January 11, 2023
FILE – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to the media before departing from al-Bateen Air Base in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Sept. 19, 2019, as U.S. special representative on Iran Brian Hook, left, listens.
By Matthew Lee | The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration has reinstated former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one of his top Iranian advisers under government protection following ongoing threats against them from Iran.
In separate communications sent to Congress late last week, the State Department said the threats against Pompeo and Brian Hook remained “serious and credible.” Hook served as the Trump administration’s special envoy to Iran.
Along with Pompeo, Hook was the public face of the US “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision in 2018 to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran also blamed both men for the January 2020 US assassination of Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and vowed revenge.
The Jan. 5 notifications to Congress marked the 10th time the State Department has extended protections to Hook since he left office in January 2021 and the seventh time it has been extended to Pompeo. The discrepancy arises because Pompeo, as a former cabinet secretary, automatically had government security for several months after leaving office.
The notifications, obtained by The Associated Press, were signed by Acting Assistant Secretary of State John Bass.
“I hereby state that the specific threat regarding former Secretary of State Michael Pompeo persists,” Bass wrote. He used identical language to refer to the threat against Hook.
The AP reported in March 2022 that the State Department was paying more than $2 million a month to provide round-the-clock security for Pompeo and Hook. Recent investigations did not turn up a dollar amount for the protection.
Even as the Biden administration has made these determinations and spent money protecting Pompeo and Hook, it has continued to press ahead with indirect talks with Iran to salvage the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, from which Trump withdrew in 2018.
Those talks have stalled for many months and the government is pessimistic they will resume anytime soon. The government has blamed Iran for the collapse of the talks and said it made demands outside the framework of the deal, which gave Tehran billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for curbing its nuclear program.
Meanwhile, Iran has launched a massive crackdown on anti-government protests sparked by the death in custody of a woman accused of violating a law requiring women to wear headscarves in public.
The notifications do not specifically identify Iran as the source of the threats, but Iranian officials have long vented their anger at Pompeo and Hook for citing the Trump administration’s policies against Iran, including labeling the Revolutionary Guard Corps as “foreign.” Terrorist organization” to which they submit unprecedented sanctions and orchestrated the assassination attempt on Soleimani.