One of the most hawkish members of Congress could soon become the new head of the CIA, according to senior Trump administration officials quoted in the New York Times. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican, is potentially being tapped to replace current CIA chief Mike Pompeo, who in turn is reportedly being considered as a replacement at State Department for the hapless Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Cotton’s record of extreme public statements on both foreign and domestic policy is no secret. But one particular episode from his past points to a potentially dangerous convergence of views with President Donald Trump. In 2013, as part of a bill sanctioning Iran over its nuclear program, Cotton attempted to introduce an amendment specifically designed to punish the families of sanctions violators, “to include a spouse and any relative to the third degree,” specifically identifying “parents, children, aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces, grandparents, great grandparents, grandkids, great grandkids.”
The alignment of a bellicose president like Trump with someone like Cotton could be dangerous, both to America’s international standing and to the lives of people caught in the crosshairs of U.S. military policy.
In his justification for the amendment, Cotton cited the fact that individuals targeted for sanctions measures sometimes shift assets to family members as a means of escaping restrictions. To solve this problem, Cotton’s amendment would have targeted family members automatically — under provisions that would lead to a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. “There would be no investigation,” Cotton said at the time. “If the prime malefactor of the family is identified as on the list for sanctions, then everyone within their family would automatically come within the sanctions regime, as well.” Cotton called the principle “corruption of blood.”