Donald Trump’s pick to lead the CIA on Thursday told lawmakers that he would “absolutely not” comply with an order from the president-elect to resume the use of interrogation techniques considered by the international community to be torture.
“Moreover, I can’t imagine that I would be asked that by the president-elect,” Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) said in response to questions from Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel Feinstein Ban on new offshore drilling must stay in the Build Back Better Act Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair Jane Fonda to push for end to offshore oil drilling in California MORE (D-Calif.).
Pompeo said he agreed that it would require a change in law for the CIA to lawfully employ interrogation techniques beyond those contained in the Army Field Manual.
The Kansas congressman, who has a reputation for being combative and candid, struck a moderate tone as he volleyed questions about some of his more hawkish positions.
Pompeo has publicly wrangled with Feinstein over the issue of torture in the past.
Two years ago, the California Democrat engineered the release of a 500-page executive summary of the Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques, sparking fierce criticism from Pompeo.
He lambasted her for “[putting] American lives in danger” by releasing the summary, arguing that it has signaled to allies in the fight against terrorism that the U.S. will not “honor its commitments.”
From his post on the House Intelligence Committee, Pompeo has further condemned new Obama administration rules limiting government interrogators to techniques in the Army Field Manual — regulations that are up for review next year.
Feinstein said Pompeo was “absolutely wrong” when he argued that some of the techniques formerly used by the CIA were within the law.
The issue was expected to take center stage on Thursday in light of the president-elect’s public support for the use of waterboarding, which is now illegal.
But Pompeo pushed back on the suggestion that Trump would direct him to break current laws on torture.
“I have no reason to believe that President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 panel plans to subpoena Trump lawyer who advised on how to overturn election Texans chairman apologizes for 'China virus' remark Biden invokes Trump in bid to boost McAuliffe ahead of Election Day MORE will direct me not to follow the law and I will follow the law. I have no expectation of receiving any directions that do not comply with law,” he said in his written response to pre-hearing questions.
Asked if he could commit to senators that the CIA is “out of the enhanced interrogation business,” Pompeo affirmed that, “You have my full commitment."