Donald Trump intends to nominate Gina Haspel to head the CIA. While a female head of the CIA would indeed be historic, there are some other critical considerations involved here:
Donald Trump’s choice for his next CIA director was involved in its infamous torture program, a history that is already beginning to complicate her confirmation before the only panel to thoroughly investigate torture: the Senate intelligence committee.
The intended elevation of Gina Haspel, who would become the first woman to lead the CIA, comes as part of a broader reshuffling of Trump’s foreign-policy team that one diplomat told The Daily Beast was likely to enable Trump’s “worst foreign-policy instincts.”
Mike Pompeo, the current CIA director, will succeed Rex Tillerson at the State Department, in the Cabinet reshuffle, elevating Haspel.
Haspel, whom under Pompeo became the agency’s deputy director, briefly ran the off-the-books prison in Thailand used as a torture laboratory for the earliest detained terrorism suspects. There, in 2002—including while Haspel ran the so-called black site—the man known as Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times; stuffed into a wooden box barely bigger than a coffin; had his body shackled in painful contorted positions; and had his head slammed into walls.
“If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from the past,” Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a member of the intelligence committee who opposes her nomination, told The Daily Beast in a statement Tuesday.
“Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director. Her nomination must include total transparency about this background,” Wyden added.
She’s a typical Trump nominee — i.e., extremely bad — and opposing her is a no-brainer. Alas, expect plenty of this kind of thing:
“First you say that women are grossly underrepresented in government. Then you say you oppose torture. Make up your mind!”