Gina Haspel, who is poised to possibly become the next CIA director, has said that she’s “interested” in stepping down as a nominee. Ever since President Trump announced Haspel as his nominee, critics have pointed out her connections to an interrogation program.
In fact, in 2002, Haspel was a higher-up for a secret CIA detention center in Thailand where people were waterboarded. Furthermore, she’s accused of being part of a scheme that destroyed over 100 tapes with footage of the interrogations.
According to the Seattle Times, Haspel was at the CIA headquarters when she was preparing for the upcoming confirmation hearing. While answering mock questions from Congress, White House officials learned new information and became “concerned.” For one, it appears that Haspel was an “enthusiastic supporter” of the controversial waterboarding program, which casts her in a negative light. Many people view waterboarding as an unacceptable form of torture.
For Haspel, stepping down as the nominee would have meant that she would not have to attend the confirmation hearing. She was interested in avoiding the hearing in order to preserve her reputation. Haspel also said that she “did not want her nomination to harm the CIA.”
Trump learned of Haspel’s change of heart on Friday and said he still wanted her to be the nominee. The Washington Times noted that once the White House heard of Haspel’s uncertainty, White House aides, including Marc Short and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, went to Virginia to meet with her. As of Saturday, Haspel has decided to stick with her nomination.
NEWS: Gina Haspel sought to withdraw as CIA nominee Friday after a White House meeting on her nomination & torture. It led to an extraordinary scene: Top Trump aides rushed to CIA HQ later Friday to convince her to stay. w/@CarolLeonnig & @shaneharris: https://t.co/0zR5KD3LnD— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) May 6, 2018
Since May 3, the White House has been releasing many positive testimonials of Haspel, according to CBS News. President Trump also declared on May 2 that CIA employees will “be very happy with our Gina.”
Meanwhile, the pieces of information that are known about Haspel are disturbing to those who oppose torture. Haspel was in charge when terrorism suspects, including Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and Abu Zubaydah, were waterboarded at the Thailand detention center, noted Vox. After she was found to have destroyed video evidence of the waterboarding, no disciplinary action was taken against Haspel.
For Haspel, her biggest worry is that she could become the “next Ronny Jackson,” meaning she does not want to be forced to withdraw her nomination due to allegations against her character or past behavior.
Unless Haspel changes her mind again, she will be going in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday.