The Senate’s top Democrat is not calling on his fellow party members to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state—torture-praising Mike Pompeo—or his nominee to lead the CIA—”actual torturer” Gina Haspel.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York made his stance clear to reporters on Tuesday.
Schumer said Pompeo and Haspel face “lots of outstanding questions,” but hoped that if Pompeo is confirmed, he “will turn over a new leaf and will start toughening up our policies towards Russia and Putin.”
Currently the CIA Director, Pompeo was picked to be the nation’s top diplomat following the “twouster” of Rex Tillerson. Trump chose CIA deputy director Haspel to fill Pompeo’s shoes at the agency. Both nominations drew criticism from a broad range of groups.
Greenpeace USA Climate Director Naomi Ages, for example, said, “In addition to being a climate denier, like his predecessor, Pompeo is the Koch brothers’ shill who will denigrate the United States’ reputation abroad and make us vulnerable to threats at home.”
Pompeo has also indicated he is open to the reauthorization of torture, and referred to CIA staff who waterboarded detainees as “patriots.”
Haspel, meanwhile, is facing renewed scrutiny by progressive voices, if not by the top Democrat.
According to Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Haspel “should be prosecuted not promoted.” Toronto Star columnist Heather Mallick writes that Haspel’s “office skill set includes overseeing torture and taunting victims as they lie gasping and near death.”
Among those shining a critical light on her background is Jeremy Scahill, author and co-founder of The Intercept. In interview on Democracy Now! Wednesday, Scahill said that “in addition to being involved with the outright torture of people,” Haspel was “involved with the destruction of videotapes that were filmed at these black sites that showed, we understand, torture.”
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