She ran a secret prison in Thailand where a suspect in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks was waterboarded 83 times — and then was involved with ordering evidence about that waterboarding to be destroyed.
The CIA's network of clandestine prisons and use of brutal interrogation techniques, which critics also call torture, has been a political ulcer for the intelligence community since the administration of President George W. Bush.
Haspel's role in it meant that when Trump nominated her for the No. 2 job last year, critics within and outside of Congress called for her to be blocked even though she did not require Senate confirmation.
So Haspel would need to go through what could be a bruising confirmation hearing that reopens the vault on secret prisons, torture, alleged cover-ups and accountability.
Haspel would be the first woman to lead the CIA, and Trump told reporters outside the White House that he had gotten to know her well.
Intelligence veterans call Haspel one of their own and say the time is right for her to hold the reins.
"When she was selected to be deputy director, I think the choice was enthusiastically received at CIA," former National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden told NPR's Morning Edition on Tuesday. "In all this turmoil, I actually think CIA is going to be a bit of a calm spot with Gina now being elevated to the director position."
A Former Director On What Leadership Change Means For The CIA
Everyone at the CIA in the post-Sept. 11 era was simply doing what they were asked to do in the aftermath of a crisis, Hayden said.
Opponents, however, made clear that they believe the Senate intelligence committee should not confirm Haspel.
"During Gina Haspel's long tenure at the CIA, she oversaw the agency's torture and rendition program, one of the bleakest chapters in our nation's history. No one who had a hand in torturing individuals deserves to ever hold public office again, let alone lead an agency," said Raha Wala, director of national security advocacy for Human Rights First.
"To allow someone who had a direct hand in this illegal, immoral and counterproductive program is to willingly forget our nation's dark history with torture," Wala added.
Other opponents said Pompeo and Haspel should be able to go forward into new roles so long as they made a clear break with brutal interrogations and the past conduct of the CIA.
"Both nominees would have to disavow all previous statements and actions advocating this unlawful conduct if they are to be seriously considered as candidates," said Margaret Huang, executive director of Amnesty International USA.
"Torture, extraordinary rendition, and indefinite detention are unacceptable, and we cannot allow human rights abuses to be condoned in the name of national security," she said.
Many Democrats, however, may fully oppose Haspel. Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico both wrote Trump last year to say they felt she should not get the deputy director job at CIA.
Wyden said on Tuesday that he feels the same way now.
"Ms. Haspel's background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director. Her nomination must include total transparency about this background, which I called for more than a year ago when she was appointed deputy director," his statement read. "If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past."
Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins, a key voice on the intelligence committee, said on Tuesday that she would reserve judgment for now.
"I have met Gina and I know of her decades of experience at the CIA," Collins said. "I prefer to wait to have a confirmation hearing before making a decision on her nomination. She certainly has the expertise and experience as a 30-year employee at the agency. But I'm sure there's going to be some questions raised."
Opponents in the wider Senate made clear there could be no correct answers to these questions.
"I voted against Mr. Pompeo's nomination to be CIA director because he failed to express moral opposition to torture, but Ms. Haspel has done much worse," said Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill.
"Not only did she directly supervise the torture of detainees, but she also participated in covering it up by helping to destroy the video evidence," Duckworth said. "Her reprehensible actions should disqualify her from having the privilege of serving the American people in government ever again, but apparently this president believes they merit a promotion."
If Democrats elect to oppose Haspel as a bloc in committee or the full Senate, Republicans will need all the votes they can get in order to confirm her, assuming the ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remains absent from the chamber.
McCain said on Tuesday: "The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history. Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA's interrogation program during the confirmation process."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., opposed Pompeo as CIA director, and if he opposes Haspel as well, that could make for a narrow tightrope to walk.
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, however, appeared eager to get Haspel's nomination on his committee's calendar.
"I know Gina personally and she has the right skill set, experience, and judgment to lead one of our nation's most critical agencies," he said.
NPR correspondent Susan Davis contributed to this report
What Rex Tillerson's Firing Means For The Future Of U.S. Diplomacy
March 13, 2018
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. (Cliff Owen/AP)
Rex Tillerson was fired Tuesday as America’s top diplomat.
