Washington, D.C.

March 14, 2018

Emgage Action Strongly Opposes Appointment of Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel

This week, President Donald J. Trump made a controversial announcement to appoint Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State and Gina Haspel as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Emgage Action fully opposes these appointments, as Mr. Pompeo has made highly incendiary and fallacious comments about Muslim Americans and Ms. Haspel’s aggressive role in torture programs.

In 2013, Mr. Pompeo, as a member of the House of Representatives, testified during a hearing after the Boston Marathon attacks, claiming that Muslim religious leaders were “potentially complicit” in the attacks for not vigorously denouncing the bombing. This type of mentality, which discredits the countless number of Islamic advocacy organizations who responded to the attacks, does not reflect a manner consistent with the values of our Department of State (DOS). The DOS represents the international voice for America, and to appoint an individual who calls into question an entire religion’s commitment to peace is unacceptable.

Mr. Pompeo is also known to be a close ally to Brigitte Gabriel and Frank Gaffney, leaders of Act for America (ACT), a well-known anti-Islam hate group, and is also a recipient of the National Security Eagle Award, the highest honors awarded by ACT. In addition to openly endorsing this hate group, Mr. Pompeo has appeared on Mr. Gaffney’s radio shows and spoke at his summit in 2015, titled Defeat Jihad. Furthermore, Mr. Pompeo defended the 2014 Senate report on the CIA’s torture methods and the individuals who performed these acts by declaring, “these men and women are not torturers, they are patriots.” He opposed President Obama’s 2009 decision to shut down CIA “black sites,” a term used for the secret prisons used to torture suspects overseas.

Mr. Pompeo’s successor for the CIA, Ms. Haspel, has already provoked Senate opposition to her confirmation due to her authority over America’s “black site” torture methods. She directly supervised and carried out brutal interrogations in 2002 in secret prisons in Thailand. Prisoners were subjected to torture techniques such as waterboarding, physical assaults, sleep-deprivation, and solitary confinement. Following a promotion within the agency, Ms. Haspel attempted to destroy evidence about her involvement in the torture program by destroying cables and video surveillance. Her disgraceful actions should be a clear indication of her inability to lead the CIA and have highlighted her contempt for transparency and human rights.

Emgage Action CEO Wa’el Alzayat said, “The Trump Administration has demonstrated time and time again its willingness to appoint individuals to the highest levels of our government who have anti-Muslim biases or ties to hate groups. It is unacceptable to have individuals who hold these racist and biased opinions to lead agencies that shape American foreign policy. ”  

The American government should represent all of its citizens. For the President of the United States to appoint a well-documented Islamophobe and a former CIA Deputy Director involved in “one of the darkest chapters in American history” is beyond reprehensible and inappropriate. These appointments send a message, not just to Muslim Americans, but to the world that we have abandoned our commitment to long-held values of religious tolerance  and support for human rights.



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Visit EmgageUSA.org and EmgageAction.org to learn more about how Muslim Americans are engaging politically to ensure that America continues to remain inclusive and tolerant for everyone.

For more information, please contact: iawad@emgageaction.org.