Congressman Mike Pompeo joins me today to talk the recent Russian plane crash in Syria allegedly caused by a bomb created by ISIS.
The audio: 11-04hhs-pompeo
HH: I’m joined now by a member of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas 4th Congressional district. Congressman Pompeo, thank you for joining me as always.
MP: Hugh, it’s great to be with you.
HH: Have you had a chance to be briefed on this yet and if so, what can you tell us or not tell us?
MP: So I haven’t had a formal briefing yet, but I will tell you that what we’ve seen so far indicates that this was likely an internal explosion and the source of that I do not know.
HH: Now your colleague, Adam Schiff – your colleague both from the Benghazi Committee and the House Intelligence Committee – was out on CNN this afternoon saying, “Don’t jump to conclusions.” They always say that, but I don’t know why not if the U.S. intelligence agencies are leaking hard as Bob Baier said they normally don’t do that to get people spun up. The do the opposite don’t they?
MP: That would certainly be the pattern. I think that’s fair to say. I understand why Mr. Schiff said that, I think we’re all hoping that that’s not the case. But I can tell you that every indication that I have seen to date would be consistent with what is being described while I have no formal notice or formal briefing on that, it sure looks that way.
HH: Now if it in fact, it turns out to be a bomb, I assume – just walk me through what you as a member of the House Intelligence Committee will want to know. I think I’d want know of size, formation, which part of the plane it was on, in order to alert our international allies to what new threats might be out there, but what sort of questions would you be asking?
MP: So those are certainly important, you’ll will want to know the nature of the attack. We’ll very quickly be able to determine the source as well, that is if history is any indications, we’ll be pretty quick to be able to identity where components came from, how they were sourced, where they came, begin to track this back to the source as well. That’s obviously incredibly important so that we can not only prevent another one from being on the plane but identifying who did this, and then, if we can get the president to be serious about this threat, begin to tackle holding these folks accountable for the action they took this day and preventing them from doing it again.
HH: Now what’s tragic about this, but also complicating is that Russia was the target and Russia has joined the fight against ISIS. Are they sending Vladimir Putin a message?
MP: It could well be, I guess we’re jumping the gun a little bit, but I think that could well be the case, but make no mistake about it, they are endeavoring to send us messages as constantly as well. This is certainly a battle that is against the West, and it just happens as you describe and has been reported, they have decided in this case to go after a Russian airplane.
HH: Now Mike Pompeo, another guest has told me that the most dangerous man in the world lives in Yemen, the most sophisticated bomb maker in the world is a Yemen unlawful combatant fighting alongside the al-Qaeda affiliate there. Is that your understanding as well?
MP: Yes, I’m not sure if you can rank-and-order them, I’m not sure if I have a number one, but it is absolutely the case that we have known, sophisticated explosive device manufacturers and bomb makers, that is, the folks who put those manufactured items together, are located in Yemen. We know the history of the Iranian program that killed hundreds of Americans who were fighting in Iraq. We know that there are half-dozen of these guys and it’s possible that this manufactured by one of those half-dozen.
HH: I think a lot of Americans forget, Congressman, but I’m getting ready for my Veterans’ Day Semper Fi Fund show, the incredible sophistication of the terrorist enemy when it comes to explosive devises, and now they have industrial centers like Mosul under their complete control. Is there an upside limit to the sophistication they can reach when they are unmolested in a heavy industry city.
MP: Almost none, Hugh. It’s one of the things that I tell folks when I’m back in Kansas that if the things that happen in Mosul don’t stay in Mosul, this capacity, this unfettered access to intellect, to resources, to chemicals, there’s no reason to expect that they won’t ultimately develop chemical weapon systems. Their sophistication ratchets up along a parallel axis to American inaction, and that’s unfortunately what we have now allowed them to metastasize in ways that will come back to haunt us for years and years to come.
HH: And has the Caliphate in your briefings been able to attract PhD level scientists? Do we find sophisticated technological professionals, whether PhD or Masters or simple practitioners and craftsmen flocking to the jihad?
MP: Flocking might overstate it, but they are certainly able to attract them. The other thing they now have the resources to do, Hugh, is purchase them, right? You can either hire or contract for that skill set, and this case, they now have the resources to do both of those two things.
HH: Do you believe the deployment of 50 special operators to Syria is a significant step, Mike Pompeo or is it a gesture?
MP: It’s a gesture at most. I would probably argue it’s worse than a gesture. We’re putting folks at risk without any strategy for solving this problem, so it will have no material impact on the situation on the ground in Syria or Iraq.
HH: Mike Pompeo, depressing, but I appreciate the up-to-the-minute news on a breaking story like this. Thank you, Congressman.
End of Interview