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Secretary of State for the United States Micheal Pompeo’s visit to Sri Lanka raised many questions and stirred up controversy as the move comes just before the US general election and just after the visit of a high level Chinese delegation in Sri Lanka. Much has been said about the meeting, but little has been reported in Sri Lanka about the US Secretary. Here are some lesser known facts about Mike Pompeo. 

  1. He’s a former CIA Director 

Mike Pompeo served as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from January 2017 to April 2018 under the Trump Administration immediately before his appointment as the US Secretary of State. BBC reported Pompeo to be “Trump's loyalist diplomat and ex-spymaster”. BBC also reports that Pompeo has played down findings by the CIA that the Russians attempted to influence the 2016 US election in the past, but stated that he has shown a willingness to contradict the president on the issue.

  1. He is believed to be a future presidential candidate

Foreign media has reported that Mike Pompeo is “shamelessly campaigning preparing 2024 presidential bid behind Donald Trump's back”, and observers point out many ways in which the US Secretary has decided to break away from tradition. From meeting potential donors in secret while on official trips to making heavily politicized speeches while in an office with strict guidelines on impartiality, it seems to be full steam ahead for Mike Pompeo’s 2024 bid. 

  1. He got rid of his department watchdog 

Mike Pompeo was behind the dismissal of State Department inspector general Steve Linick - something which he is yet to explain. At the time of his dismissal, Linick was investigating at least three claims with regards to Pompeo according to foreign media reports, one of which was Pompeo’s reported use of official staff to run personal errand and walk his dog which amounts to an inappropriate use of tax funds.

  1. He delivered a speech in support of Trump’s campaign while on an official trip to Israel 

In a major break with tradition, Mike Pompeo delivered a speech in support of US President Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention (RNC) to support President Trump’s reelection bid. He is the first Secretary of State to do so while in office - a move which his predecessors avoided in order to remain bipartisan. Bloomberg reports that the move violates State Department guidance which prohibits participation in political conventions and on politicking while on official travel. 

  1. He criticized Obama on a visit to Cairo 

In a move which departs from most of the accepted practices related to diplomacy, Mike Pompeo criticized the former US government led by then President Barack Obama. New York Times reports that he told a group of university students in Cairo that “the age of self-inflicted American shame is over”. The same article also reports that Mr. Pompeo blasted Obama for “fundamental misunderstandings” about the region that “underestimated the tenacity and viciousness of radical Islamism.”

Photograph: usatoday

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