President Trump has picked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to replace fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel to replace Pompeo. Both Pompeo and Haspel are highly qualified to fill those posts. But partisan politics may make it difficult for Trump’s picks to obtain the required Senate approval.
Some Democrats oppose Pompeo because he opposed Gay marriage. Others oppose him because he is a foreign policy hawk. But what it really boils down to is that the Senate Democrats hate Trump.
As soon as Trump announced his choice of Haspel, the ACLU trounced on the nomination because in 2002 she headed a CIA prison in Thailand where terrorists Abu Zubayadah and Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri were waterboarded. A torturer to head the CIA? Not if the Senate Democrats have their way.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee which considers the Pompeo nomination is composed of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. All 10 Democratic members have indicated their opposition to Trump’s pick. But so has Republican Senator Rand Paul, who has announced he is unalterably opposed to the nominations of Pompeo and Haspel.
At the last minute Paul changed his mind about Pompeo and on Monday the Foreign Relations Committee voted 11-10 along party lines to recommend that Pompeo be confirmed. The full Senate will now vote on Pompeo’s nomination and he is likely to be confirmed by a narrow margin. But Haspel, who would become the first woman to head the CIA, may not fare as well.
Haspel’s nomination will be heard by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. You can bet the Democratic members will be solidly opposed to her pick as head of the CIA. They may be joined by some Republican members as well. It’s not only that Haspel oversaw the waterboarding, but she also destroyed the videos of the terrorists being subjected to that interrogation method.
Haspel has been in the CIA since 1985. She has been has been Chief of Station at several CIA outposts overseas, including the notorious Thailand prison. She has worked her way up through the ranks to Deputy Director. Haspel is eminently qualified to head the CIA, the wateboarding notwithstanding.
There used to be an unwritten rule that the President had the right to pick his choices for high government posts as long as his picks were qualified. But all that ended some years ago when partisan politics became the rule of the day.
It is downright shameful that the Democrats’ hate of Trump is getting in the way of the President’s right to pick his choices for high government posts, especially since, in this case, Trump’s picks for Secretary of State and CIA Director are so highly qualified.