President Trump’s decision to replace his secretary of state with CIA Director Mike Pompeo has been anticipated for months, but the timing and manner of the move caught Washington, and Tillerson, by surprise.
“We have somebody from the State Department basically saying that he didn't know this was coming,” said Nahal Toosi, Politico foreign affairs correspondent, on the NPR program On Point. “And so this shocked just about everybody watching.”
We jumped on the subject Tuesday morning, shortly after the news was announced. We talked to Toosi, as well as Michael Warren, senior writer, the Weekly Standard, Anne Applebaum, Washington Post columnist, and Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School.
The shock of Tillerson’s sudden departure continued into Tuesday afternoon: The State Department official who said Tillerson didn’t see his ouster coming was also fired, according to reports.
“When February rolled around and (Tillerson) hit his one year mark, there was a sense that he kind of hit his stride,” Noosi said. “There was a sense that he was settling in, that he had maybe patched over his differences with the president. But again this is a Trump administration and things are never always as they seem.”
Here are highlights from our conversation with our panel:
What It Signals About The Future
Applebaum: “Yesterday I had a conversation with somebody who has worked with Tillerson at the State Department and he was describing how the department functioned, and he told he said, ‘Well, we make foreign policy without Trump. We ignore his tweets. We don't pay attention what he says. We just go on acting like we're a normal administration.’ That's an interesting way to conduct foreign policy, but I wonder how long it's going to last. Now we see that it doesn't. So it seems it seems clear that Trump has wanted somebody who somehow reflects more his own view, whatever that is.”
Pompeo As Iran Deal Hawk
Warren: “President Trump doesn't have quite have hard and fast views on a lot of particular issues. He does not like the Iran, deal but he doesn't really have a strong view about what to do about it. Mike Pompeo, on the other hand, is somebody who thought a lot about this he thought a lot about this and argued against the Iran deal in Congress.”
Big Picture: Diplomacy Takes A Back Seat
Walt: “You have a White House that didn't have much regard for the State Department from the very beginning but at the same time you also had a secretary of state who never seemed to actually be comfortable with the department that he was leading. … You had essentially both the White House and the State Department that not only were not in sync with each other but never seemed to have a clear idea of the role that diplomacy was going to play.”
What Our Allies Are Saying
Applebaum: "Trump is seen as having undermined several decades of building American friendship, several decades of policy, the creation of smooth trade regimes, the creation of allied military operations — all of that is seen as having been destroyed. So you know the appointment of Pompeo is going to be greeted as, OK we're going to roll our eyes and get ready for another barrage of chaos and another barrage of disorganization in the United States."
The Russia Question
Walt: “It's clear that Tillerson was more critical of Russia, and I think he was more willing to sort of acknowledge Russia's efforts to manipulate American politics than the president has been. It's also worth noting however that Mike Pompeo, the person who's now been designated to succeed him, has also supported the intelligence community's conclusions that Russia was involved here.”
The Torture Question — Pompeo’s potential successor as CIA director, Gina Haspel, was involved in Bush-era torture
Walt: “I think it's going to be an appointment that the CIA actually welcomes because it's an insider and they prefer to be led by insiders, rather than by outsiders who occasionally try to shake things up. I would also anticipate it's going to get some pushback at least from Democrats in Congress given her involvement in Bush era torture activities as well.”
Stephen Walt, professor of international affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School. (@stephenwalt)
TRUMP SEEKS FORGIVENESS FOR TARIFFS FROM THE KOCHS
John Nichols in Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to The Most Dangerous People In America (2017) calls Mike Pompeo "The Koch Brother." Nichols posits that the" Republican wave" election of 2010, when brothers Charles and David Koch emerged as defining figures in American politics, the greatest beneficiary of Koch Industries largess was newly elected congressman Mike Pompeo. Since his election, Pompeo has been referred to as the "Koch Brothers' congressman" and "the congressman from Koch."
Trump needed forgiveness for proposing tariffs on steel and aluminum imported into the United States. Charles Koch, as a globalist--neoliberal, is vehemently opposed to tariffs.
