Pompeo Says Twitter Blocking New York Post’s Hunter Biden Story Is ‘Dangerous’
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said it was ‘dangerous’ for Twitter to have taken the dramatic action of blocking the New York Post from posting on its platform over its coverage of Hunter Biden given that it has allowed adversaries such as Iran and China to post disinformation.
“It is dangerous when a powerful force like the communications tool which is Twitter, adopts a non-viewpoint neutral view of the world,” Pompeo said in an exclusive interview with the Washington Examiner.
“They have to make a choice, either it’s going to be neutral or they’re going to make a different decision,” he said. “And that decision can’t be based on whether it is supportive of this administration or attempting to undermine America.”
In an extensive interview with the Washington Examiner, Pompeo also discussed the normalizing relations between Israel and United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, known as the Abraham Accords and navigating the increasingly tense relationship with China.
A full transcript of the interview is below.
Washington Examiner: Is the aim of the administration with the work you have been doing for the past few years in the Middle East to isolate Iran?
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: You have it exactly right. So today, if you look at the array of players in the Middle East, there is near unanimity that the greatest challenge to peace and basic economic freedom is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s leadership. And that is to be contrasted with the historic understanding, which was that the greatest barrier to peace and economic prosperity in the region was the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
It always existed, frankly, but President Trump pulled it bare, and said, “No, we’re going to work with the Gulf States.” They have a shared set of interests, they want to grow their economies, right? The King of Saudi Arabia needs to build its economy and wants foreign direct investment. The Emiratis do too. They don’t want to build their foreign policy centered on hatred of Israel. They understand that Israel, the Jewish homeland, has a rightful place in the Middle East, and it is a democracy and an important economy and a great security partner. And so this is what you see.
The Abraham Accords is the ultimate manifestation of that. So this has been going on for two-and-a-half years, three years, but this ultimate manifestation where, whether it’s the Kuwaitis or the Emiratis or the Saudis or the Bahrainis or the Moroccans or the Sudanese, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, each of whom in the last weeks has each taken some action to decrease the public face of resistance against Israel and come closer to the American vision for how we all ought to work together to protect the American people from the Iranian regime.
Washington Examiner: Explain the timeline of the framework of the Abraham Accords, your critics claimed it was an overnight deal meant to bolster the president’s reelection.
Pompeo: I’m always reminded of the famous aphorism of, this has been an overnight success that we’ve worked on for three years. But in fact, this was a lot of work, and it took President Trump to set the conditions for this as well. They didn’t think about the conditions for a Gulf State to normalize relationships with Israel, they have to be confident that the United States will continue to be partners with them and to support them when they’re threatened by the Islamic Emiratis.
You saw what Iran said when the Abraham Accords were announced, they went after the Emiratis, they went after the Bahrainis. And so this is no small undertaking when they make the decision to publicly declare that they’re going to normalize relations. And so what they saw in President Trump was a president who was prepared to use America’s power, diplomatic power, economic power, military power necessary to support what it was they were trying to do.
So whether that was to build out a coalition to strike down the caliphate in Eastern Syria and in Western Iraq, the ISIS caliphate, whether it was the president’s efforts to kill Qassem Soleimani, when he threatened not only other regions, but was actively plotting against American citizens and American interests around the world. They saw a leader that was prepared to do that. It gave them the conditions where they could begin to do what they knew was the right thing, which was to normalize relationships with the state of Israel and to ultimately build out a security mechanism that protected their people and created just less risk, less risk to their countries, less risk for us that we’ll all have to send fewer of our kids; kids From Pennsylvania and from Kansas and all the places that our soldiers, sailors and marines come from. To send a few of our kids into harm’s way in the Middle East. This is the strategic importance of what took place when we achieve that.
There’s more to follow up. There are more countries that will come to make this decision. I don’t know who exactly next door can anyone ever to your point on their first question, we can never predict the day or the timing, but we’ll continue to lay the foundations and do the good work that will ultimately create more security there. And importantly, as the president always reminds us, reduce the risk to the United States of America as well.
Washington Examiner: How many moving parts in the administration made this happen, what it just the State Department, or…
Pompeo: No, this is a big effort and first of all, it starts with a direction from the president.
