to everyone Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process,” Brennan told the lawmakers.
Former CIA officers found Brennan’s comments laughable. ‘Is he joking?’ ex-spy John Sipher wrote in a column for his website, the Cipher Brief, according to NBC News.
Sipher and other former CIA officials said stealing secrets is ‘job one’ overseas.
Another retired CIA officer, John Maguire, told NBC News that Brennan’s comments ‘make the U.S. look dumb.’
‘Every aspect of what the CIA does overseas is illegal,’ Maguire said. ‘We don’t “solicit” secrets – we steal them. What does he call breaking into an embassy? It’s absurd on its face.’
On the other hand, Pompeo explained Tuesday that the CIA would be pushing in a different direction.
‘The president has put in place a set of requirements that will require the CIA to be more aggressive,’ Pompeo said.
One example that he used was North Korea, nicknamed the ‘Hermit Kingdom,’ which has already caused problems for the young Trump administration.
Trump recently ordered the deployment of an aircraft carrier group and two nuclear submarines to waters off the coast of the Korean Peninsula as a show of American force.
The CIA will be creating a special mission control and will work alongside South Korean counterparts, announced by Pompeo.
Pompeo is one of a number of American officials, which also included Vice President Mike Pence, to visit South Korea since January.