Nativism Watch

Why CIA director Mike Pompeo would delight anti-Muslim groups

Imagine2050 Staff • Nov 18, 2016
Image source: Gage Skidmore
Image source: Gage Skidmore

As news of President-elect Donald Trump’s selections for high-level positions in his administration continue to be released, the number of potential officials with explicit ties to organized nativism continues to grow. 

One of the latest in this category is Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), who Trump has nominated to lead the Central Intelligence Agency. Given Pompeo’s explicit embrace of anti-Muslim rhetoric and close ties to widely recognized hate groups ACT for America and Center for Security Policy (CSP), the prospect of him leading one of the world’s most powerful intelligence agencies is truly frightening. ACT for America is the nation’s largest anti-Muslim grassroots organization, responsible for promoting policies to stoke fear of Muslims in America and make it harder for Muslims to practice their faith. Founded in the 1980s as a neo-conservative think tank, CSP now serves as one of the primary platforms perpetuating anti-Muslim rhetoric and conspiracy theories.

In Congress, Pompeo has supported dubious legislation promoted by anti-Muslim groups that would designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. Pompeo co-sponsored a House companion bill (H.R.3892) to Sen. Ted Cruz’s S.B. 2230, the “Muslim Brotherhood Terrorist Designation Act of 2015.” Disconcertingly, the bill alleges the civil rights group Council on American-Islamic Relations and two other Muslim organizations have ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a common conspiracy theory peddled by anti-Muslim propagandists like ACT’s Brigitte Gabriel and CSP’s Frank Gaffney. A previous version of this legislation was introduced by former Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). It was later revealed that disgraced former FBI agent turned anti-Muslim conspiracist John Guandolo helped draft the bill. Guandolo has alleged the current CIA director John Brennan is a secret Muslim convert.

Pompeo, in fact, has appeared on Gaffney’s “Secure Freedom Radio” program over two dozen times since 2013. He is also a regular speaker at ACT for America’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. Pompeo spoke at the conference the past three years, and even arranged to reserve an auditorium inside the U.S. Capitol this year for the group’s legislative briefing. ACT took to social media to congratulate the Kansas representative on his nomination.

As a legislator, Pompeo has also advocated to halt refugee resettlement, keep the detention center at Guantanamo Bay open, and implement stronger domestic surveillance practices.

Pompeo has also targeted a local Wichita mosque. In March 2016, Pompeo led a campaign against the Islamic Society of Wichita to cancel an event featuring Sheik Monzer Taleb. After the event was cancelled due to security reasons-armed far-right militia members were planning to protest it-Pompeo issued a statement saying the mosque’s First Amendment right “does not permit the Islamic Society of Wichita to escape responsibility for the horrible judgment of doing so-especially by doing so on this important Christian day [Good Friday].” 

Pompeo later told Lisa Piraneo, ACT’s Director of Government Relations, “maybe actions like this show that if one is strong and fearless, we can push back on Hamas sympathizers and CAIR-types.”

Unsettling for a potential CIA director, indeed.

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