Senator Rand Paul’s opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to run the CIA seems to have made his opponents go down the unorthodox route of advertisement smear campaigns. A television ad campaign has popped up accusing Paul of representing the interests of terrorists, Politico reported today.
According to the same outlet, the 30-second advertisement features flashing images of Abu Zubaydah, one of Osama bin Laden’s top lieutenants. The narrator allegedly slanders Paul, accusing him of protecting terrorists, instead of Americans.
“Haspel did exactly what her country asked of her and what was necessary to keep us safe. Call Rand Paul, remind him he’s in Washington to represent us, not him.”
Announcing the news on Twitter, President Donald Trump nominated Gina Haspel as the new director of the CIA on March 13 this year.
“Mike Pompeo, Director of the CIA, will become our new Secretary of State. He will do a fantastic job! Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service! Gina Haspel will become the new Director of the CIA, and the first woman so chosen. Congratulations to all!”
The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald published a piece detailing Gina Haspel’s involvement in some of the CIA’s most controversial programs. Haspel ran a secret prison in Thailand. Some of the detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other torture techniques. Apart from that, Greenwald wrote, Haspel played an important role in covering up information by destroying interrogation videotapes. This was investigated by a special prosecutor and grand jury.
The Libertarian-leaning Republican Rand Paul has opposed Haspel’s nomination from the very beginning. Haspel’s “gleeful enjoyment” of torture, as The Guardian reported, is the main reason Senator Paul is against her becoming the director of the CIA. “My opposition to her is over her direct participation in interrogation and her gleeful enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured,” Paul said.
According to information published on the Central Intelligence Agency’s official website, Gina Haspel received bipartisan support from distinguished national security leaders. Evidently, President Trump also supports Haspel. Republican Rand Paul does not, and that’s what’s made him the target of an advertisement smear campaign. Who’s behind it? According to Politico, a dark money group called the American Exceptionalism Institute.
The American Exceptionalism Institute was incorporated a year ago by Columbus, Ohio-based attorney James Ryan. The ad campaign against Rand Paul is the group’s first paid ad buy. James Ryan has previously served as the registered agent for various issue advocacy groups, corporate and non-corporate entities. The institute spent $100,000 on the campaign.
The group’s spokesman, Brian Kinett, said the ad will be broadcast in the Bowling Green and Lexington markets, and nationwide on Fox News. Conservatives are the primary target group. In a statement to Politico, Mr. Kinett viciously criticized Senator Paul, accusing him of representing the interests of Al Qaeda terrorists.
“We call on Paul to support Haspel’s nomination and remind him to represent Kentucky’s interests in Congress, not the interests of Al Qaeda terrorists who launched a war against our country and then cried foul over treatment when they got caught by heroes like Haspel.”
Rand Paul’s spokesman said that the senator is still against Haspel’s nomination, adding that the fact Haspel had overseen a black torture site and then destroyed evidence of torture should disqualify her from running the Central Intelligence Agency.