Pompeo who headed the CIA under Trump, is a contrarian opposed to the Iran nuclear deal, the closing of Guantanamo Bay detention camp, and a defender of the national Security Agency's (NSA unconstitutional surveillance programs as "good and important work." He is such a hardliner that Human Rights Watch urgently opposed his confirmation as CIA director.
However, the Republican-controlled confirmed by a wider margin than most Trump picks, 66-32, when the Senate considered his nomination in January 2017. Pompeo has assumed a position of great sensitivity as one of the most strikingly conflicted political figures in the frequently conflicted city of Washington, thanks to his ties to the privately held and frequently secretive global business empire that has played a pivotal role in advancing his political career. He is not the only Koch-tied politician in the Trump administration. UN ambassador Nikki Haley is another. OMB director Mich Mulvaney is another. EPA administer Scott Pruitt is still another. But it is fair to say that Pompeo is the most Koched up of the bunch, and that's a big deal, as the experience of bending to Koch brothers does not prepare politicians to serve honorably in positions of public trust.
The Kochs were not big fans of Trump in 2016, and Trump was not a big fan of the Kochs. But as he staffed up his cabinet, Trump was looking for pliable politicians. And Koch politicians are defintionally pliable.
They are reliably pro-corporate, and reliably friendly to the sort of crony capitalism that keeps contractors not just for the military but for the intelligence services rolling in tax dollars. The Kochs like to say they are against crony capitalism. So does Trump. But, just as Trump has not drained the Washington swamp, so Koch-tied appointees like Pompeo are not going to oppose the contracting schemes that barter off intelligence gathering and monitoring almost as aggressively as the Pentagon barters off what was once military work to the
highest bidders of the military-industrial-complex.
As Trump slashes funding for the State Department, watch for him to make more use of the CIA--once he is satisfied that the agency is sufficiently loyal to him. Watch for Pompeo to display that loyalty to Trump, his new boss, just as he was steadily loyal to his old bosses the Kochs.
The Pompeo-Koch connection runs deep.
More important, from a political standpoint, is the fact that Pompeo made the leap from business to government with a huge boost from the Koch brothers and their employees.
Recalling the 2010 election, the Center for Responsive Politics explained that "Koch Industries had never spent as much on a candidate in a single cycle as it did on Pompeo that time around, giving him a total of $80,000. Koch outdid itself again in the 2012 cycle by ponying up $110,000 for Pompeo's campaign."
Just as the Kochs have been loyal to Pompeo, so Pompeo has been loyal to the Kochs. He's a regular at their behind-closed doors gatherings and he's outspoken in their defense, claiming that President Obama and "Nixonian" Democrats have unfairly "vilified" Charles and David Koch.
But, of course, the supposed vilification has simply involved a questioning of the of the influence wielded by billionaires in general and the Kochs in particular over American politics and governance. That's hardly an unreasonable concern, considering that, as one of the most prominent Koch-backed politicians in the country. Pompeo was called out just weeks after taking office for proposing legislative initiatives that "could benefit many of the Kochs' business interests."
Koch business interest demanded that Trump do and act contrition and obedience to the Kochs by firing Tillerson and replacing him with Pompeo in order keep himself in office.
Mike Pompeo has been a leading critic of the nuclear deal with Iran and has said the U.S. would not soften its stance on North Korea ahead of planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and President Trump.
Mike Pompeo, whom President Trump tapped Tuesday to replace Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, has an extraordinary résumé. He graduated at the top of his class at West Point. He served as a tank officer in Europe. He went to Harvard Law School.
He was a corporate lawyer who launched a successful aerospace business. He got elected to Congress as a Tea Party Republican from Kansas in 2010. For more than a year, he has run the CIA.
However, he has never been a diplomat, either by profession or temperament.
"Pompeo is very much a hard-liner on issues of national security, broadly," said Ian Bremmer, head of the Eurasia Group, which analyzes global politics. "He's smart, but he's also quite bombastic, and that plays well with Trump. But that doesn't necessarily support a balanced national security policy."
Pompeo recently declared that the U.S. would not soften its stance on North Korea ahead of planned talks between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Trump.
