By Dan Calabrese
At least it’s working. I suppose it would be even worse if she was saying these things and the Democrats still took her down.
And hey, the vote’s still a few days away. Don’t underestimate them.
For now, though, it appears Gina Haspel has decided to go ahead and read the anti-torture hostage video in order to ensure her confirmation. The political class – the same people who knew about enhanced interrogation and expressed no concerns as long as it wasn’t public – now demand nothing less. And Haspel wants the job, so we have to accept this:
In a letter to the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Ms. Haspel said one of the “hard lessons since 9/11” was the costs of the agency’s use of torture, which she called “enhanced interrogation.”
“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” she wrote. “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the C.I.A. should have undertaken. The United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that.”
After receiving the letter, Mr. Warner announced on Tuesday afternoon that he would support her confirmation. Minutes later, another Democrat, Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, said she, too, would vote for Ms. Haspel.
Against that backdrop, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, said the full Senate would vote on her confirmation at the end of the week — earlier than expected. The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to vote on her confirmation on Wednesday.
The clearing path to confirmation for Ms. Haspel is adding a striking new chapter in the saga of the agency’s use of torture after the Sept. 11 attacks, and the years of investigations and recriminations that followed.
In 2002, she ran a C.I.A. prison in Thailand during which a captured Qaeda detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of orchestrating the 2000 bombing of the American destroyer Cole off the coast of Yemen, was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive techniques. She was also involved in the agency’s destruction of tapes of interrogation sessions in 2005.
Mr. Warner called his decision “difficult” and said there were “valid questions” about her record. But he said he was persuaded — including by things she had said privately about the torture program, and by her support among Obama-era and career intelligence officials — that she would “stand up” to Mr. Trump if he ordered her to do something illegal or immoral.
Current law bans torture, so Haspel couldn’t have made use if it anyway. But that wasn’t good enough for Senate Democrats. They wanted her to retroactively condemn its use during the height of the Bush-led War on Terror as a way of scoring an after-the-fact political point against W. Haspel knows full well that enhanced interrogation produced useful intelligence, and can’t possibly believe what she said in that letter to Mark Warner. But she probably figures there’s no sense letting the leadership of the CIA go to a less-qualified person over a debate about something that’s not an option anymore anyway.
It’s a shame this country so badly lost its nerve in the fight against terrorism, to the point where we can’t even stomach the idea of giving a terrorist harsh treatment in order to extract information that could save lives. And I’m honestly not even sure that’s the mindset of the majority of Americans. But it’s the mindset of most of the people we keep electing. so here we are.
At least she’ll get confirmed. Hopefully she’ll run the CIA the way we all thought she would before she had to give Warner his desired pound of flesh.
Dan writes Christian spiritual warfare novels and does all kinds of other weird things too. Follow all his activity by liking him on Facebook!