The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment — Central Intelligence Agency

  • The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment — Central Intelligence Agency

The Gina Haspel controversy runs deeper than her appointment — Central Intelligence Agency

Gina Haspel, quite simply, is one of Trump's most capable and distinguished appointments.

A day before acting CIA Director Gina Haspel's confirmation hearing begins for her nomination to lead the agency, loud calls for the Senate to reject the nomination were compounded by demands from prominent progressives that any Democrats who vote to approve Haspel-who oversaw torture at the CIA-be voted out of office in primary elections. That comparison is apt only in that she could and should face hard questioning from the Senate, as Trump's one-time nominee to lead the Veterans Administration would have.

If confirmed, she would be the first woman to lead the agency.

But Haspel's opponents, including human rights groups and some former military and intelligence officials, say the Central Intelligence Agency hasn't fully disclosed her role in "enhanced interrogation" programs after the September 11 attacks.

"The waterboarding of Al Qaeda detainees in 2002 and 2003 is indelibly part of our nation's past, and we can not escape it". Trump revived that debate as a presidential candidate - saying "torture works" - to convince voters he'd be tough on terrorists, according to Gregg Bloche, a professor at Georgetown University's law school who signed a letter with Physicians for Human Rights opposing Haspel's nomination. Trump has said he favors them under certain circumstances.

Haspel met with Democratic Sens. Her confirmation hearing comes weeks after six Democrats voted in favor of Pompeo leading the State Department, despite his support for torture and penchant for warmongering. John McCain's absence and skepticism from Republican Sens.

Soufan, who now heads a private risk-assessment firm, asked whether Haspel wanted them destroyed to protect the identities of CIA personnel who worked there or because they would discredit the agency.

"I'm very concerned", said Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who says he's undecided.

Last week, the Washington Post reported that Haspel was considering withdrawing from the nomination process; it's not yet clear whether she has enough support in the closely divided Senate for confirmation.

And Trump and Haspel are the two to make it happen.

It took a pliant Secretary of State to not make waves about the "black sites" being set up and run outside the control of the local US ambassadors, generally the person in charge of all USA government activities, programs, and relationships with the host nation. As CIA chief, Pompeo also came out against waterboarding. "She is totally committed to the CIA's mission". "And if the Democrats can not unite to stop that, that will be further evidence of what they are".

After meeting with Haspel on Tuesday, Oregon Sen. Members of the Senate Intelligence Committee want to know more about her role in the 2002-2005 interrogation program, and her views of it.

"I am a strong believer in the importance of oversight", she will say.

The questions surrounding her nomination are more portentous. But Feinstein said Haspel supported the methods while they were being used and that she supervised one of the sites "where some of this "interrogation" - so-called - went on". Haspel's challenge will be in getting Senators and the public to look beyond existing media accounts about her alleged role in running the "black site" at which al Qaeda suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was repeatedly waterboarded, and her role in carrying out the destruction of videotapes showing the gruesome sessions. After his 2003 capture in Pakistan, he was held and interrogated at secret Central Intelligence Agency facilities in Afghanistan and Poland. It found the agency's techniques were far more brutal and less effective than publicly portrayed. He also said he appreciated that Haspel took the time to meet and declined to say whether any of the still-classified elements of her background were themselves disqualifying. Would she actually serve as a check on Trump?