But then ultimately, you certainly need our team on the ground. So our ambassadors in these countries, our diplomatic team in the region, folks like me who are stationed here in Washington. But beyond that it takes a security team, our department of defense working with their apparatuses. It takes an intelligence community. I was the director of the CIA, right? We have important intelligence relationships with each of these governments as well, and they want to have competence that the United States is capable and prepared to assist them wherever it’s appropriate. We had good work that was done by the White House as well by Jared Kushner and by Avi (Berkowitz). So it took all of us to develop the set of relationships and do the hard work, the foundational detailed work that created the conditions that allowed the Abraham Accord to take place last month.
Washington Examiner: Iran?
Pompeo: Yes. Important, the president’s statement that Iran will never have a nuclear weapon is also a central underpinning of our Middle East policy. The world and the Middle East had to become comfortable, the president was serious about this deterrence effort, and we’ve done it. We’ve taken tens and tens of billions of dollars away from the regime in Iran, which they would have used to foment terror around the world, including here in the United States. So the approach we took with withdrawing from the JCPOA and denying the regime wealth and resources, has kept Americans safer here back home, and helped also to set the table for what we see nations doing with respect to Israel today.
Washington Examiner: Off topic a bit but I wanted your perspective from the State Department on the ongoing controversy of Twitter blocking a New York Post story concerning emails from former vice president Joe Biden’s son but continuing to allow Chinese and Iranian state media to push content push media critical of the United States weeks before our election.
[Editor’s note: the author is also a contributor to the Post.]
Pompeo: This is dangerous. It is dangerous when a powerful force like the communications tool which is Twitter, adopts a non-viewpoint neutral view of the world. And so I appreciate, we have seen some of these social media sites do good work, taking down messages from terrorists, and they have worked with the United States government and I applaud them for that. That’s good stuff. But what one can’t then do is allow disinformation, right?
The Iranians making personal threats against senior American leaders, the Chinese using the social media tools, not just Twitter, but others as well to format their disinformation on COVID and Wuhan virus and protective gear. They have to make a choice, either it’s going to be viewpoint neutral, they can let a thousand flowers bloom or they’re going to make a different decision. And that decision can’t be based on whether it is supportive of this administration or attempting to undermine America. That’s just inappropriate.
Washington Examiner: What about the threats of Russian and Chinese interference using bots and social media?
Pompeo: The State Department has a relatively small role in this, but our intelligence community, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, all are very focused on doing everything we can to make sure that whether it’s bots or other tools for disinformation that would have an adverse impact on the ability of us to have a fully informed, free and fair election don’t take place. So there’s been a lot of work done. We were very successful in the election, the midterm election in 2018, at working against that. I’m confident that we will be here again in 2020.
Your point was right. Some of these are coming from China, some of these are coming from Russia, some from Iran. And others from non-state actors, right? Who are engaged in the same kind of activity. It’s very important that we identify it for what it is that we work through a proper system, and that we ensure that this disinformation not flood the channel in these final weeks of the election campaign. We can see some of these things developing. We can see nations trying to do this, and I’m confident that we’ve got a pretty good handle on what’s taking place, or at least what our adversaries are trying to do.
Washington Examiner: Boil down for people who believe that China has been a bad actor, not just with what happened with the virus, but in every sort of aspect that impacts our lives, our privacy, to hackers in China who continue to steal from American companies—how are we impacted in our daily lives and what is going on with that relationship and how are you sort of navigating in this situation?
Pompeo: Let’s say three things that impact everyday Americans most directly. The first is the way in which the Chinese communist party has been absolutely evil and predatory on the economy. It’s cost millions of American jobs, all good paying and hardworking people’s jobs in manufacturing and intellectual property. They have state sponsored enterprises that dump products into the United States. It’s absolutely predatory economic activity. And president Trump is the first president who’s said, “Enough.” They’ve really hurt our economy. They’ve tried to undermine our prosperity.
The second thing I would describe is their efforts to attack us from our aspirational dreams we are the most exceptional nation, and they voice their views through espionage and disinformation here in the United States. You see it in schools, K through 12 schools in Pennsylvania and in Kansas and in North Carolina where they have these things called Confucius Institutes, they need to just go away. They have a happy face on them, but in fact they are part of the Chinese communist party’s influence operation. You see it in their efforts from the consulates. We shut down one of these spy hops in Houston, diplomatic facility they had in Houston Texas. These are the kinds of voices that attempt to undermine our democracy and voice their authoritarian vision on the world that affects real people every day.
