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Dem Senator grills Pompeo on climate change in confirmation hearing

CIA Director-designate Rep. Michael Pompeo, R-Kan. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017, at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Seated behind Pompeo is his wife Susan Pompeo, back center, and their son Nick Pompeo, left. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Newly elected Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) demanded Kansas Republican Rep. Mike Pompeo answer to the threat of climate change during his questioning. Pompeo is President-elect Donald Trump's pick for CIA Director, and he appeared confounded that Harris was asking him about the catastrophic weather prediction many Republicans consider a hoax.

Her question began by quoting another CIA Director:

CIA Director Brennan who spent a 25-year career at the CIA an an analyst, a senior manager, a station chief in the field, has said that, "when CIA analysts look for deeper causes of rising instability in the world, one of the cause those CIA analysts see is the impact of climate change. Do you have any reason to doubt the assessment of these CIA analysts?

Pompeo responded:

Senator Harris, I haven't had a change to read those materials with respect to climate change. I do know the agency's role there. Its role is to collect foreign intelligence, to understand threats to the world, that would certainly include threats from poor governance, regional instability, threats from all sources and deliver that information to policy makers, and to the extent that changes in climactic activity are a part of that foreign intelligence collection task, we will deliver that information to you all and to the president.

But Harris was not dissuaded, and brought up with his past statement on the issue:

In the past you have questioned the scientific consensus on climate change. Nevertheless, according to NASA, multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97% or more of actively published climate scientists agree that climate warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. Do you have any reason to doubt NASA's findings?

Pompeo responded politely but declined to go into detail about it:

Senator, I've actually spoken to this in my political life some. My commentary most all been directed to ensuring that the policies that America put in place actually achieve the objective ensuring that we didn't have catastrophic harm that resulted from change in climate. I continue to hold that view. I frankly, as the director of CIA, would today prefer not to get into the details of climate debate and science. My role is going to be so different and unique from that. It is going to be to work alongside warriors keeping Americans safe, so I stand by the things that I've said previously with respect to that issue.

Harris pressed again on the issue a third time, and he refused to answer more fully but agreed to have a "follow up conversation" about climate change at a later date.

President-elect Donald Trump has said in the past that climate change was invented by the Chinese to undermine America, but later met with chief climate change preacher Al Gore at Trump Towers, leaving his detractors mystified as to what they can expect from his administration. According to some reports, Trump has also sought avenues to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, a treaty between nations promising to address the climate change issue.

Pompeo, under questioning by the other California Senator, Barbara Boxer, said that he would refuse an order by Trump to perform acts of enhanced interrogation that are considered to be torture.

One last thing…
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