On March 13, President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Haspel is an especially controversial choice because she used torturous “enhanced interrogation techniques” when she managed a secret CIA prison in Thailand during the early 2000s, and allegedly destroyed evidence of torture after the fact. Haspel has served as the agency’s deputy director since Trump appointed her last year, and she appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 9 for questioning as they considered her nomination. The Senate should clearly and decisively reject Gina Haspel’s candidacy.
“There are at least seven reasons why Gina Haspel should not be confirmed as Director of the CIA,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark. “The foremost reason is that she has been an unrepentant advocate, practitioner, and enabler of torture.”
John McCain, the only senator who has actually experienced torture as a prisoner, said, “Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”
The second reason to reject Haspel’s nomination is that she served as chief of base for the secret “black” torture prison in Thailand code named “Cat’s Eye.” During her time supervising its operations, a prisoner named Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri was waterboarded. Haspel’s apologists now claim that she was “just following orders.” Where have we heard that before? It’s the same defense used by Nazi generals during the Nuremberg trials.
The third reason is that Haspel ordered the destruction of tapes of the torture that took place under her watch in Thailand as well as other black sites. How many prisoners besides al-Nashiri were tortured during her time at the “Cat’s Eye” prison? We can’t know because of this destruction of evidence.
The fourth reason is that Haspel refuses to acknowledge the immorality of torture to this day. During her confirmation hearing, Haspel expressed her current belief that torture does not work for getting reliable information from prisoners. “I would not allow the CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal,” she now claims. Under direct questioning by Sen. Kamala Harris, however, she refused to provide a yes or no answer to the question, “Do you believe in hindsight that those techniques were immoral?”
The fifth reason is that Haspel has released only selective information about her mostly undercover career during her long tenure as a CIA agent and as deputy director of the agency. The Senate can’t adequately evaluate her suitability because the records of her service are largely unavailable.
The sixth reason is that it sends a terrible message to the rest of the world if we appoint a former overseer of prisoner torture to head the CIA. It’s also a self-destructive message, because the leaders of other countries will feel more justified in using torture themselves.
“Just ask Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor by North Korea for trying to steal a propaganda poster,” Sarwark said. “Oh wait, we can’t because Warmbier was returned to the United States in a coma and subsequently died.”
The seventh and most fundamental reason is that we don’t need a director of the CIA. We don’t need the CIA at all. We have 16 other intelligence agencies that we also don’t need: the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Intelligence Branch, the Department of State’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of National Security Intelligence, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, the Department of Energy’s Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command, the Office of Naval Intelligence, the U.S. Air Force’s Twenty-Fifth Air Force, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, and Coast Guard Intelligence.
“We have a military force larger than the next nine largest militaries in the world,” Sarwark said. “We are protected by moats called the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. One intelligence agency, if that, should be more than enough. We cannot know how much money would be saved by reducing redundancy in spying because most of these agencies have classified budgets. It’s a safe bet, though, that the savings would be very large and significant.”
Only the Libertarian Party is committed to a peaceful, non-interventionist foreign policy. Libertarians know that if we stop droning and bombing people in other countries, the threat of avenging terrorism will subside. Making a peaceful world possible is one reason that the Libertarian Party plans to run more than 2,000 candidates this year for local, state, and federal office.