And then the final one is, they have an increasing model where they’re trying to undermine our security around the world as well. They’re trying to deliver through their state enterprises, things like telecommunication systems, they call them smart cities where they can conduct the most Orwellian surveillance levels, where they’ll steal the private information of people. And you have U.S Citizens data, then if you’ve got a child and they’re on their cell phone and they send a message, well, that message travels across the world before it gets to its ultimate destination. If it goes across Chinese manufactured equipment, that information may well end up in the hands of the authoritarian regime there, the Chinese communist party.
So we spend a lot of time thinking about how to maintain technology, Western technology, that follows rules of transparency and order of the rule of law, not permitting American’s information to go in the hands of an adversary, someone who will use that information to build out systems that will surveil and cause real harm and reduce American security, the security of other freedom, loving peoples around the world as well. Those are three real serious matters. I could list others, but if you said, what impacts people in their lives every day, those three certainly do.
Washington Examiner: Do you think people understand the gravity of it?
Pompeo: They do today more than they did three or four years ago. And I think that’s in large measure due to President Trump and our team, trying to be just not alarmist, but candid about the threats that the Chinese communist party, just calling it out for what it is. I’ll give you another example. I went up to Wisconsin to talk with the Wisconsin state legislature. They have Chinese diplomats out of Chicago travel to Wisconsin, doing their level best to convince Wisconsin that, boy it is okay if the Chinese show up and steal your intellectual property. And it’s okay if companies go steal Wisconsin jobs, and I want to talk about how they did it, the mechanisms they used, the things that look to us we’re a free, open society. We love people from every walk of life, but these often aren’t what they are made out to be. They’re more nefarious. They are not straight in the system with our way of life in America. We ought not let that to continue.
So I did think our willingness to talk about this here at home has made a difference in the awareness of people in their everyday lives about how our country ought to think about what the Chinese communist party is and does. And then of course, we’ve seen what it’s done to our country with respect to this virus.
Washington Examiner: How do you approach your relationship with your counterparts in China with all this information at hand and how does that impact your negotiations with them?
Pompeo: So that’s a fantastic question. Our framework is this, we’re going to protect America and we are going to meet demand, fairness and reciprocity in how we interact with them. And that framework is the guide start when we interact with our Chinese counterparts. What we’re asking them to do is behave like a normal nation to compete on free, open reciprocal terms. And that framework on economic matters, on diplomatic matters, on those security matters is something that I think the whole world could understand. And you’ve seen that, and this is important Salena, we often get accused of America first being America alone.
But if you look today at the awareness all across the globe of the challenge that the Chinese communist party presents to the world and you can see it night and day. And President Trump gets real credit for this, we’ve told nations all across the world, no, don’t put Walway technology in your system. They will destroy the privacy of your people and countries now get it. We’ve told them if you take money from them to build out a port in your country, they will ultimately militarize it and countries across the world get it.
And so a framework is making sure that the whole world understands what’s going on, the goals and missions set that General Secretary Xi Jinping has for China. And it is now built out a coalition where you see it’s already left with very few people who will defend the access to the states because it’s not all jobs here, it’s done it in Europe, it’s done it in Southeast Asia and in Africa and in the middle East, all across the world people now have come to understand this challenge in ways that they did not before President Trump was in charge.
Washington Examiner: Explained what the Trump doctrine is and is it the groundwork for conservative foreign policy.
Pompeo: So take a look at the work we’ve done with NATO. We’ve said they, NATO’s important, NATO has been successful, but we were going to make sure that others pay their fair share to defend themselves and demand that they take on this burden in a way that’s consistent with their obligations. All of those things matter an awful lot. They do reflect this idea of American sovereignty realism. We can’t be all things to all people. We can’t continue to send our soldiers, sailors and marines everywhere and always, and if we do that, we’ll build out alliances and relationships that actually deliver good outcomes for American families. It’s something I’m really proud of, I think President Trump should get an enormous amount of credit for this. And I think history will reflect that. And I hope that we get four more years we wish to continue to deliver that on behalf of the American people.
Author: Salena Zito
Source: Washington Examiner: Interview: Pompeo says Twitter blocking New York Post’s Hunter Biden story is ‘dangerous’