Apr 18 2018

Problems in Tortureland

You see, the thing to remember about Gina Haspel is that she’s a murdering, torturing War Criminal who not only supervised those acts herself at the CIA Black Site in Thailand but also, when returned to Langley, advocated, performed, and wrote the justification for destroying the evidence of her crimes.

She is no better than Reinhard Heydrich, Heinrich Himmler, or Lavrentiy Beria, in fact she is exactly the same.

Haspel confirmation hearing for CIA chief put off until May
By ELANA SCHOR, Politico

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Wednesday that Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing will take place next month, additional time that could help the CIA director nominee assuage bipartisan concerns about her record on brutal interrogation practices.

President Donald Trump nominated Haspel last month, but her paperwork formally arrived in the Senate just this week. Senators in both parties are continuing to press the CIA to reveal more details about Haspel’s involvement in the George W. Bush-era “enhanced interrogation techniques” program, in which she played a key role in the use of harsh tactics tantamount to torture on detained terrorist suspects.

Burr said in a brief interview Wednesday that he would wait to hold Haspel’s confirmation hearing until after a recess scheduled for the last week in April.

That allows the Trump administration more time to schedule in-person meetings for the nominee, who has served as the CIA’s deputy director since last year. The agency has not indicated what, if any, new information it intends to share with senators about Haspel’s record.

Oh, and Mike Pompeo, current head of the CIA, may not be able to be confirmed as the new Secretary of State.

The Humbling of Mike Pompeo
by Russell Berman, The Atlantic
Apr 17, 2018

CIA Director Mike Pompeo’s nomination to serve as secretary of state is facing opposition from most Democrats and a key Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, raising the possibility that he could become the first top diplomat in the nation’s history to win confirmation without the public endorsement of the panel that oversees the State Department.

No Democrats have come out in support of Pompeo, who has failed to win any converts since he testified at his confirmation hearing last week. Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, who voted to approve Pompeo as CIA director a year ago, announced on Sunday that he would oppose his bid to replace Rex Tillerson, and early Tuesday evening, Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire followed suit. Fellow Democratic Senators Cory Booker of New Jersey, Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon have also announced their opposition, while Senator Chris Coons of Delaware is publicly undecided.

The first indication that Pompeo could face a tricky confirmation battle came almost immediately after Trump announced his nomination, when GOP Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky declared his opposition based on Pompeo’s previous defense of torture and support for the NSA’s government spying programs. Paul gave no indication that he relented on Pompeo when he questioned him during last week’s confirmation hearing; he jousted with the CIA director over the constitutionality of Trump’s military strikes on Syria and over the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

“My biggest problem with your nomination is I don’t think it reflects the millions of people who voted for President Trump who actually voted for him because they thought he’d be different,” Paul told him.

Republicans have just a 51-49 majority in the Senate overall, and in the Foreign Relations Committee, Paul could hold the decisive vote. If he sides with all Democrats against confirmation, Pompeo would become the first nominee for secretary of state not to win approval from the panel since it began keeping records of such votes in 1925. Interestingly, the last senior diplomatic nominee to fall short in the Foreign Relations Committee is now Trump’s national-security adviser, John Bolton. The panel rejected President George W. Bush’s nomination of Bolton to serve as U.N. ambassador in 2005, and Republicans failed to defeat a Democratic filibuster to confirm him on the floor. Bush ended up installing Bolton as a recess appointment, and he served in the post for nearly a year and a half.

Senators in both parties expect Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to schedule a full floor vote on Pompeo’s nomination regardless of how the Foreign Relations Committee votes. If Paul and all 49 Democrats voted no, Pompeo would go down unless Senator John McCain of Arizona made an unlikely return from his months-long absence due to brain cancer. McCain hasn’t voted in the Senate at all in 2018.

But the assumption is that vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in red states this fall—like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, among others—will vote to confirm Pompeo and save him, and Trump, from an embarrassing defeat. Those three voted along with 14 other Democrats to confirm him as CIA director, but they have yet to take a position on his nomination for secretary of state.

Should that happen, Pompeo would become only the second Cabinet officer on record to win confirmation by the full Senate after an unfavorable committee vote, according to the Senate Historical Office. The only other example was former Vice President Henry Wallace, who was nominated by President Franklin Roosevelt to serve as secretary of commerce in 1945 after he had dumped him as his running mate in favor of Harry Truman the year before. The last time the Senate actually rejected a presidential Cabinet nominee was in 1989, when President George H.W. Bush’s nomination of John Tower for secretary of defense went down in defeat. (Many other nominees have withdrawn once it was clear they wouldn’t secure enough votes on the floor.)

Not to mention Pompeo’s outspoken and unrepentant Islamophobia.

The only Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee who are publicly undecided are “Democrat” Chris Coons of Delaware and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona.