The man picked by Donald Trump to be the next CIA director vowed today that torture would "absolutely not" be renewed under his leadership, even as he warned that terrorism - especially within the U.S. homeland - remains the "most immediate threat" to "life and limb of Americans."
"I think [terrorism] presents the most immediate threat to personal risk to a person living in south-central Kansas," Rep. Mike Pompeo, a Republican from Kansas, said during his Senate confirmation hearing.
When the panel's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, asked whether he would comply with a presidential order to "restart the CIA's use of enhanced interrogation techniques that fall outside of the Army Field Manual," Pompeo was unequivocal: "Senator, absolutely not."
"I voted for the change that put the Army Field Manual in place as a member of Congress," Pompeo added. "I understand that law very, very [much] and ... there is no doubt in my mind about the limitations placed not only on the DOD but on the intelligence agency, and I'll always comply with the law."
The number of terrorist groups around the world is growing, and ISIS "has metastasized," according to Pompeo.
"The list is long" of terrorists who desperately want to do the United States harm, he said. "I put North Korea, China and Russia right up there alongside them ... The nuclear powers are the ones that have the biggest threat to do catastrophic harm in the United States."
He said he is concerned over whether the International Atomic Energy Agency has sufficient access in Iran to detect any noncompliance with the Iran nuclear deal.
"The Iranians are professionals at cheating, and so while I think we have a very sound inspection regime, I have to tell you I worry about the fact ... that we do not know [what] we do not know," Pompeo said. "You have my commitment that I will continue to improve and enhance capacity to understand that and do everything I can to diminish the risk that in fact we are missing something."
CIA Pick Vows No Return of US Torture Program