CIA nominee Gina Haspel reportedly sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday but was convinced to continue by the White House. I have previously written extensively on my views the torture program implemented under the Bush Administration and why it was a clear violation of international laws and treaties. As I wrote recently, CIA nominee Gina Haspel has featured greatly in that torture program. Nevertheless, various Democrats continues to express a willingness to consider making her the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the meantime, Sarah Sanders has echoed the talking point that Senators will be hypocrites if they do not vote for the first woman to be nominated for this post. The problem is that she is also the first person nominated with an admitted history of torture, even though she continues to mislabel the programs as “enhanced interrogation.”
Below is my column in USA Today on the nomination Deputy Director Gina Haspel to head the CIA. While Sen. Rand Paul has declared that he will oppose Haspel over torture, some Democrats (who are being criticized for previously failing to act on torture allegations) are again hedging on whether they will oppose a nominee solely due to her involvement in the torture program. However, one promising development is an effort by Sen. Dianne Feinstein to have Haspel’s record on torture declassified. There remains some debate over Haspel’s role on notable cases. Reports still indicate that Haspel oversaw the torture of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri at the “Cat’s Eye.” However, it is not clear if she was “Chief of Base” during the torture of Abu Zubaydah. ProPublica issued a correction Thursday that she was not Chief at the time of the Zubaydah torture. There is no debate that Haspel ordered the destruction of evidence of the torture program.
Here is the column (which has been edited since its original posting):
The United States has long rejected the holding of military parades featuring tanks, missiles and other heavy weapons as a symbol of authoritarian regimes like the Soviet Union, North Korea and other countries. We commonly have parades with marching military and military bands in Washington. What we generally have not done is add heavy weaponry — the signature display of so many of the history authoritarian enemies of this country (though, as some have pointed out on this blog, there have been exceptions where tanks or missiles were present in inaugurations). Trump’s desire for military equipment at the presidential inauguration was reportedly rejected by the Pentagon as running counter to the long traditions of the country. Now Trump appears to be close to getting such a parade, modeled on the Bastille Day parade. A military official told The Washington Post is quoted as saying“The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France.” (The current results show 77 percent against such parades with around 800 polled. The Army-Navy Times is reported opposition at 89 percent). Opposition is also coming from Republicans who are calling it “cheesy” and “wasteful.” The Navy Seal who killed Osama Bin Laden has called it “third world bulls**t.”
Ironically, as many on this blog know, I am a military history buff and love to review both vintage and modern weaponry. However, I like our tradition in not holding such military parades. Our military has long maintained its apolitical and professional distance in our system. We celebrate and honor our military but do not use heavy weapons as props. We also avoid the high costs associated with such parades. However, people of good faith can disagree and I wanted to ask the blog about the consensus (if any) on this issue below.
There is a rumor of more members being axed in the coming week over sexual harassment as Washington prepares for the final tax vote. Ok, it was just an excuse to show this incredible picture from a Leningrad gas mask drill in 1939.
We have hit another milestone today with over 33,000,000 views. We are also expected to reach 35,000 followers on Twitter. That hardly makes us competition for the largest sites but it is still an impressive collection of people seeking a place for civil but passionate discourse on legal and policy issues of our time (and perhaps a few wacky stories). We often use these milestones to look at the current profile of the blog and its supporters around the world.
As always, I want to offer special thanks for our weekend contributors: Mike Appleton, Larry Rafferty, Darren Smith, Kimberly Dienes, and Cara Gallagher (particularly Darren who continues help up with periodic technical problems etc).
I particularly want to thank our regular commentators and readers. We try to keep this blog as an open forum with as little interference or monitoring of the comments as possible. Given our free speech orientation, we try not to delete comments and, for that reason, we are deeply appreciative of how most people avoid personal or offensive comments in debating these issues. We have had to delete a handful of comments with personal attacks or profanity but the number remains quite low for a blog of this size. The success of this blog is due to the fact that we offer something more than the all-too-common troll-driven, angry, and insulting commentary of the Internet. Thank you for voluntarily assuming restraint over the tenor and content of your comments. Continue reading
It seems that Naval Aviators are taking a cue from their Air Force counterparts and “aiming high.” In what may be the greatest example of male exaggeration, a Naval pilot drew a giant phallus in the skies above Okanogan, Washington. I am ready to represent the pilot and argue that this is really nothing more than a cowboy hat and that the suggestion of anything more is merely an example of sexual repression revealed in an aerial Rorschach test. UPDATE: The pilots have been disciplined but will keep their “wings.”