US Renews Protection for Former Secretary of State, Aide Over Iran Threats

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has once again renewed taxpayer-funded protection for former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and one of his top aides, who have been the targets of persistent threats from Iran. 

The State Department notified Congress late last month that the threats against Pompeo and Trump administration Iran envoy Brian Hook remain “serious and credible” and continue to warrant government-provided security details. 

The notifications are dated December 19 but were not transmitted to Congress until December 22. They were obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday. 

Tensions in the Middle East have soared since the outbreak of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and escalated further Wednesday after dozens of people were killed in blasts in Iran at a memorial service for Iran Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Soleimani, who was assassinated in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020. 

Pompeo and Hook were the public faces of the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran after former President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018. Iran has blamed both for the killing of Soleimani. 

The notifications to Congress, signed by Deputy Secretary of State for Management Richard Verma, marked the 16th time the State Department has extended protection to Hook since he left office in January 2021 and the 13th 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 AP reported in March 2022 that the State Department was paying more than $2 million per month to provide 24-hour security to Pompeo and Hook. The latest determinations do not give a dollar amount for the protection. 

The notifications do not specifically identify Iran as the source of the threats, but Iranian officials have long vented anger at Pompeo and Hook for leading the Trump administration’s policy against Iran, including designating the Revolutionary Guard Corps a “foreign terrorist organization,” subjecting it to unprecedented sanctions and orchestrating the Soleimani assassination.