Pompeo pressed on plans for cybersecurity at State

Pompeo pressed on plans for cybersecurity at State
© Greg Nash

CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoRand's reversal advances Pompeo Overnight Defense: Pompeo clears Senate panel, on track for confirmation | Retired officers oppose Haspel for CIA director | Iran, Syria on agenda for Macron visit After Dems stood against Pompeo, Senate’s confirmation process needs a revamp MORE on Thursday would not say what his plans would be for the top cyber position at the State Department, though he said he would put “a great deal of resources” toward cybersecurity efforts if confirmed.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott GardnerPoll: Almost two-thirds of Texas voters support legal recreational marijuana House, Senate GOP compete for cash Overnight Cybersecurity: Senators want info on 'stingray' surveillance in DC | Bills to secure energy infrastructure advance | GOP lawmaker offers cyber deterrence bill MORE (R-Colo.) asked Pompeo about his plans for the cybersecurity position at the State Department, an apparent reference to the now-defunct role of cybersecurity coordinator. Former Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonRand's reversal advances Pompeo Frequent Trump critics NY Daily News, USA Today editorial boards back Pompeo Sarah Sanders: Dems have to decide if they love the US more than they hate Trump MORE, who President TrumpDonald John TrumpRand's reversal advances Pompeo New allegations could threaten Trump VA pick: reports President Trump puts on the pageantry for Macron’s visit MORE fired last month, eliminated the position as part of his broader reorganization plan for the department — a move that irked both Republicans and Democrats.

“I have had the [organization] chart shown to me. I have seen the holes,” Pompeo said Thursday. “Beyond that, I haven’t given a great deal of consideration to people filling particular positions.” 

“I can only say that, every element of government has a piece of its cyber duty. It’s one of the challenges that it’s so deeply divided, that we don’t have a central place to do cyber work,” Pompeo said.

“At the CIA, we’ve spent a great deal of resources. I hope we have delivered value on our cyber efforts. I would hope we do the same thing at the State Department,” he said. 

Tillerson told Congress last summer that he was closing the Office of Cybersecurity Coordinator and folding its responsibilities into a bureau focused on economic and business affairs.

Several lawmakers balked at the move, worrying it signaled a downgrade to the department’s efforts to engage with other nations on cyber policy and norms. In January, the House voted to approve legislation that would restore the cyber office. State officials have insisted that cyber remains a top priority at the department. 

Pompeo testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for several hours on Thursday as part of his confirmation process to become secretary of State.

Trump tapped Pompeo to lead State on March 13, the same day he removed Tillerson — a decision that abruptly ended the former Exxon Mobil executive’s 14-month tenure.

Broadly, Pompeo committed to filling critical vacancies at the State Department and boosting workforce morale.