President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the first female director of the Central Intelligence Agency — long-time agency veteran Gina Haspel — was submitted to intense questioning during a confirmation hearing Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
A primary point of contention among her Democrat interlocutors was Haspel’s involvement and role in the counter-terrorism program which utilized enhanced interrogation techniques — such as waterboarding — in the years following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 which killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans.
That program was ended in 2015 by Congress, with the techniques declared “torture” and made illegal. Haspel was asked repeatedly if she would revive the program or make use of such techniques despite the prohibition against them, and Haspel repeatedly assured her questioners that she would not, as she was required to abide by the law.
Yet, despite those repeated reassurances, many of those opposed to Haspel’s nomination have taken a stance that would seemingly disqualify her from holding the position of CIA director simply due to her former involvement with and knowledge of the now-ceased interrogation program, which, again, she has vowed not to resume.
But according to Matthew Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon, that adopted stance has placed some Democrats in a rather hypocritical and untenable position, given the involvement, knowledge and even support of the program by other individuals that have been and currently are supported by those same Democrats — such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
As it turns out, Pelosi was one of the first Americans in a position of authority to be briefed on the program around the time of its inception. She was one of only four members of Congress who were given a virtual tour of the rendition facilities and interrogation techniques that would be used to obtain invaluable information from detained terrorists.
Pelosi did not raise any objections or resign in protest or leak it to the media. When has Pelosi ever not spoken out loudly against policies and programs she disagreed with under a Republican administration? Good luck finding an example.
In fact, and quite ironically, Pelosi even knew about the rendition program and enhanced interrogation techniques before Haspel was made aware of them, as was revealed by Haspel’s own under-oath testimony in response to a question from Maine Sen. Susan Collins.
Haspel told Collins she learned about the program “about a year into its existence,” several months after Congress had first been informed. She further explained, “I was told that interrogation experts had designed the program, that the highest legal authority in the United States had approved it, and that the president of the United States had approved it as well as trusted leadership at the Central Intelligence Agency.”
So given the fact that Pelosi learned about and apparently approved of the program and interrogation techniques prior to Haspel, shouldn’t that mean Pelosi would be likewise smeared as complicit in the “torture” itself and barred from holding office, a standard that has been applied to Haspel by some of her opponents?
Why has she been permitted by Democrats to be Speaker of the House and retain a top leadership position if Democrats are so opposed to any sort of involvement with or knowledge of the interrogation program and techniques?
Consider also that former CIA Director John Brennan — who served under the Obama administration and was confirmed by many of the same Democrats now opposed to Haspel — was also knowledgeable of the program and techniques, a valid point brought up by Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton. Should he, too, have been opposed, or even booted from his position as director in 2015 when the program and techniques were declared illegal?
Remember, Haspel made it clear on numerous occasions that the program is no longer in existence and she wouldn’t revive it or approve of covert use of the techniques that had been banned, rendering this all a moot debate over a dead issue. That makes the stated opposition against her nomination even more hypocritical and absurd.
Continetti struck right to the true heart of the matter and wrote, “This is not really about Gina Haspel, or interrogations … It is about Donald Trump. It is about the reflexive Democratic strategy of opposing and delaying his nominees.”
“There have been more cloture votes during the Trump administration than during the previous four administration’s combined. More than 150 nominations are pending in committee, and 98 are pending on the Senate calendar,” he added. “The Democrats aren’t serious about diligence. What they want is to cater to the prejudices of their base.”
Gina Haspel is highly qualified for the position for which she has been nominated, but because of their staunch #Resistance to all things Trump, Democrats have stretched their own hypocritical double standards to find a reason to deny her confirmation. Unless they decide to apply that standard to Pelosi as well, it simply isn’t going to fly.
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