US extends protection for ex-Trump aides from Iranian threats

US extends protection for ex-Trump aides from Iranian threats

US extends protection for ex-Trump aides from Iranian threats

The Biden administration again extended government protection to former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one of his top Iranian aides due to continued Iranian threats against them.

In separate notices 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 for Iran.

Along with Pompeo, Hook was the public face of the US “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran following President Donald Trump’s 2018 decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. Iran also blamed the pair for the US killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020 and vowed revenge.

The January 5 notifications to Congress marked the 10th time the State Department has extended the protection to Hook since he left office in January 2021 and the seventh time it has been extended to Pompeo. The discrepancy comes 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 Under Secretary of State John Bass.

“I hereby determine 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 24-hour security for Pompeo and Hook. The latest determinations did not give a dollar amount for protection.

Even though the Biden administration made those decisions and spent the money protecting Pompeo and Hook, it continued to advance the indirect talks with Iran aimed at salvaging the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump swore. was retired in 2018.

Those talks have been stalled for several months now and the administration is pessimistic about their resumption soon. The administration blamed Iran for the failed talks, saying it raised demands outside the deal, which gave Tehran billions in sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Iran has launched a sweeping crackdown on anti-government protests sparked by the death of a woman in custody accused of breaking 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 expressed anger at Pompeo and Hook for directing Trump administration policy against Iran, including naming the Corps Revolutionary Guards as a “foreign terrorist organization”, subjecting it to unprecedented sanctions and orchestrating the assassination of Soleimani.

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