President Trump doubled down on his support for his CIA Director nominee, Gina Haspel, early Monday morning. The recent declassification of a CIA memorandum regarding Ms. Haspel and her role in the destruction of videotapes of CIA detainee interrogations - an action that was not authorized by the CIA Director, Department of Justice, or White House - makes this request all the more important. That comparison is apt only in that she could and should face hard questioning from the Senate, as Mr. Trump's one-time nominee to lead the Veterans Administration would have.
We don't prejudge Ms. Haspel's fitness to lead the CIA, but we do have real concerns about the possibility that the agency could return to what Senator McCain aptly described as one of the darkest chapters in our nation's history. Eventually the tension seemed to ease, and as of now her nomination stands, the sources said. Haspel ran a "black site" in Thailand, at a time when the USA enhanced interrogation program included waterboarding and other torture practices for terror suspects.
The White House has repeatedly come to Haspel's defense as Democrats push for her to withdraw her name from consideration following the revelation that she was a chief of base at a covert detention site in Thailand, where two terrorism suspects were subjected to waterboarding - a technique that simulates drowning.
"Given that Ms. Haspel, as the current Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, is in the conflicted position of serving as the classification authority over potentially derogatory information related to her own nomination, we can think of no more appropriate situation for you to serve as the relevant authority - as outlined in EO 13526", said the senators.
She also apparently feared repeating the fate of Ronny Jackson, who withdrew his nomination for Veterans Affairs secretary amid questions over alleged past misconduct. A Senate committee hearing on her nomination is scheduled for Wednesday. People who understand the authentic Gina Haspel - who worked with her, functioned with her, who helped her confront terrorism, Russian Federation and several different threats to the nation - they almost certainly support.
More than 50 former intelligence, national security, and government officials from Republican and Democratic administrations supported Haspel's nomination in an April letter signed by, among others, former CIA directors and acting directors John Brennan, Leon Panetta, Michael Morell, Gen. Michael Hayden, George Tenet, Porter Goss, and John McLaughlin.
These are very unsafe times, so choices are restricted.
"Haspel was not the architect of the CIA's enhanced interrogations".
Although Haspel's path forward remains unclear, Senate Democrats' opposition against her follows the pattern they have followed against most of Trump's nominees.