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A2 | Friday, April 13, 2018
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.
Not to Be ‘Yes Man’
Mike Pompeo sought to reassure the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that he would be a sober
voice on foreign policy if confirmed as the next U.S. secretary of state and would carry
out President Donald Trump’s
agenda while not hesitating to
differ in internal debates.
After firing Rex Tillerson as
the chief U.S. diplomat, Mr.
Trump stressed that he
wanted a secretary of state
like Mr. Pompeo, who would
be on the “same wavelength.”
that Mr. Pompeo’s closeness to
the president could give him
leverage in international negotiations, but some also ex-
strikes and was more interested in negotiating than encouraging regime change.
Mr. Pompeo bridled at suggestions that he was a “hawk,”
arguing that as a former Army
officer who served in the 1991
Persian Gulf War, he knew the
horrors of combat.
“There’s no one like someone who’s served in uniform
who understands the value of
diplomacy and the terror and
tragedy that is war,” he said.
Currently the Central Intelligence Agency director, Mr.
Pompeo also portrayed himself
as a counterpoint to Mr. Tillerson, vowing to improve morale
at the State Department, fill
longstanding vacancies and
empower career diplomats.
If confirmed, one of Mr.
Pompeo’s early challenges will
be trying to resolve differences with key European allies
about ways to strengthen the
2015 international agreement
that constrains Iran’s nuclear
program. Mr. Pompeo said he
planned to take up the issue at
ALEX BRANDON/ASSOCIATED PRESS
BY MICHAEL R. GORDON
AND NANCY A. YOUSSEF
pressed concern during his
confirmation hearing Thursday that Mr. Trump’s decision
to surround himself with likeminded national-security officials carried risks.
“Many strong voices have
been terminated or resigned,”
said Sen. Bob Corker (R.,
Tenn.), chairman of the panel.
“It’s fair for our members to
ask whether your relationship
is rooted in a candid, healthy,
give-and-take dynamic, or
whether it’s based on deferential willingness to go along,”
Mr. Corker said.
Sen. Bob Menendez (D.,
N.J.) was more blunt, asking
Mr. Pompeo whether he would
advocate for diplomatic solutions or would serve as a “yes
man” who would take the U.S.
into unnecessary wars.
During hours of testimony,
Mr. Pompeo sought to distance
himself from some of the more
assertive comments he had issued as a lawmaker, insisting
that he favored strong diplomacy over preemptive military
CIA Director Mike Pompeo, left, told senators such as Bob Corker, right, that he favors strong diplomacy.
a meeting of the Group of 7
leading nations and at a gathering of North Atlantic Treaty
Organization foreign ministers, both later this month.
The U.S. and its allies appear to have resolved many of
their differences about ways
to limit Iran’s ballistic-missile
program and to reinforce the
need for thorough inspections.
But top officials have yet to
agree on ways to dissuade Iran
from expanding its capability
to enrich uranium in future
years, especially eight years
from now when Iran would be
allowed to start operating
more efficient centrifuges under the current agreement.
Mr. Trump has set May 12
as a self-imposed deadline for
strengthening the deal or beginning the process of formally
withdrawing from the accord.
In an exchange with lawmakers, Mr. Pompeo left open the
possibility that talks with allies might continue after Mr.
Trump decided to withdraw.
“If there’s no chance that
we can fix it, I will recommend
KEITH SRAKOCIC/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Enter Guilty Pleas
BUOYANT INDEED: Two African penguins hatched in December got a feel for the water Thursday at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.
Continued from Page One
public including about its
semiautonomous driving system, called Autopilot.
The safety board countered
that its procedures call for immediate recommendations if
emergency safety fixes are required.
The dispute between an unconventional Silicon Valley
electric-car maker and a small
government agency with sizable influence over transportation safety illustrates how
both sides are grappling with
new investigative and publicrelations issues stemming
from crashes of vehicles with
The safety board, with five
members confirmed by the
Senate, is responsible for investigating accidents across
various transportation modes
and then issuing nonbinding
recommendations to regulatory authorities.
Despite a sterling worldwide reputation for dissecting
aviation disasters, the NTSB
lacks extensive experience
looking into the complexities
of autonomous systems controlling passenger vehicles.
While the safety board has
no regulatory mandate, its findings and recommendations
have shaped aviation, railroad
and pipeline operations. It has
relied on companies and unions
to participate in accident
probes by contributing technical expertise, but those socalled parties to federal investigations have to follow strict
prohibitions against unilaterally
giving out information to the
public or prematurely announcing conclusions to the media.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal
(D., Conn.), who has long
delved into auto-safety issues,
said Thursday he was “troubled by Tesla’s reckless disre-
Unlike other car
makers, Tesla doesn’t
shy from confronting
pany’s signature products.
Tesla’s pugnacity toward
the NTSB reflects its iconoclastic approach to corporate
communications that often involves Chief Executive Elon
Musk assailing critics on Twitter, even joking about the
company’s financial ruin.
Unlike other car makers,
Tesla doesn’t shy from confronting government agencies.
On Thursday, it repeated an
earlier point Mr. Musk had
tweeted, calling the NTSB an
“advisory body” as opposed to
a “regulatory” one and describing its own relationship
with the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration,
the main federal agency that
oversees vehicle makers,
“strong and positive.”
Autopilot has garnered investor enthusiasm and helped
Tesla at one point surpass General Motors Co. as the U.S.’s
most valuable auto maker by
market capitalization. The
technology has also drawn
scrutiny, though, with the
NTSB determining after the
May 2016 fatal crash of a Tesla
car that Autopilot allowed a
driver to go long periods without hands on the wheel and ig-
JASPER JUINEN/BLOOMBERG NEWS
vice Inc. and a pilots union in
the probe of a crash of one of
the package-delivery company’s cargo planes after public comments were made by
each side about circumstances
surrounding the accident.
