Earlier today, the bombshell revelation of former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s firing took the media and policymaking world by storm, as the sudden decision by President Trump to relieve Tillerson of his duties was unexpected. Despite having had conflicts with one another in the past, it had seemed as if Trump and Tillerson had come to terms with their differences. However, as Trump believed that Tillerson would not be an ideal counterpart to partake in the upcoming meetings with North Korea, he instead decided that promoting CIA director Mike Pompeo would be more beneficial for the monumental talks.
With Pompeo now scheduled to leave his post at the CIA, President Trump’s nomination for the next person to head up the agency, Gina Haspel, has raised concerns among experts and lawmakers familiar with the nominee and her track record on certain dubious values. More specifically, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) emerged on Tuesday to condemn the nomination made by the president, claiming that Haspel’s history and views on torture are not only extensive in nature, but have been largely unexplained by the nominee herself.
According to a Washington Post report:
‘Haspel’s selection faced immediate opposition from some lawmakers and human rights groups because of her prominent role in one of the agency’s darkest chapters. Haspel was in charge of one of the CIA’s “black site” prisons where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other harrowing interrogation measures widely condemned as torture.
When those methods were exposed and their legality came under scrutiny, Haspel was among a group of CIA officials involved in the decision to destroy videotapes of interrogation sessions that left some detainees on the brink of physical collapse.’
John McCain on Haspel: Torture of detainees "was one of the darkest chapters in American history" and Haspel her involvement in this process. (She led a "black site" where people were waterboarded.) pic.twitter.com/nfjLkSqucN
— Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) March 13, 2018
McCain, who himself was previously a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War and was tortured during his captivity, has both denounced Haspel’s nomination for the CIA role, and stated that her views and stances on torture must be explained to be better understood.
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
Haspel was found to play a major role in the operating of a secret torture prison in Thailand during her time at the CIA, with the American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights organizations claiming that her direct involvement in torturous actions disqualifies her from assuming the CIA director position. McCain is now claiming that the nominee for the position must explain herself to lawmakers, and make it unequivocally clear that she will uphold the prohibition against torture and other abusive techniques against any imprisoned individuals.
Here's McCain and Graham evaluating some of the activity CIA nominee Gina Haspel had a role in. "A stain on America's honor." pic.twitter.com/Scz5dCNsiu
— Michael McAuliff (@mmcauliff) March 13, 2018
McCain has been a critic of the Trump administration from day one, with the initial interactions between the now president and senator involved Trump’s attacking of McCain for being captured during a time of war. Since then, McCain has remained vocal on both the divisive civil and human rights policies that the president has promoted, with the nomination of Haspel being the most recent one.
McCain says Haspel needs to pledge to abide by prohibitions against torture. “The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history,” citing her record in that period during Bush years
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 13, 2018
Although McCain expressed support of Pompeo’s capability to assume the role of Secretary of State, he doubled down on his reluctance to approve Haspel for her promoted position. If confirmed, Haspel will become the first woman to have held the director position at the CIA in the agency’s history.
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