Despite the opposition of Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, the United States Senate today voted to confirm torturer Gina Haspel to be the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency, further harming the United States’ international standing and handing Donald Trump another victory.
The vote was 54–44, with several renegade Democrats shamefully voting aye: Mark Warner of Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Four represent states that voted for Trump, while two (Warner and Shaheen) represent states that voted for Hillary Clinton.
Shame on each and every of them. With their vote, they have made themselves enablers of the Trump regime and its immoral, irresponsible policies and activities.
One Republican, Rand Paul, refused to support Haspel’s nomination and voted no. Senator John McCain and Senator Todd Young of Indiana were absent. McCain, as mentioned, was also opposed and would not have voted aye had he been there. Democrats thus had the power to stop this nomination in its tracks. Had all the Democratic senators stuck together, Haspel would not have been confirmed today.
But they splintered and the result is that Trump has gotten his pick through.
No Democratic senators from the Pacific Northwest supported Haspel.
Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon deserves our thanks for helping to lead the charge against Haspel’s confirmation. In a powerful, blistering floor speech, he laid out the case against voting for Haspel, which is worth reading in its entirety.
“In our democracy, confirmations are not supposed to take place in secret,” Wyden noted. “Nominees do not get to decide what is and isn’t known about them. But these principles have been thrown out the window.”
“Instead of standing up for the Constitution and for the American people, the Senate is rewarding Gina Haspel and the CIA for this abuse of power.”
“Gina Haspel has openly acknowledged that, as the Acting CIA Director, she is making the decisions about what gets declassified about herself and what does not. It is hard to imagine a more obvious conflict of interest.”
“The CIA, under Ms. Haspel, has also conducted an unprecedented influence campaign to promote her confirmation. This is inappropriate. It is wrong.”
Wyden was joined in his opposition to Haspel by his regional colleagues Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Jeff Merkley, and Jon Tester.
“There is no greater or more difficult task than protecting the safety and security of families of our great nation, and for that I am extremely grateful to every member of our intelligence community, including Ms. Haspel, who has spent decades in public service,” said Senator Patty Murray in a statement following the vote.
“However, given her troubling record and a concerning lack of commitment to transparency, I could not support her nomination to lead the CIA.”
“At the start of her nomination process I was deeply troubled by her connection to now-banned torture practices and the subsequent destruction of evidence. Unfortunately, Ms. Haspel failed to convince me during her hearing that she would always choose the path that best reflects our country’s morals and values.”
“Though I was in the minority today, I wish Ms. Haspel the best as she takes on this critically important role. It is essential she leads based on our values, stands up to those who would politicize intelligence or give illegal or immoral orders, and commits to total transparency with Congressional oversight.”
The roll call vote from the Pacific Northwest was along party lines:
VOTING AYE: Republicans Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski (AK)
VOTING NAY: Democrats Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley (OR), Jon Tester (MT)
It must be noted that several Democrats from Republican-controlled states did NOT vote for Haspel, notably Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Doug Jones of Alabama. We thank them for their nay votes. History will remember that they voted responsibly against one of the worst nominees for this post this country has ever seen.