Donald Trump

Domestic Surveillance Fan Pompeo Confirmed as CIA Head

Sen. Rand Paul the sole GOP opposition.


Ron Sachs/CNP / Polaris/Newscom

By a Senate vote of 66 to 32, Republican Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo has been confirmed to take over as director of the CIA.

Pompeo represents the pro-surveillance wing of the Republican Party. Though he voted in favor of the USA Freedom Act that restricted some federal intelligence agency access to massive amounts of metadata about Americans' communications, he has openly advocated for unrestricted information access and pushed just last year to open bulk data collection back up. He also, like President Donald Trump, has said that surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden is a traitor and should be treated as such.

One Republican voted against Pompeo's nomination—Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky. Several establishment Democrats also voted in favor of Pompeo, such as Dianne Feinstein of California, Chuck Schumer of New York, and Hillary Clinton's vice president choice Tim Kaine of Virginia. It's a useful reminder that there are a significant number of pro-security Democrats who favor federal authority to access data over the privacy of the citizenry.

Paul turned to Rare to explain his "no" vote:

In addition, many in Congress support a comprehensive, searchable database equipped with "public" data like "lifestyle" choices, an incredible invasion of privacy in some ways more intrusive than the English soldiers that invaded American households to search for any untaxed papers.

Advocates of such a database argue that it will only be searched after obtaining some type of court order.

These advocates fail to understand that our privacy and the Fourth Amendment are breached merely in the collection of our personal data. Our privacy is invaded first by the collection of private information and only secondarily by searching that databank.

The existence of the database itself is a violation of our right to privacy.

As the Trump administration takes shape it's going to be important to separate the president's attitude and skepticism toward foreign intervention and war from his attitudes toward surveillance and the methods he wants to pursue to fight the war on terror. They do not appear to be connected in any way. His focus on "law and order" may lead to a push for more domestic surveillance. And certainly there are going to be politicians (on both the left and the right!) who are going to encourage it.