Home/Daniel Larison/The Senate Must Refuse to Confirm Haspel

The Senate Must Refuse to Confirm Haspel

Sen. Rand Paul explains his reasons for opposing the Haspel and Pompeo nominations. These are his reasons for opposing Haspel:

People already distrust the CIA. So why on earth has this administration picked someone to run the Agency who was instrumental in running a place where people were tortured and then covered it up afterwards?

Multiple undisputed accounts have detailed how Gina Haspel not only ran a CIA “black site” in Thailand but also destroyed video evidence of torture.

The retraction of one anecdote from a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter doesn’t absolve her of wrongdoing and certainly doesn’t negate the rest of the facts, which remain the same. Those actions alone should preclude her from ever running the CIA.

I commend Sen. Paul for his opposition to these nominees, and I hope that others in the Senate join him. There may not be enough opposition to derail both nominations, but with any luck Haspel will not be confirmed. The Haspel nomination is particularly offensive for all the reasons that he gives here. Torture was and is a heinous crime, and any person involved in committing such a crime should have no place in our government, much less running a government agency. Peter Van Buren observes that this is happening because the previous administration failed to punish lawbreakers from the Bush era:

Arguing over just how much blood she has in her hands is a distraction from the fact that she indeed has blood on her hands.

Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remained classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes.

The question before the Senate is whether they will magnify the mistake of giving torturers a pass by giving one of them a promotion to the highest ranks of our government. They should follow Rand Paul’s lead and refuse to confirm Gina Haspel.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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