I know that it's tough being a red state Democrat, living in Kentucky for over a decade has made it painfully clear just how wide the gulf between "Democrat" and "liberal" can be. But I can only surmise that the move by Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin and now Joe Donnelly to support Trump's torture-happy pick for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, is a way to give Republicans like Rand Paul cover for voting no without actually doing so, something I'm sure the GOP will reward both Joes for come November, right?
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) announced Saturday his support for Gina Haspel’s nomination to be CIA director, providing a crucial second Democratic vote that should provide enough margin for confirmation to overcome questions about her role in last decade’s controversial interrogation program.
Donnelly, who met with Haspel on Thursday, said in a statement that he had “a tough, frank, and extensive discussion” with her both about her vision for the agency and its past use of “enhanced” interrogations against terrorist captives, including methods such as waterboarding that are widely considered torture.
During her confirmation hearing, Haspel pledged to abide by current law that forbids those methods and that she would reject an order from President Trump to use those techniques against a terrorist now.
“I believe that she has learned from the past, and that the CIA under her leadership can help our country confront serious international threats and challenges,” Donnelly said in the statement released Saturday morning.
Of course, Haspel's efforts to cover up Bush-era torture should have ended her career anyway.
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 oversaw 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.
Subsequently declassified CIA medical files assessed that Abu Zubaydah was likely willing to cooperate with his interrogators before his waterboarding, as he had with his FBI interrogators, who did not torture him.
Years later, Haspel drafted an instruction to CIA officers in the field to destroy videotapes of torturous interrogations at the site. Though the Justice Department later declined to bring charges, the destruction of the tapes was widely considered in human-rights circles to be a key moment in covering up the torture—and it prompted the Senate intelligence committee’s landmark 2014 investigation, which occurred amid the backdrop of the agency spying on the work product of the Senate investigators.
I would hope that we could get Dems who wouldn't compromise on torture, but it's not as if Obama made any effort to cashier in Haspel either.
This all sucks, and I hate it. And Manchin is in for the fight of his political life.