The president’s pick to head the CIA is thirty-three year CIA veteran Gina Haspel, known by her CIA colleagues as “Bloody Gina”. (I can hear Stephen Colbert reading the Trump tweet: So unfair! She’s a WOMAN……. how dare they disrespect….. wait….blood coming out of where?…. SAD!). The top CIA spot is open because the president drafted the most recent CIA director, Mike Pompeo, the Koch brothers’ erstwhile personal congressman from Wichita, Kansas, to replace the former CEO of Exxon as America’s Top Diplomat (America’s Got TALENT!).
The CIA, currently being run on an interim basis by Ms. Haspel, is apparently sending out social media messages expressing its love and support for Bloody Gina. Ms. Haspel is also, apparently, the one at the CIA who decides what parts of her record are highly classified and what can be revealed to the public. She has been (big deal, yawn!) implicated in participating in/observing torture at a “black site” in Thailand (apparently she liked it) and in the infamous (also completely unpunished) destruction of video evidence of American torture, which a couple of tenured-for-life weasels, Mssrs Yoo and Bybee, torturing the definition of ordinary language, rebranded as something else in a secret memo making the brutal practices, illegal under international treaties against torture, the Geneva Conventions and common decency, 100% legal, arguably, when performed secretly by the CIA and its contractors under secretly specified conditions.
At the confirmation hearing yesterday California Senator Kamala Harris asked Haspel two simple questions the acting head of the CIA refused to answer. (wherever things are not in quotation marks I’m paraphrasing Senator Harris and Gina Haspel)
Harris: “Do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?”
Well, Senator, as I have stated, the program was legal…. etc.
It’s a yes or no answer.
“Senator, what I believe sitting here today is that I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to…” (Harris interrupts as Haspel tries to dribble more time off the game clock)
OK, I see you refuse to answer that question. Do you believe that torture is effective in extracting actionable intelligence?
Senator, I have stated my beliefs, which are that among the legal tools we used, and I have to speak very carefully because… you are a former prosecutor and it probably won’t be enough to pause… continue to call you “Senator” each time, make a steely, determined face… wait out the very short, loudly ticking clock you have there (a tip of the hat to the indignant Condoleeza for showing us all how it’s done), which I notice is almost out … I repeat, all of the legal tools we had at the time allowed us to prevent major terrorist operations, to get the intelligence needed to save American lives, so, no, there’s no way of knowing if particular interrogation techniques were useful or not.
This is American politics in 2018, a kind of deadly reality TV show where the underlying facts of the important matters under discussion often just get in the way of a good dramatic story arc. We had a two term president who, although holding nobody legally or even morally responsible for the torture program, made the brave public admission, during his second term, that, with the best of intentions “we tortured some folks.”
We, you know, we, uh, tortured some folks. Just folks like you’d have over for a cookout in your backyard, folksy kind of folks, the kind of folks, folks, that you know, I have to be honest here, folks, we, in hindsight, maybe shouldn’t have done those terrible things to. Any fair-minded person would have to call the things we did to these folks torture, but it’s not my job to make sure the US sticks to its treaties and obligations under American and international law. I don’t want to get fucking assassinated! There are folks out there who would flat out kill me. I don’t want a needle-induced fatal heart attack while I’m lying in my bed! Do any of you folks?
The Republicans, who hold a razor thin majority in the Senate, because of a lone holdout and a medically absent senator who himself was tortured , don’t have the votes to make Haspel the next CIA director. They will need a few votes from Democrats if Bloody Gina is to lead Trump’s CIA. They already have one, Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. has already said he’d vote for Haspel. This article lists the many undecided Democrats (including both NY Senators and NJ’s Cory Booker) who can’t decide whether to vote to confirm Gina Haspel as America’s Top Spook. A fairly sickening list of folks, I’d have to say, folks.
Read the list and shake your head. Then contact your senator if he or she is on this list. If you’re in NY: Schumer: (202) 224-6542 (nobody picks up his phone); Gillebrand: (202) 224-4451 (a bit of a wait on hold to speak to a staffer, but worth it).
Send them emails. The contact info for the rest of these spineless weasels is here: https://www.senate.gov/. I composed this for Gillebrand, while I was on hold:
I was dismayed to find your name on the recently published (CNN) list of Democrats “undecided” about confirming Gina Haspel as CIA director.
Ms. Haspel is an unapologetic advocate of “enhanced interrogation.” She participated directly in the CIA’s destruction of evidence of the torture program. She is known by her colleagues at the CIA as “Bloody Gina,” presumably for her lack of squeamishness about brutality and violence.
Nominated by a president who insists, against all evidence, that “waterboarding” is not torture, and is an enthusiastic supporter of torture as part of American policy, Ms. Haspel’s background as a supporter, and concealer, of these techniques is very dangerous.
Vote no, I urge you.
(feel free to cut and paste this one for an email to your spineless representative)
A rep at Gillebrand’s office informed me that she is voting NO, that three days ago she expressed her vigorous opposition Haspel for her participation in torture and its cover-up.
So I’ll send this email to Chuck Chuck Bo-Buck Schumer whose office does not even allow you to stay on hold while you compose a few words for an email.
But we should really, to be fair, try to see it from the president’s point of view, a president who has already stated, emphatically and with apparent sincerity, that he is a big fan of torture, promising to do things much worse than essentially harmless “waterboarding”. He’s only trying to keep a campaign promise!
As every young child knows, in America the president makes all the laws, carries them out, decides everything. So why should these corrupt, dishonest partisan buttinskis in the Senate have anything to say about a qualified appointee the president legally chooses? UNFAIR!
I note, because its hard not to be paranoid in a nation leaning so markedly toward authoritarianism (see list of “undecided” members of the “opposition party”) that every time I am unable to resist and write the word “Trump” in a post, or treat the hideous subject in any way, I suddenly get a small flurry of emails from a series of new “followers”– anonymous folks with long random sounding handles and always “outlook.com” at the end. If you ever hear that I have committed suicide, assume it was an expertly assisted suicide and make sure the coroner checks between my toes for a tiny needle mark.