WASHINGTON - In selecting Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo to lead the CIA, President-elect Donald Trump has chosen a strong supporter of aggressive interrogation and surveillance as a means of keeping Americans safe.
If the Senate confirms Pompeo to lead a sprawling agency with 21,500 employees and an annual budget of $15 billion, Trump will have someone who reflects his views on national security.
"I think it means these guys are going to get tougher on terrorists, which I think is a very good thing and I think was one of the key issues of the campaign that people didn't feel safe at home or abroad," said Kansas Republican Gov. Sam Brownback. "You're putting in a place a very strong, 'tough on terrorism' man to head the CIA."
Pompeo, a three-term congressman from Wichita, is a West Point and Harvard Law School graduate and a vocal member of the House Select Committee on Intelligence.
Elected to Congress in the tea party wave of 2010, he's been an unrelenting critic of the Obama administration's policies on Iran and Libya.
"That's one of the things that's most refreshing about Mike that what you see is what you get," said Rep. Lynn Jenkins, a Kansas Republican. "He's authentic and real and he's going to tell you exactly what he thinks without mincing words every single time."
He sharply criticized a 2014 report by Senate Democrats on CIA interrogation practices, including waterboarding, and defended the men and women who carried them out.
"These men and women are not torturers," Pompeo said at the time, "they are patriots."
He's supported restoring the National Security Agency's access to the bulk data it collected under a controversial surveillance program revealed by exiled government contractor Edward Snowden.
"I believe that program has proven to be a very valuable asset for the intelligence community and for law enforcement, Pompeo told McClatchy in January.
As for Snowden, who's now in Russia? Pompeo called him a "traitor" who stole classified information.
"He should be brought back from Russia and given due process and I think the proper outcome would be that he would be given a death sentence for having put friends of mine, friends of yours who serve in the military today at enormous risk because of the information he stole and then released to foreign powers," Pompeo said of Snowden.
He's been a staunch opponent of Obama's plans to close the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and relocate some of its prisoners to U.S. sites.
Guantanamo, Pompeo said, "has been a gold mine of intelligence about radical Islamic terrorism."
He's an ardent foe of Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, in which the longtime U.S. adversary promised to dismantle its nuclear weapons program in exchange for eased economic sanctions. In the House, Pompeo has introduced numerous bills to maintain or increase sanctions on Iran.
Pompeo has also served on the special House committee that investigated the September 2012 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.