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U.S. Senate Confirms Pompeo As CIA Director; Tillerson Clears Committee


The new director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo has been sworn in as the director of the CIA after passing a Senate vote, while Secretary of State-nominee Rex Tillerson passed a crucial committee vote.

The Senate confirmed Pompeo, a West Point graduate and Gulf War veteran who had most recently served as a Republican congressman from Kansas, by a 66-32 vote on January 23.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence praised Pompeo, 53, for his "wealth of experience" and "character." He said during the late-night swearing-in ceremony that Pompeo is "stepping up to lead the finest intelligence-gathering operation the world has ever seen."

Many Democrats objected to Pompeo's nomination because they said he had not been forthcoming about his views on interrogation techniques widely considered as torture, expanded surveillance, and Russia's interference in the U.S. presidential election.

Senator Ron Wyden (Democrat-Oregon) said Pompeo's answers to some questions from senators had been "vague" and "contradictory," making it difficult to truly know what Pompeo believes.

Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson
Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson

Pompeo had told the Senate Intelligence Committee that the assessment of Russia meddling in the presidential election was "solid."

Despite criticism of intelligence agencies by President Donald Trump in recent weeks over their assessment of Russia's involvement in the election, he reassured workers during a visit to CIA headquarters on January 22 that he is "1,000 percent" behind them.

Pompeo graduated first in his 1986 class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served in the U.S. Army in Western Europe at the end of the Cold War. He also graduated from Harvard Law School.

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved Tillerson, the former CEO of ExxonMobil, to recommend to the Senate his nomination to be secretary of state.

A full vote by the Senate is expected soon.

The vote was 11-10 with all Republicans voting for him and all Democrats voting against him.

Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) praised Tillerson for being well-qualified for the post, but the committee's leading Democrat, Ben Cardin (Maryland), said he was opposed to the nominee because his answers on important international issues sounded more like those from a corporate executive than a candidate to be secretary of state.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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