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Free Fire | | Borders, Counterterrorism, Cyberterrorism, Defense Budget & Programs, Europe, Latin America, Middle East, Nuclear Deterrence, Waging War

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FRANK GAFFNEY:

Welcome to Secure Freedom Radio. This is Frank Gaffney, your host and guide for what I think of as an intelligence briefing on the war for the free world. A man whose intelligence we seek regularly and are delighted to get access to from time to time is our friend Mike Pompeo, a member of congress representing with great distinction the people of the fourth district of Kansas. He is a member of the House permanent select committee on intelligence, among other things, serving on its subcommittees on the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency and cyber-security. He’s also a member of the House select committee on Benghazi and the House committee on energy and commerce. A very full plate, a portfolio that touches our national security interests here at Secure Freedom Radio in myriad ways and we’re always delighted to have a chance to visit with him. Congressman, welcome back. Good to have you with us.

MIKE POMPEO:

Frank, it’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me on the show again.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Pleasure. Listen, I wanted, first of all, to say thank you for your leadership in and initiative in your own community on exposing something that was very troubling and that had a salutary effect, at least for the moment, talk a little bit about it if you would, Sheikh Monzer Talib.

MIKE POMPEO:

Well, now, almost a week ago, or actually a week ago today, I learned that we were having, our Islamic Center of Wichita had intended to hold a fundraiser and they were bringing in Sheikh Monzer Talib to speak and to be a fundraiser. Apparently, he does this all across the country. We got a tip from someone he was coming. It wasn’t being hidden. It was on their website. So they weren’t trying to sneak him into town. But we got a tip from someone that this was taking place. We learned who he was. We did a little bit of work. Frankly, we researched lots of groups, including you all. To try to make sure we understood the full scope of the threat that was posed by this man. And concluded that it was completely inappropriate for him to be in Wichita, Kansas, not the least of which was he was going to be speaking on Good Friday. He was going to Wichita, Kansas on the night of Good Friday to raise money. We know Sheikh Monzer Talib was listed in the Holy Land Foundation trial as an unindicted co-conspirator. He himself has said he’s a member of Hamas. He has a long history of being engaged in terror-linked activities. So we asked publicly that the Islamic Center of Wichita reconsider and not bring him to our town. And they, next morning, announced that they wouldn’t. In fact, cancelled the event, and they did. And so I was very pleased with the outcome. There’s no place in America and certainly not in Kansas for a terror-linked cleric to be speaking. We have all these challenges with radical Islamic extremism and this is not necessary.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Let me ask you a couple of questions that arise from this and, first of all, thank you for, as I say, calling him out, and raising awareness about what this Islamic society of Wichita is doing with a guy like this. First question, Congressman Mike Pompeo, is when you look at this fellow’s history, it’s my understanding he was actually captured on videotape that was introduced into evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial singing a song, doing a solo as a matter of fact, in the song as part of a fundraising act that one of the other songsters was convicted in that trial for raising funds for Hamas. This guy’s song is “I Am From Hamas”. I guess the question is, why hasn’t he been prosecuted on similar charges?

MIKE POMPEO:

Boy, that’s a good question. I don’t know the answer to that. There’s a newspaper here, you know, as it happened, said, you know, tried to say, well, Mike Pompeo thinks he’s part of Hamas. Well, that’s true, but more importantly –

FRANK GAFFNEY:

With good reason.

MIKE POMPEO:

Right. More importantly than that, he believes he is. And so sometimes, Frank, you’ve seen this a million times, we have evidence but not everyone is going to agree that the evidence amounts to – is sufficient to make such claims, but in this case, he claims it. And so this is a very straightforward one. What was interesting is I made very clear in my release, they had every right to bring him here, right? You and I are deep believers in the First Amendment, Frank. He’s not been convicted. He is free to travel in the United States. He is free to say anything that is not – that doesn’t lead to the incitement of violence. He wanted to come to town. He claims to be a motivational speaker. Frankly, that’s what I’m afraid of. That he’s really a good motivational speaker and it’s what he’ll be motivating people to do that will cause concern for my community. But in spite of the fact that they had the constitutional right to do it, it was just horribly bad judgment and I to this moment don’t understand why they made that decision. It’s no secret – what we just described about his history is no secret. And so I hope to find out why it’s the case that they chose to do this and, frankly, thank them for making the decision not to do it.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Well, let me ask you a pointed question if I may, Congressman Mike Pompeo. One of the things, of course, that you pointed out in your press release is the timing of this was not only rather poor in terms of it being a very important holiday for Christians, but beyond that, this was shortly after attacks in Brussels demonstrated that the jihadists there were able to draw upon an infrastructure that was supporting them, enabling their planning and so on. You have, I think, been very, very alert to the challenge posed by the Muslim Brotherhood in the United States and the degree to which it has established, well, mosques among other things like the Islamic society of Wichita and elsewhere. Should we be concerned that what may be going on here in terms of welcoming a fellow like Sheikh Monzer Talib is indicative of a similar kind of infrastructure problem in our own country and that the bill that I know is awaiting consideration in the House now to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation might have bearing in this particular case.

