POLITICS
05/09/2018 08:52 am ET

More Than 100 Former Ambassadors Write Letter Opposing Gina Haspel Nomination

Trump's pick for CIA director oversaw a black site in Thailand where at least one detainee was reportedly tortured.

A group of 109 retired and former career and non-career U.S. ambassadors sent the Senate a letter Wednesday to express “serious concern” over the nomination of Gina Haspel to be CIA director due to her controversial involvement in the agency’s torture program.

“We have no reason to question Ms. Haspel’s credentials as both a leader and an experienced intelligence professional. Yet she is also emblematic of choices made by certain American officials in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 that dispensed with our ideals and international commitments to the ultimate detriment of our national security,” the ambassadors, who served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, wrote in advance of Haspel’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. “What we do know, based on credible, and as yet uncontested reporting, leaves us of the view that [Ms. Haspel] should be disqualified from holding cabinet rank.”

They’re referring specifically to the fact that Haspel ran a black site facility in Thailand in 2002 where at least one detainee was reportedly waterboarded. She was also connected to the destruction of video evidence of torture sessions.

A group of former ambassadors who oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA wrote to senators ahead
Joshua Roberts/Reuters
A group of former ambassadors who oppose the nomination of Gina Haspel to be director of the CIA wrote to senators ahead of Haspel's confirmation hearing Wednesday.

The use of torture as a tool to maintain power goes against American values, the ambassadors argued. Haspel’s connection to torture, even if it existed in the past, will be welcomed by authoritarian leaders worldwide, “as it will allow them to proclaim, however cynically, that their behavior is no different from ours.”

The same number of retired generals and admirals also penned a letter to senators last month laying out their issues with Haspel’s nomination. The torture program, they said, was “rife with mismanagement and abuse.”

“Individuals in the service of our country, even at the lowest levels, have a duty to refuse to carry out such actions,” they added.

She reportedly sought to withdraw her name from consideration, leading President Donald Trump to defend her record.

“In these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want Out because she is too tough on terror,” Trump tweeted. “Win Gina!”

Some senators, such as Jon Tester (D-Mont.), have already revealed they plan to vote against Haspel’s nomination.

“I’m not a huge fan of waterboarding,” he said Tuesday.

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