CIA Director Mike Pompeo Takes Aim At Wikileaks
President Donald Trump’s new CIA Director, former Congressman Mike Pompeo, has just become a thorn in the administration’s side as major political battles loom toward the end of April. As liberals and conservatives prepare to do budget battle ahead of an April 28 deadline that could result in a shutdown of the federal government, the Trump administration needs to avoid doing anything to further antagonize Democrats…or members of his own party. Pompeo has thrown a potential wrench into the works by highlighting an area of debate where liberal and conservative lawmakers often make strange bedfellows: The intersection of surveillance and free speech.
At issue is the controversial online entity known as WikiLeaks, which is popular for publicly releasing intelligence documents. WikiLeaks describes itself as a “whistleblower” organization, bringing to light the dark side of government, political, and financial activities. Since its founding in October 2006, the website has leaked lots of classified information about U.S. government activities, including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, operations of the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and many diplomatic cables.
In 2016, WikiLeaks made headlines by releasing emails sent among members of the Democratic National Committee that revealed an unethical favoritism toward primary election candidate Hillary Clinton versus challenger Bernie Sanders. This revelation, which occurred in July, was quickly seized upon by the Republican Party, especially presidential nominee Donald Trump, as a cudgel with which to batter Democratic nominee Clinton. Trump tried to drive a rift between centrist Democrats and pro-Sanders progressives by frequently pointing out that the Democratic Party had run an unfair game.
Along with many Republicans, Mike Pompeo eagerly praised WikiLeaks for bringing to light the deceptions of the DNC.
Now, however, both Pompeo and Trump are criticizing WikiLeaks…and leaks in general. Now, this is not unexpected: Challengers always love leaks that paint the incumbent administration as incompetent, abusive, or corrupt. Until January, Republicans were the challengers and Democrats were the incumbents. Leaked emails, photos, and diplomatic cables tended to hurt the Obama administration, not the GOP. But in January, the GOP took control of the White House…and any new leaks will make them look bad. It’s hardly worth pointing out the flip-flop when Donald Trump goes from gleefully tweeting about political and government leaks in the fall to condemning them in the spring.