This morning, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with Mike Pompeo, who previously served as the Director of the CIA in yet another one of his frequent cabinet shakeups.
In pursuit of his apparent quest to name the most heinous people he possibly can to lead our nation’s myriad agencies and departments, Donald Trump named former deputy director Gina Haspel to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.
Haspel is most well-known for her role in overseeing one of the CIA’s infamous black site prisons in Thailand, code-named “Cat’s Eye,” where two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, were subjected to horrifying torture.
The New York Times reports that “Mr. Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide.”
Haspel later personally ordered the destruction of videotapes containing evidence of the torture, a decision which led to her being blocked by the Senate Intelligence Committee from being placed in charge of the CIA’s clandestine operations.
Now she’s being put in charge of the entire agency, and it comes as quite a surprise to see notorious intelligence community apologist John McCain be the loudest voice speaking out against her.
The ailing Senator took to Twitter to issue a harsh rebuke to the Trump administration for their choice.
The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history. The Senate must do its job in scrutinizing the record & involvement of Gina Haspel in this disgraceful program. https://t.co/p2eZfMDF5N
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) March 13, 2018
Having been subjected to gruesome torture himself while being incarcerated in a North Vietnamese prison camp after being shot down in 1967, few people know firsthand the unimaginable horrors and cruelty of torture like McCain does.
It is deeply disappointing to see that one of the most prominent voices of dissent and conscience is coming from a Republican rather than a member of opposition party.
But far from hitting what should be an obvious lay-up, Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) instead demurred, announcing that he wanted to “hear from” Pompeo and Haspel first before calling on Democrats to oppose their nominations. “We’ve had a long personal talk. Everything I know is that she has been a good deputy director of the CIA” said Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
JUST IN: Schumer says at this point he is not calling in Democrats to oppose Pompeo and Haspel, but wants to hear from them first pic.twitter.com/mY0DSYHF7D
— Reuters Politics (@ReutersPolitics) March 13, 2018
What Schumer might possibly “want to hear” from Pompeo, a right-wing religious extremist in the pocket of the Koch Brothers or his waterboarding associate is beyond any of us.
The CIA’s torture program under the Bush administration is indeed one of the darkest chapters in the depressingly lengthy scroll of crimes against humanity committed by the United States in its rather short history. President Obama’s failure to prosecute any of those responsible for the violations of both international law and every moral code ever conceived is one of his greatest failures, and we are now forced to deal with the consequences of that action.
We applaud John McCain for standing up and speaking out against Haspel’s nomination. Of course, knowing John, he’ll probably vote to confirm her anyway, but in this political atmosphere of knee-jerk obeisance to the intelligence community, his dissent is more important now than ever before.