MIKE POMPEO:

So, certainly, I’ve co-sponsored that bill. We all have observed that infrastructure has been built up for the radical Islamic terrorist regime, not only as we’ve seen it in Europe, but as we’ve seen it elsewhere. We’ve seen an event here in Wichita, Kansas coming up on two and a half years ago where a gentleman was inspired by reading Islamic materials that were put out radicals in the Middle East, he read them online, and he decided he would go to the Wichita airport and blow it up. Blow up some airplanes sitting on the tarmac. So it is, in fact, all around us. And it’s not just, Frank, it’s not just trigger pullers and folks with explosive vests. There’s an infrastructure that builds up beyond that and creates risks and my comment in my press release was that his man’s visit, the fundraising visit on Friday was featured prominently on the front page of their website, they didn’t try to hide that he was coming here to Kansas. Nowhere on that website was there any indication that this mosque and the people who worship there condemned the killing of almost three dozen people that had happened just a few days before that. We have to have people from all faiths condemning everything connected to the terror infrastructure that now presents numerous threats throughout the United States. And I regret that the Islamic society of Wichita did not do that the way that I think is necessary if we’re ever going to be able to defeat this ideology.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Well, this is the key issue, it seems to me, defeating that ideology. And we appreciate, again, Mike Pompeo, your leadership on this as on so many other issues. Let me pivot, if I may, to Iran, a subject you’ve been deeply concerned about for some time. You’re on the energy and commerce committee as well as the intelligence committee. Just quickly, sir, what are your thoughts on this revelation that Iranian hackers were inside the, well, the control systems of a dam in upstate New York for apparently some period of time? What does it tell you about the threat, particularly to our infrastructure, our infrastructure as well as the nature of the Iranian regime?

MIKE POMPEO:

Well, I have been working to try and alter American policy with respect to Iran. It’s probably one of the top – first thing I spent my time on. This administration views the leaders of Iran as being partners in peace. And yet you see, whether it was the cyber attacks here in America, including the one where somebody had access to controlling important components inside a major waterway in the United States, or now launching missiles in direct contravention of the UN security council resolution, which they therefore scoff at. The core challenge with respect to Iran is accepting the fact that this regime is intent on getting a nuclear weapon. And is intent on conducting terror operations around the world through their Iranian – through the IRGC. And the United States policy today appears to be to try to welcome them into the world and think that that behaviour is going to change. This is a fool’s errand and dangerous.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Let me ask you to pause for just a second on this. We’re delighted to have a second segment with Mike Pompeo of the fourth district of Kansas. I want to talk to you about the concession that is apparently now in the offing that can only make matters worse, it seems to me. That and more with Congressman Pompeo right after this.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

We’re back. We’re visiting with Congressman Mike Pompeo of the fourth district of Kansas. A leader in the House of Representatives on national security matters, a man with a distinguished record of service in uniform, first in his class at West Point, with service in the United States Army thereafter, as well as work in the defense industrial sector following his time in uniform. Congressman, you have had a leadership role, there’s no question about it, in terms of exposing this Iranian regime. Its ambitions, as you say, for nuclear weapons. The administration has turned a deaf ear to all of your warnings and is now, apparently, according to the Wall Street Journal, imminently going to be further empowering this Iranian regime by giving them access to dollars in the international currency markets. Could you talk about what is going on here and the possible implications?

MIKE POMPEO:

It’s incomprehensible. This position appears to be prepared to allow Iranian companies and perhaps most importantly Iranian banks to have access to the entire international global trading system and finance system. The administration promised, they told congress, they told the Democrats who voted to support the JCPOA, don’t worry, we will keep terror sanctions in place. If they don’t go back to nuclear weapons, if the Iranians continue to spread terror around the world, we will continue to keep sanctions in place. And yet it appears they are now ready to allow Europeans to trade not only with Iran but using US dollars. And that is illegal. We’re going to, in congress, extend the statute that allows the treasury to make that illegal. And it’s an enormous mistake. You will now have the IRGC, through front companies, having access to the international global finance and trading system, making enormous risk to lots of companies throughout the world. And we just talked about cyber threats and just talked about their ability to infiltrate in places and now we’re going to open up the financial system to permit them to trade through the global trading system. It will ultimately touch US banks. And they will have extended their foothold throughout the world and it will be – the administration says, don’t worry, if we find out they’ll do it, there will be snapback sanctions. That’s a joke.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Yeah, the snapping back is becoming more and more problematic by the day. We’re visiting with Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas. And, Congressman, you have, as I’ve said here before with you and without you, played an enormously important role in, I think, illuminating so many of these challenges. You serve, as you mentioned, on the cyber security subcommittee of the House permanent select committee on intelligence. And one of the things that I’m just wondering if you’ve been concerned about, as am I in that regard, is the idea that this president is making yet another concession to, well, Iranians and Chinese and Russians and others who I think do not have our interests at heart by transferring control of an important function of the internet to so-called international stakeholders. And doing so under circumstances that seem to lend themselves very directly to, well, the cyber manipulation of the internet and the restriction of free speech and perhaps worse. Could you talk a little bit about this so-called ICON transfer initiative and what congress might do to prevent it?

