Democrat-Supported CIA Chief Hires a Torturer of Muslims as Deputy
" Bold anti-Trumpist" Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) confronted by "Resist Hate RI" constituents for his Yes vote for pro-torture CIA Director Mike Pompeo. (I've queued the clip to start when Whitehouse speaks. Feel free to start from the beginning.)
by Gaius Publius
A pro-torture vote is a vote for torturing Muslims, at least so far.
As regular readers know, I've been looking at the group of mainstream Democrats relative to the "resistance" they presume to be leading (and occasionally are). In a great many cases, though, they're falling on their faces, or have been forced into stronger stands by a base that's way ahead of them in hating what's happening.
(A bit of background: The same money that buys Republican politicians' votes buys Democratic politicians' votes. But maybe you already knew that. If so, consider this a reminder on the off chance that, as you read this pieces, you wonder, "Now why would Democrats do that?" The obvious answer in many cases is, they can't afford to offend their real base, meaning their donors. In the case of torture, "their donors" includes the entire U.S. "defense" industry and the banks that finance it.)
I'll have more to say in the future about how Democratic voters are ahead of "their" politicians in actually resisting what Trump is doing. The instance detailed below is just one example of that.
Mike Pompeo, Torture and the Democratic Party
As we noted here, Kansas Republican Mike Pompeo, newly confirmed CIA Director, is pro-torture. Read the piece at the link for some of the detail on that (the source for that detail, interestingly, is the lone anti-Pompeo Republican, Rand Paul).
In that piece I listed the "pro-Resistance" Democrats who collaborated with Donald Trump to put pro-torture Mike Pompeo in charge of the CIA:
Which Democrats Voted For Pro-Torture Pompeo?Here's that reduced list of self-styled "strong anti-Trump resistance fighters" in a slightly different order. These people are branded, or self-branded, as "liberals," as among the "good" Democrats:
The vote, 66-32, was quite lopsided. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, 46 Democrats and two Independents (Sanders and Maine's Angus King). Only one Republican crossed the aisle to vote No — Rand Paul.
Fourteen Democrats (plus Angus King) put the stamp of approval on pro-torture Mike Pompeo, the new head of Donald Trump's CIA...
• Joe Donnelly (IN)...including the Senate Minority Leader...
• Dianne Feinstein (CA)
• Maggie Hassan (NH)
• Heidi Heitkamp (ND)
• Tim Kaine (VA)
• Amy Klobuchar (MN)
• Joe Manchin (WV)
• Claire McCaskill (MO)
• Jack Reed (RI)
• Brian Schatz (HI)
• Jeanne Shaheen (NH)
• Mark Warner (VA)
• Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
• Chuck Schumer (NY)The roll call also includes these names as "not voting":
• Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)Unless these two were ill or incapacitated, this was a cowardly act. They are either anti-torture and afraid to show it, or pro-torture and afraid to show it. (Blumenthal did vote No on the motion to proceed three days earlier. Murphy voted Yes.)
• Chris Murphy (D-CT)
• Chuck Schumer (NY)Schumer is positioning himself as the bold face of Senate "resistance." He's all over the TV lately, looking and sounding tough. Kaine was Clinton's VP pick, so a foolish (or low information) voter might mistake him as a tough anti-Trumpist as well.
• Tim Kaine (VA)
• Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
• Chris Murphy (CT)
• Amy Klobuchar (MN)
• Brian Schatz (HI)
• Richard Blumenthal (CT)
Whitehouse — good on some issues, especially climate, but not so good on a lot of others. (See the video above for what may have given him "religion" lately — his constituents, who seem to be way out in front of him, complaining about his vote en masse. Too bad he didn't "get religion" in time to keep his fingerprints off of his pro-torture, and therefore anti-Muslim, vote. (Remember, a vote for torture is a vote for torturing Muslims, at least so far.)
Murphy and Klobuchar get lots of face time on MSNBC, painted by the evening hosts as speaking for the so-called the left of the party. It's false cred, as you can see above (and there's more where that "false cred" charge comes from — Klobuchar, for example, is a reliable Monsanto vote, as is Al Franken, who's also getting some good "resistance" limelight lately).
Schatz should not be voting this way. He's actually further left than this makes him appear. And Blumenthal is bad on a lot of things, worse than many realize, but rarely makes the news outside of his home state.
Note that none of their Yes votes (or abstentions) were needed. The final tally was 66-32-2 and only 51 votes were needed. Four, five or six fewer Yes votes would not have changed the result.
Pro-Torture Pompeo Hires a Torturer as Deputy
To restate: The CIA director reports to the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the president. The CIA runs the president's drone kill program. The CIA also runs many or most of the "war on terror" black sites at which torture and death are dealt to enemies designated by the president.
Trump's new CIA chief, Mike Pompeo has hired Gina Haspel as his Deputy Director. Here's what the Deputy Director does:
The Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DD/CIA) is a statutory office (50 U.S.C. § 3037) and the second-highest official of the Central Intelligence Agency. The DD/CIA assists the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (D/CIA) and is authorized to exercise the powers of the D/CIA when the Director's position is vacant or in the Director's absence or disability.So, no Senate confirmation for Ms. Haspel. The Senate has had its last bite of the CIA-torture-drone kill apple.
Under current law, the Deputy Director is appointed by the President and is not required to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
And here's who Gina Haspel is. Glenn Greenwald writes (my emphasis):
In May, 2013, the Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported that the head of the CIA’s clandestine service [Haspel] was being shifted out of that position as a result of “a management shake-up” by then-Director John Brennan. As Miller documented, this official – whom the paper did not name because she was a covert agent at the time – was centrally involved in the worst abuses of the CIA’s Bush-era torture regime.That's who Mike Pompeo made his deputy — a woman who ran torture sites, personally ran a "secret prison in Thailand," was involved in the horrific torture of Abu Zubaydah, and who played a "vital role" in the destruction of the CIA interrogation tapes in violation of multiple court orders.
As Miller put it, she was “directly involved in its controversial interrogation program” and had an “extensive role” in torturing detainees. Even more troubling, she “had run a secret prison in Thailand” – part of the CIA’s network of “black sites” – “where two detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh techniques.” The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture also detailed the central role she played in the particularly gruesome torture of detainee Abu Zubaydah.
Beyond all that, she played a vital role in the destruction of interrogation videotapes that showed the torture of detainees both at the black site she ran and other secret agency locations. The concealment of those interrogation tapes, which violated both multiple court orders as well the demands of the 9/11 Commission and the advice of White House lawyers, was condemned as “obstruction” by Commission Chairs Lee Hamilton and Thomas Keane. A special prosecutor and Grand Jury investigated those actions but ultimately chose not to prosecute.
That CIA official’s name whose torture activities the Post described is Gina Haspel. Today, as BuzzFeed’s Jason Leopold noted, CIA Director Pompeo announced that Haspel was selected by Trump to be Deputy Director of the CIA.
And that's who our "liberal" anti-Trump defenders — Schumer, Whitehouse, Klobuchar, Kaine, Schatz — just affirmatively enabled. These are your bold, pro-torture "Resistance fighters."
Remember their names. What Pompeo and Haspel do is on them. And if Trump, Pompeo and Haspel ever decide to take this presidential power "local" — the power to torture and kill — and use it on his enemies in the "homeland," that's on these senators as well.