Will the Senate Confirm a War Criminal to Head the CIA?


President Trump’s nominee for director of the C.I.A., Gina Haspel on Capitol Hill on Monday for meetings with senators.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump’s nominee for director of the C.I.A., Gina Haspel on Capitol Hill on Monday for meetings with senators.CreditAlex Wong/Getty Images

So will the U.S. Senate confirm an unindicted war criminal to head the Central Intelligence Agency?

Because that’s what Gina Haspel is. Nothing in her testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee changed WC’s earlier assessment. Haspel even dodged the question of whether she believed that the torture in which she was directly complicit – repeatedly waterboarding a man, a human being, Abd al’Rahim al-Nashiri – was even immoral. Haspell exhibited no remorse — just regret that torture had drawn attention away from the “good work” the CIA was simultaneously doing.

She defended the destruction of the video tape evidence of the torture as necessary to protect the CIA officers and employees involved. Can we be perfectly clear about this: Haspell thinks it is just fine to commit a crime – destruction of evidence – to protect the criminals who committed a crime. Generalizing from that specific instance, she thinks it is okay for the CIA to commit crimes to hide its crimes.

Can we agree that is an extremely dangerous mindset for a CIA Director?

She trundled out the old euphemisms, too: “enhanced interrogation techniques” instead of calling it what it was: torture. “Special renditions” for kidnapping. “Enteral feeding” for forced feeding of hunger strikers, via a tube shoved down their throat. “Sleep management” for extended, damaging sleep deprivation. “Illegal combatants” for persons who were not illegal, not combatants and yet were kidnapped and subjected to torture.

She insisted that her moral compass was strong. The plain facts of the matter, underscored by her sworn testimony, demonstrate she lacks any moral compass at all.

It’s particularly ominous that a nominee for an organization that is necessarily secretive is an admitted law breaker. In a presidential  adminstration that demands personal loyalty over loyalty to country or Constitution, the absence of a strong moral compass is a recipe for disaster.

More than 100 former senior United States military leaders have signed a letter addressed to the senators asking that Haspel not be confirmed as the next director of the C.I.A. “We are deeply troubled by the prospect of someone who appears to have been intimately involved in torture being elevated to one of the most important positions of leadership in the intelligence community,” the former military leaders wrote.

Andrew Sullivan said, “If a public servant in a liberal democracy cannot state without reservation that torture is immoral, then she shouldn’t be confirmed in any position of authority. If there is no bright line here, there are no lines anywhere.”

WC can only agree.

 

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