The CIA under President Trump is giving more authority to field operatives and cutting excessive bureaucracy in a bid to boost intelligence operations, CIA Director Mike Pompeo says.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo told The Washington Free Beacon his agency is peeling away some of the bureaucratic layers that stand between its operatives and analysts and CIA leadership.
It is his first news interview since taking charge of the agency in January. Pompeo said he believes America’s greatest long-term security challenge is the threat posed by China, not Russia.
“In nearly every one of those cases it increases the risk level,” he said. “It also greatly enhances the likelihood you’ll achieve the outcome you’re looking for.”
Pompeo added President Donald Trump has been supportive of the CIA’s efforts to continue its mission of intelligence gathering overseas. But he is also supportive of making changes to how it operates.
Under Pompeo’s guidance, the CIA is stepping up its efforts to steal other countries’ secrets.
“Look, our primary mission is foreign intelligence,” Pompeo said. “That is at the core of what we do. And so the ability to go collect against the most difficult places, the most difficult targets in a way that is not one off, that is deep and robust and redundant. It is something this agency is really good at when they are allowed to do it. And the president is going to go let us do it.”
China, Russia, and Iran all are expected to pose significant problems in the future. China is a greater threat because of its robust economy and growing military power—both aimed against the United States.
“I think China has the capacity to present the greatest rivalry to America of any of those over the medium and long term,” he said.
China’s military is building up forces that are aimed at countering U.S. power projection around the world, he said.
“So you see that, whether it’s going on in the South China or East China Sea, or the work they’re doing in other parts of the world,” Pompeo said.
Pompeo concluded the interview with an appeal to the news media to limit leaks of classified information. He said they could risk the lives of CIA officers.
“The media’s insatiable demand for leaks presents enormous risks to the United States of America,” he said. “We have the first duty that is to protect our stuff from getting out. But I am confident that this administration is going to do its level best to—once the secrets are out—to identify those who did them.”
Pompeo said the issue of leaks is personal.
“We have CIA officers who will get killed as a result of these,” he said. “And I don’t want to have to go talk to their family members and say ‘yup, this young man, this young woman died as a direct result of some information that was published by a media source that was released from our organization’—or frankly from our government. This is deadly business so we are deadly focused on pushing back against it.”