Torturer Gina Haspel
Torturer Gina Haspel

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.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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