Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., responded to reports that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks, wanted to offer testimony in CIA Director Gina Haspel’s Senate confirmation hearing, saying he could do so after every family member who lost a loved one on 9/11 has a chance.
Cotton — a U.S. Army combat veteran, who left the private practice of law to become an infantry officer after 9/11 — tweeted an article from The New York Times in which Mohammed stated he wanted to provide testimony, presumably about the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques.
“Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, can testify to the Intelligence Committee after every 9/11 widow, widower, & child testifies about what they think of him vs. Gina Haspel & the CIA. Until then, he can rot at Gitmo & then he can rot in hell,” Cotton wrote in response to the report.
Al Qaeda terrorists killed approximately 3,000 people in the attacks on September 11, 2001, in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Mohammed was captured in 2003 and is one of the 40 detainees remaining at Guantanamo Bay.
Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the 9/11 mastermind, can testify to the Intelligence Committee after every 9/11 widow, widower, & child testifies about what they think of him vs. Gina Haspel & the CIA. Until then, he can rot at Gitmo & then he can rot in hell. https://t.co/LQ5U10zUCL
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) May 8, 2018
After he was captured, Mohammed was subjected to waterboarding approximately 180 times over 15 sessions, in addition to being shackled in stress positions and undergoing sleep deprivation for about a week with his hands chained above his head, according to a 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the CIA, was a mid-level intelligence officer during the years immediately after 9/11 and did not formulate the agency’s interrogation guidelines.
The Intelligence Committee report indicated three people, including Mohammed, were subjected to waterboarding before the enhanced interrogation techniques were made illegal in 2015.
Haspel pledged during her confirmation hearing on Wednesday that the agency will not restart a “detention and interrogation program.”
“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 a detention and interrogation program,” Haspel said.
“CIA has learned some tough lessons from that experience,” she added.
Cotton, who is a member of the Intelligence Committee, wrote an op-ed in support of Haspel’s confirmation, arguing she is a “consummate professional” with bipartisan backing.
“By rejecting Haspel’s nomination, the Senate would, in effect, warn people working in our intelligence community that if they ever participate in a program that the president has approved and Congress has been briefed on – and that program later becomes unpopular – they will be barred for promotion and open to character assassination,” Cotton contended.
During Wednesday’s confirmation hearing, Cotton asked Haspel, “If you had been nominated by President Obama or Hillary Clinton had won and nominated you to CIA director, how many votes do you think you would have gotten to be confirmed as CIA director?”
As she paused and then leaned toward the mic, Cotton quipped, “You don’t have to answer,” which brought a smile to Haspel’s face.
Dozens of former top intelligence officials have come out in support of the CIA veteran, who would be the first woman to run the agency, Reuters reported.
Among those who signed a letter of recommendation addressed to the Senate Intelligence Committee ahead Haspel’s hearing were Leon Panetta, who was Secretary of Defense and CIA Director under President Barack Obama; John Brennan, who was CIA Director under Obama; Porter Goss, CIA Director under President George W. Bush; and Michael Hayden, CIA Director under Bush and Obama.
Appearing on Fox News on Wednesday, Cotton predicted the Haspel will get a positive referral from the Intelligence Committee and be confirmed by the Senate.
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