Considering the quick pace with which senior staff officials have left the White House during its just over a year in existence, the building might as well be said to have a revolving door at its front.
Continuing the record high senior staff turnover rate established during the president’s first year in power, recent officials to have their impending departures revealed include Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose departure was revealed by the president in a tweet.
Mike Pompeo, who has been serving as CIA Director, was nominated to take his place, meaning that the president had the position of CIA Director to fill as well. For that spot, he picked Gina Haspel, who has drawn widespread criticism because of her past involvement in the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which are widely regarded as torture and were formally outlawed in 2015.
In light of her past, U.S. Senator John McCain sent a letter to Haspel on Friday demanding that she explain the exact circumstances of her involvement in the “enhanced interrogation” program.
Haspel, who currently serves as Deputy Director of the CIA, has both been involved in the leadership of a “black site” prison where torture was used and in the destruction of tapes documenting the torture of prisoners in American custody.
In light of these issues, McCain wants “a detailed account” from Haspel of her role in the CIA’s torture program from 2001 through 2009 and an explanation of her own personal beliefs about the matter. He also wants Haspel to make clear whether or not she is committed to upholding now established principles for the treatment of prisoners in American custody.
McCain, who himself was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for a number of years, made his own positions on the CIA’s so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” clear in the letter he sent to Haspel.
He wrote to Haspel:
‘Over the course of your career with the intelligence community, you have served in positions of responsibility that have intersected with the CIA’s program of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”… We now know that these techniques not only failed to deliver actionable intelligence, but actually produced false and misleading information. Most importantly, the use of torture compromised our values, stained our national honor, and threatened our historical reputation.’
Haspel is not the only Trump nominee to face questions over just how committed they are to maintaining law and order over sparking conflict.
On Thursday, the president made it official that he would be replacing his national security adviser General H.R. McMaster with former United States Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
Bolton has in the past expressed support for preemptive strikes on both North Korea and Iran, a support that when coupled with the president’s own history of aggression towards those two countries may very well be posed to create a toxic mixture.
As for Haspel, McCain wants answers from the CIA Director nominee by April 2. Haspel’s confirmation hearings are expected to kick off before the Senate Intelligence Committee, of which McCain himself is an “ex officio” member, next month.
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