“Bloody Gina” Haspel shockingly demonstrated how well qualified for the job of CIA Director she really is. Well prepared for her examination, she stuck to her notes and outlined the direction she wants the intelligence gathering agency to head. She unequivocally promised Congress that just because President Trump nominated her, she wouldn’t resume torture techniques like waterboarding. “I would not restart, under any circumstances, an interrogation program at CIA.”
She proceeded to body-slam Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Ca) over a “false report,” about her stint as a Central Intelligence Agency station chief, with a claw raking “fact check.” She earned her nickname in 2002, working undercover at the “cat’s eye” secret detention facility in Thailand.
“This book says you’re in charge of this program I find problematic, and which I’ve been told to talk about by the DNC higher-ups,” Feinstein lectured. Haspel wasted no time slapping the senator down.
“That book was more fictional than ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.’ I’m sorry, it’s just not true. It’s so untrue even the Washington Post had to hex it.”
“Yeah, but let me read you a section from the book,” Feinstein insisted. “Who sold you the edibles?” Haspel quipped back. One pundit compared the response as the equivalent of saying “actually, the facts you’re citing are two-day-old cat poop,” in a very diplomatic fashion.
Gina Haspel fact checks Senator Feinstein in real time over false and retracted reports of her role in the CIA's interrogation program pic.twitter.com/ZkoZQctB1D
— Ryan Saavedra ?? (@RealSaavedra) May 9, 2018
“Having served in that tumultuous time, I can offer you my personal commitment, clearly and without reservation, that under my leadership, on my watch, CIA will not restart such a detention and interrogation program,” Haspel promised the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Other “government entities” are responsible for “interrogations of terrorism suspects,” she vows, not the CIA.
After serving as Deputy Director of the agency under Mike Pompeo, she stepped up into the acting Director role when his appointment as Secretary of State was announced. President Trump recommended making her promotion permanent.
The position once held by the elder George Bush requires the skills of administration to run the show, a talent for clandestine operations that the public is likely to find offensive, and the ability to keep Congress informed without saying too much.
The CIA director’s primary job is to keep Congress satisfied, not just with the results but the methods used to obtain them. Haspel stonewalled Democratic distractions and reassured Republicans with equal ease at her Senate confirmation hearing on Wednesday.
In the wake of the 911 terror attack on the World Trade Center, al Qaeda extremists were subjected to “enhanced interrogation” techniques like waterboarding.
Torture was admittedly distasteful but also arguably necessary to dislodge critically sensitive information. Democrats on the committee grilled Haspel about the wisdom of the practice incessantly.
Senator Kamala Harris (D-Ca.) demanded a “yes or no” answer on whether Haspel considered waterboarding immoral but Haspel didn’t fall into the trap.
The CIA learned “tough lessons” she noted. “I’m not going to sit here with the benefit of hindsight and judge the very good people who made hard decisions who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances at the time.”
Another major controversy surrounds a video tape that was made of various “enhanced interrogation” sessions in the Thailand facility. Haskel was the one who gave the order to have the tape physically destroyed.
Liberal Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) turned up the scorching heat on his blowtorch. “Doesn’t that feel like a cover-up?” he interrogated.
Haskel didn’t even blink. Not to her, it didn’t. To her, it was protecting valuable undercover assets. “I never watched the tapes, but I understood that our officers’ faces were on them and it was very dangerous,” she effortlessly countered.
She was absolutely in favor of destroying the tapes in 2005 while working as chief of staff to the head of the clandestine service department, Jose Rodriguez.
She was petrified that an “irresponsible leak” of the video sooner or later would “reveal the identities of CIA agents and put them at risk.” That is exactly the kind of concern we want to see from the top executive of our spy agency.
Another lawmaker wanted to know what she would do if President Trump ordered her to do something “morally objectionable.” She wouldn’t do it, she vows. “My moral compass is strong. I would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal. I would absolutely not permit it.”
Republican Susan Collins (R-Maine) asked if President Trump ordered waterboarding used on a “high-value terrorism suspect,” what Haspel would do. “I do not believe the president would ask me to do that,” Haspel countered.
Haspel remained calm and confidant throughout the hearing. Often her response to questions was a standard objection that the material was classified. On the things that were not classified she was refreshingly forthcoming.
A separate hearing was held with the appropriate measures to discuss confidentially all of the classified secret material that the Intelligence Committee wanted to ask her about.
Considering the herd of moles running rampant on Capitol Hill these days, we can expect details of that classified meeting to leak out to the media overnight. It’s no wonder she was worried about that tape getting out.
She needs at least 51 votes in the 100 seat Senate to keep the job. Republicans hold 51 seats but Rand Paul has already declared opposition. No Democrats have expressed any support yet but there is hope that a handful of moderates will clear the way for her confirmation.