Letter from the Truman Community against Pompeo’s Confirmation

In advance of CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination hearing for Secretary of State, more than 50 members of the Truman community — including among them veterans, former State Department employees, and frontline civilians — signed on to the below letter against his confirmation.

Dear Chairman Corker and Ranking Member Menendez:

We are former employees of the U.S. State Department, veterans of the U.S. military, former members of the U.S. defense and intelligence apparatus, and civilians who have served on the frontlines of U.S. foreign policy. We write to you today to urge you to reject President Trump’s nominee for the position of Secretary of State, current CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

The Department of State deserves a strong leader who understands and takes seriously its role in decisions of war and peace. Diplomacy is more than flowery words and polite overtures: it is and always must be America’s first, best hope to resolve crises, stave off conflict, and project our values on the world stage. Under this president — and the rest of his cabinet, which now includes the unapologetically belligerent John Bolton, once rightly denied a position of influence by this committee — a force for thoughtful, serious diplomacy has never been more necessary.

Many of us disagree with many of Pompeo’s views, be they on climate change, torture, or Islamophobia. We recognize, however, that these positions are not all equally disqualifying in the eyes of our fellow Americans. What should be manifestly compelling, however, is the urgent need for balance. President Trump’s detractors and admirers agree on little beyond this: He is a creature of impulse, quick on the attack and fierce in his reactions. It is also beyond debate that Bolton will do nothing but exacerbate his thirst for fire and fury, especially when it comes to questions of putting American lives on the line.

To date, particularly with respect to the idea of conflict with Iran and North Korea, Mike Pompeo has neither said nor done anything indicating he would be a voice for restraint. On the contrary, he seems eager to rally with those who would encourage the president’s basest instincts — and unwilling to serve as a voice for serious, steady, and restrained diplomacy. He has consistently advocated for withdrawing from the Iran Deal (against the advice of military leaders like Secretary of Defense Mattis, and despite promising to “objectively monitor” Iran’s compliance during his confirmation hearing), and he has refused the notion of any concessions in a negotiation with North Korea while publicly speaking of regime change in an alarmingly casual way given the catastrophic risk inherent in a war in East Asia.

We have seen the disastrous aftermath of an unnecessary war firsthand: The invasion of Iraq was a catastrophic foreign policy mistake that has led to thousands of deaths, trillions of dollars wasted, still-unfolding geopolitical consequences, and immeasurable damage to America’s standing on the world stage. Never again must we allow a merry band of sycophants, chickenhawks, and hardliners to rush our nation to war on the basis of politicized intelligence and mismanaged expectations. Never again, yet we are dangerously close to allowing it now.

Open letters cannot affect U.S. foreign policy, but courageous senators can. Those who rubber-stamp Pompeo’s nomination — whether in the name of moderation, congeniality, or perceived political benefit — need to know how their vote to approve him will be understood. To accept Pompeo is to discount the need for diplomacy, and the need for balance; it is to endorse the idea of President Trump and John Bolton unbound by reason or restraint; and it is to, by proxy, provide advance approval for whatever catastrophic war or wars their recklessness may yield.

We respectfully urge you to reject Mike Pompeo’s nomination and insist that President Trump put forth a nominee for Secretary of State who will be a true voice for diplomacy. This time of upheaval and instability demands all the balance we can get.

Very Respectfully,

Victor Marsh, former Department of State

Angelic Young, former Department of State

Alexandra Bell, former Department of State

Jonathan Scanlon, former Department of State

Wa’el Alzayat, former Department of State

Rose Jackson, former Department of State

Kimberly G. Olson, former Department of State

Michael Breen, U.S. military veteran

Brady Van Engelen, U.S. military veteran

Pam Campos, U.S. military veteran

Joe Walsh, U.S. military veteran

LaRue Robinson, U.S. military veteran

Bishop Garrison, U.S. military veteran

Jonathan Morgenstein, U.S. military veteran

Andrea Marr, U.S. military veteran

Won Palisoul, U.S. military veteran

David’s Callaway, U.S. military veteran

Donald E. Martinez, U.S. military veteran

Dennis Shorts, U.S. military veteran

Christopher Purdy, U.S. military veteran

Andy Kopp, U.S. military veteran

Ryan McGill, U.S. military veteran

Terron Sims, II, U.S. military veteran

Arti Walker-Peddakotla, U.S. military veteran

Sonia Fernandez, U.S. military veteran

Josh Weinberg, U.S. military veteran

Kathryn L Smith, U.S. military veteran

Justin McFarlin, U.S. military veteran

Yuvaraj Sivalingam, former Department of Defense / Intelligence Community

Jennifer Atala, frontline civilian

Zuri Linetsky, frontline civilian

Farhat Popal, frontline civilian

Hamid M. Khan, frontline civilian

Tobias Read, frontline civilian

David Wertime

Matt Vallone

Seth Palmer

Barbi Appelquist

Roger Sorkin

Neil Aggarwal

Sonia Van Meter

Carrie Both Walling

Hoda Hawa

Matthew Geason

Elizabeth Arnold

Erica Fein

Adam Atkinson-Lewis

Ryan Cahill

Gabby Gutierrez

Kate Guy

Frida Gadzhimirzaeva

Meghan Valle

Jennifer Mellen

Shannon Bugos

Graham F. West

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We unite veteran, frontline civilian, political, & policy leaders to develop & advance strong, smart & principled solutions to global challenges Americans face.