4/12/2018 – MRFF’s Important Client Advocacy Role Highlighted During Senate Hearing on Secretary of State Nominee

4/12/2018

MRFF’s Important Client Advocacy Role Highlighted During Senate Hearing on Secretary of State Nominee

CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee to become the next Secretary of State highlighted MRFF’s commitment to client advocacy.  While focusing on Pompeo’s defense of his record regarding workforce diversity as Director of the CIA, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-New Hampshire) replied to Pompeo’s contention that “I’ve treated every one of our officers with dignity and respect” by stating “And yet you were criticized at the CIA for undermining policies of the previous administration to improve diversity at the CIA.”  This line of questioning led to the following interaction:

POMPEO: Ma’am, I don’t know the criticism that you’re referring to. I have to tell you that I didn’t undermine a single policy. We’ve emphasized it; we’ve talked about it; we’ve worked on it. I think – I’m proud of the work I did to continue to develop and increase the capacity of the CIA to deliver a diverse workforce to meet the challenges – the intelligence challenges in that case around the world.

SEN. SHAHEEN: Well, I would just say, Michael Weinstein, who is a former Air Force officer who founded the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, says that he has been seeing increasing complaints from those inside the intelligence community under your leadership. So, I think there have been a number of concerns raised.

In response, Pompeo stated, “The number of – we call them ‘no fear complaints’ – the statutory requirement – decreased from 2016 to 2017 by 40 percent.”  ‘No Fear Complaints’ refers to federal employee complaints of discrimination filed pursuant to the Notification and Federal Employee Antidiscrimination Retaliation Act of 2002 which held, in part, that Federal agencies cannot be run effectively if those agencies practice or tolerate discrimination.  MRFF contends that Mr. Pompeo’s claim of a significant reduction in such claims, if accurate, is a result of employee fear of his “leadership” rather than any positive steps taken to eliminate discrimination under his watch.

This is the situation that has led to increased complaints to MRFF from the intelligence community.  An understandable situation given Pompeo’s very public record of extremely discriminatory tendencies:

In early summer [2017], Judy and Dennis Shepard bought plane tickets to give a speech to the workforce at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The Shepards in 1998 had founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation in honor of their late son — a 21-year-old college freshman who was viciously attacked and left tied to a fence before he was brought to a hospital where he died of his injuries. One of the most notorious anti-gay acts of violence in U.S. history, his death led to some of the country’s first federal hate crime laws.  The Shepards had been invited to the CIA to talk about diversity and LGBTQ rights, joining a long line of guest speakers at the covert overseas spy agency including lawmakers, former officials, authors, and celebrities.  The schedule was set, and the details arranged, but in the 11th hour, the senior leadership shut down the event. The seventh floor, where the director’s office sits, had the Shepards’ speech canceled, questioning what value it would bring to the CIA mission.

(Jenna McLaughlin, Foreign Policy Magazine Online, 9/8/2017)

As part of an effort to expand chaplain services to CIA employees — which Trapani [CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani] said was in response to requests from the agency workforce — Pompeo has consulted with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, an organization that the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled an anti-gay hate group.  (Greg Miller, The Washington Post Online, 8/24/2017)

When asked if he would have voted for repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy during a debate for the Kansas 4th Congressional District seat on 9/23/2010 at Wichita State University, Pompeo stated “I would have supported the continuation of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tcku7HW4UTA&app=desktop)

U.S. Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican who represents the state’s southern 4th District, said he was “deeply saddened” by the ruling “that imposes legalized gay marriage” on the majority of Kansans who voted for the constitutional amendment.  “Creating, out of nowhere, a federal right to marry, flies in the face of centuries of shared understanding of our Constitution,” Pompeo said in an email Friday. “It is a shocking abuse of power. It is wrong. I will continue to fight to protect our most sacred institutions; Kansans and our nation deserve no less.” (Jonathan Shorman and Justin Wingerter, Topeka Capital-Journal Online, 6/26/2015)

A Republican congressional candidate [Mike Pompeo] and RNC committee member has personally apologized for a tweet his campaign sent out promoting an article that called his opponent a “turban topper” who “could be a muslim, a hindu, a buddhist etc who knows.” (Sam Stein, The Huffington Post, 8/12/2010)

Mike Pompeo, Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, has a long record of anti-Muslim statements. After the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, then-Rep. Pompeo (R-Kan.) suggested that Muslim American leaders who did not condemn the attack were “potentially complicit.”  Frank Gaffney, an active proponent of anti-Muslim policies, has hosted Pompeo at his think tank, the Center for Security Policy, which asserts that practicing Muslims have an affinity towards extremism since they follow the Muslim code of law, or sharia. In 2015, the center asserted that more than 80 percent of mosques in the United States “are incubators of, at best, subversion and, at worst, violence and should be treated accordingly.”  … Pompeo also has a long history with Brigitte Gabriel, the founder of ACT for America, an organization that peddles anti-Muslim conspiracy theories. Gabriel has suggested that any woman wearing a hijab must be an extremist. Pompeo accepted the organization’s National Security Eagle Award for 2016. That same year, he personally reserved a auditorium on Capitol Hill to host ACT’s annual national conference.  (Jonathan A. Greenblatt, Chief Executive and National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, The Washington Post Online, 4/12/2018) 

Should anyone be legitimately surprised that reporting of discriminatory actions in the CIA would decrease under Pompeo’s ‘leadership’ while complaints to MRFF as an outside client advocate increase?

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