MIKE POMPEO:

So the president and his leadership at the Federal Communications Commission concluded, now goodness, a couple of years back that they would allow a transition to take place which took the United States out of the leadership role with respect to how – it’s a little more complicated, but how the internet operates. What is very, very simple to see from that is that it’s not even so much that the United States won’t be in the leadership role, it’s that the people who will be will use it in ways that are detrimental to not only the United States, but to commerce, to the national security of law-abiding countries all around the world. The risk that’s associated with transferring this power from a country that’s done a darn good job of making sure that people all around the world have access to the internet now is handing over those reigns. There was no reason to do it. There’s no upside to the United States for having done so. And it’s a mistake that will be incredibly difficult to walk our way back from. Congress has tried, the House of Representatives has attempted to slow this down. Indeed, we’ve passed bills to do that. But unfortunately the Senate hasn’t been able to put legislation on the president’s desk so we have enough votes to stop him from what he’s trying to do.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

I think it’s the case that there’s actually a prohibition in place through the end of this fiscal year on this transfer and I guess the question is could we extend that beyond and I certainly hope that will be the – one of the things congress takes up. Listen, there’s so much more to talk about, Congressman, let me just turn to another area that you’ve been very involved in, if I may. Hillary Clinton’s emails first came to light as a result of the work that, well, I think Judicial Watch was doing, but also your select committee on Benghazi to try to figure out what she was doing among others and saying and ordering at the time of that disastrous debacle. Given what we’ve heard so far, the intelligence that has been compromised, perhaps the criminal activity by Hillary Clinton, do you anticipate that there will be, in fact, a prosecution of Mrs. Clinton in time to spare us, perhaps, of, you know, her role as a commander-in-chief?

MIKE POMPEO:

So I try and stay away from predicting what others will do. What I can tell the folks listening today is that I have had the chance now to read the twenty-plus top secret emails that were sitting on Secretary Clinton’s home brewed server, a setting that was not remotely secure in a way that the United States government handles national security information. And we’ve heard some on the Clinton team, including herself, say that, gosh, this was just – this was a nothing order. I’ve read those emails. That is false. They are appropriately classified. Anyone who’s had any kind of experience handling this kind of information would read those and recognise that it wasn’t appropriate for this information to be in a place that the Iranians and the Chinese and others who want access to US classified information could get it more easily. And so it’s very, very clear to me that there was information that was in places that was completely inappropriate and I am confident the FBI will do a thorough investigation and I’m hopeful the Justice Department will take that information and do the right thing.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Yeah. Well, you are, in addition to being a distinguished national security expert, a lawyer by training, as I recall, and you have, I think, an assessment, I’m sure, of the degree of criminal exposure here. Would you say, based on what you know that there is a real problem?

MIKE POMPEO:

Yeah. There’s no doubt this information was not handled in a way that is consistent with the law in my judgment. And so we’ll see how they proceed. Remember, too, it’s not just Secretary Clinton. There would have been multiple people inside the United States government executive branch, senior leaders, who were also part of this as well. And so I think that’s – I think that’s part of the work the FBI has to engage in and find out exactly who and exactly how did this information jump. I mean, it’s not easy. I handle national security information with great frequency. To get it out of the secure system is not just – you don’t just hit forward –

FRANK GAFFNEY:

It’s meant to be hard –

MIKE POMPEO:

That’s right.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

You have to go to some lengths.

MIKE POMPEO:

There are reasons it’s difficult, exactly.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

Yeah. Let me ask you in closing, Congressman, you have spent a lot of time on one other subject near and dear to our hearts, which is Guantanamo Bay. The chairman of your committee, Devin Nunes, recently described in the Wall Street Journal the growing importance of human intelligence because of the compromises of our various signals intelligence and other collection techniques. How important do you think it is that we be able to retain that facility, among other things, for the purposes of doing the kinds of human intelligence collection and interrogation that apparently is going to be more needed in the future even than today?

MIKE POMPEO:

Frank, that’s a great question. You know, we often talk about Guantanamo Bay and its closure in the context of releasing these nasty, dangerous men who are there today and that’s important. We can’t do it – to bring them back to the States to read them their Miranda rights. So that’s a big deal. But we seldom spend enough time talking about this is an incredibly important asset going forward. We will, next week or the week after, capture a terrorist on the battlefield, an enemy combatant. We will need a place to confine and interrogate them. And today the option set is to either release them, turn them over to a third country or bring them back to the eastern district of Virginia. All are really bad options if your goal is to take down the terror network and find out what this person knows. So Guantanamo Bay is a key asset to take down radical Islamic terror networks throughout the world in a way that keeps America safe.

FRANK GAFFNEY:

We can’t say how much we appreciate your work in that regard, Congressman, and look forward to continuing our conversations about that work. Keep it up, my friend. Come back to us again very soon. Next up, we’ll take stock with another very distinguished member of congress on Iran’s new demands and more. Straight ahead.

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