For Tesla, a departure from
the NTSB agreement risks diminishing the car maker’s influence over and insight into
an investigation that could ultimately reach critical conclusions about one of the com-
A Tesla employee driving one of the company’s Model S electric
vehicles, equipped with the semiautonomous Autopilot system.
U.S., allies draft plan for
military strike in Syria......... A8
Endangered Birds Find Their Sea Legs
gard” of its obligations to the
NTSB. “If autonomous-vehicle
manufacturers like Tesla cannot be trusted to fully cooperate, then it’s clear that Congress must act,” he said in a
Removals from NTSB party
agreements are rare. The
agency in 2014 revoked party
status for United Parcel Ser-
to the president that we do
our level best to work with
our allies to achieve a better
outcome and a better deal,”
Mr. Pompeo said.
Some experts have speculated that talks could continue
even if no agreement was
reached by May 12 because the
Trump administration would
have latitude about how
quickly to impose some key
Nominee for secretary
of state tells senators
he’ll back Trump, but
dissent when needed
nore warnings from the vehicle.
The NTSB is also investigating the January crash of a
Tesla Model S into the back of
a firetruck near Culver City,
Calif. The vehicle’s driver said
Autopilot was engaged at the
time of the crash, according to
local firefighters. And the
NTSB is probing the March 18
death of a pedestrian struck
and killed in Arizona by an
Uber Technologies Inc. selfdriving car, though not a
Tesla, that had a safety operator behind the wheel.
Tesla released information
about the March 23 fatal crash
under investigation several
times recently, suggesting that
the driver, Walter Huang, was
to blame because, though Autopilot was activated before
the crash, he still had at least
five seconds to take over the
wheel before it collided with a
The NTSB said such releases can prompt “speculation
and incorrect assumptions
about the probable cause of a
crash, which does a disservice
to the investigative process
and the traveling public.”
NTSB Chairman Robert
Sumwalt and Mr. Musk last
Friday appeared to defuse tension, with the men discussing
the agency’s investigative processes and recommendations
U.S. investigators made after
the May 2016 fatal Tesla crash,
according to a letter released
But on Wednesday, Tesla
came out with a stronger statement defending Autopilot and
blaming the incident on Mr.
Huang after his family hired a
lawyer to explore legal options.
“The crash happened on a
clear day with several hundred
feet of visibility ahead, which
means that the only way for
this accident to have occurred is
if Mr. Huang wasn’t paying attention to the road, despite the
car providing multiple warnings
to do so,” the company said.
The chief executive of a website
that authorities have dubbed an
“online brothel” pleaded guilty
Thursday to state and federal
charges including conspiracy and
money laundering, and agreed to
testify in prosecutions against others at Backpage.com, authorities
said. The company itself pleaded
guilty to human trafficking in Texas.
Authorities allege the site was
often used to traffic underage victims, while company officials said
they tried to scrub the website of
Chief Executive Officer Carl Ferrer will serve no more than five
years in prison under a California
agreement in which he pleaded
guilty to one count of conspiracy
and three counts of money laundering in California.
Also Thursday, Texas Attorney
General Ken Paxton said the company pleaded guilty to human trafficking.
The guilty pleas are the latest
developments against the company
founded by Michael Lacey, 69 years
old, and James Larkin, 68. The company founders were among Backpage officials indicted by a federal
grand jury in Arizona. Attorneys for
the company and Messrs. Ferrer,
Lacey and Larkin didn’t respond to
requests for comment.
Messrs. Lacey and Larkin remain
jailed in Arizona while they await
hearings on whether they should
be released after pleading not guilty
to federal charges alleging they
helped publish ads for sexual services.
Messrs. Lacey and Larkin also
earlier pleaded not guilty to the California charges after a judge last
year allowed the state to continue
with money-laundering charges.
Jobless Claims Hit
Initial jobless claims, a proxy
for layoffs across the U.S., decreased by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 233,000 in the
week ended April 7, the Labor
Department said Thursday. This
means claims have now held
below 300,000 for 162 consecutive weeks, cementing the longest streak for weekly records
dating back to 1967.
The consistently low claims
levels point to labor market
health because they mean relatively few Americans are losing
their jobs and applying for benefits to tide them over.
Across the Region
Drought is tightening its grip
across the Southwest as extreme
conditions spread from Oklahoma
to Utah, according to new federal
data released Thursday. On the
southern high plains, Oklahoma remains ground zero for the worst
drought conditions in the country.
About 20% of the state is facing
exceptional drought conditions, the
worst possible classification.
Investors in Alphabet Inc.
and others have renewed calls
for more transparency about
its YouTube business’s financial performance. In some editions Thursday, a Page One
What’s News item incorrectly
referred to YouTube investors.
In some editions Wednesday, special counsel Robert
Mueller’s last name was misspelled as Muller in one reference in a Page One article
about congressional lawmakers’ warnings against firing
the special counsel.
During March 2017, about
12,000 people were arrested
crossing the U.S. border illegally from Mexico. An April 6
U.S. News article about President Donald Trump’s plans to
send National Guard troops to
the border incorrectly said
Netflix Inc. is spending $8
billion on original and acquired
content in 2018. A Page One article Tuesday about efforts by
movie theaters to lure customers incorrectly said the amount
was only for original content.
Readers can alert The Wall Street Journal to any errors in news articles by
emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 888-410-2667.
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