Pompeo has previously suggested he favors regime change in North Korea, though, he said in December, "I've learned the art of nuance in my 10 months" at the CIA. "So suffice it to say, I hope that diplomatic and economic pressure will help resolve this in a way that doesn't require a military outcome that I know nobody is excited about."
Pompeo has also been a leading critic of the nuclear deal with Iran. He took the unusual step of sending a warning letter to Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's Al-Quds force, which operates in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
"I sent a note to Qasem Soleimani because he indicated that forces under his control might threaten the U.S.," Pompeo said during a conference last year at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library outside Los Angeles. "He refused to open the letter. It didn't break my heart."
'Very good chemistry'
"With Mike, we've had a very good chemistry from the beginning," Trump told reporters Tuesday, before leaving for California. Trump said Gina Haspel, the deputy director at the CIA, would be replacing Pompeo.
One of Pompeo's strengths is his strong personal bond with the president.
Leon Panetta, who served as a CIA director under President Barack Obama, says he and Pompeo speak regularly about the job they've shared.
"God bless Mike Pompeo for having the ability to sit down with the president and have the president listen. I was a little worried about that," said Panetta, who appeared alongside Pompeo at the event held at the Reagan library. "But if Mike is doing that, and the president is engaged, that is extremely important to the president being able to do the job."
However, The Washington Post recently challenged this scenario, reporting that the face-to-face presidential briefings tended to play down or avoid matters relating to Russia, which might upset Trump.
"Russia-related intelligence that might draw Trump's ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally, said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter," the newspaper reported.
Pompeo's supporters say he'll be a much better fit as secretary of state than was Rex Tillerson, who often seemed out of sync with the president.
Pompeo is likely to have far more credibility as the president's surrogate when he speaks to foreign leaders.
Hard power vs. soft power
"Donald Trump is really comfortable with a guy in uniform, a guy who is the spymaster," said Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.
But there will be challenges, she said, because the president appears to prefer the hard power of the military.
"I suspect [Trump] has much less of an affinity for the soft power that diplomacy represents," she said. "So will Mike Pompeo's good rapport with the president be able to withstand the soft power vibe of the State Department? Great question. Don't know."
After winning election to Congress in 2010, Pompeo has risen rapidly as an aggressive partisan.
Before he joined the Trump administration, he was perhaps best known as an outspoken critic of Hillary Clinton and the way she handled the attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012, when she was secretary of state. The U.S. ambassador and three security personnel were killed in the attack.
“Tariffs will not add thousands of American jobs,” Koch wrote. “Instead, the research shows that, while they preserve some jobs that would otherwise disappear, they reduce many other higher productivity jobs. The net effect will be not more jobs, but lower overall productivity. They also reduce choice, competition, innovation and opportunity.”
Trump has suggested imposing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent aluminum tariff. Details of the plan have not yet been hammered out and may include exemptions for Canada and Mexico. Trump announced on Twitter there would be a meeting Thursday regarding the tariffs.
Looking forward to 3:30 P.M. meeting today at the White House. We have to protect & build our Steel and Aluminum Industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation toward those that are real friends and treat us fairly on both trade and the military.
Peter Navarro, the director of the White House’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, told Fox Business on Wednesday night that Trump would be signing a tariff proclamation Thursday.
The White House press office told Newsweek they were working on guidance regarding what the meeting would entail.
Koch Industries, a multinational conglomerate based in Kansas, pulls in billions of dollars in profits annually, which includes working in the American steel industry. Koch wrote that tariffs in the past, including those on steel, had largely failed.
“History is filled with examples of administrations that have implemented trade restrictions with devastating results,” opined Koch. “President George W. Bush’s 30 percent steel tariff led to increased consumer costs and higher unemployment.”
Koch worries that the progress he feels the tax cuts made might be erased by the tariffs.
“Without a doubt, those who can least afford it will be harmed the most. Having just helped consumers keep more of their money by passing tax reform, it makes little sense to take it away via higher costs,” wrote Koch. “Tariffs will only perpetuate the rigged system that threatens the very core of our society.”
Billionaire Charles Koch, who didn’t support Donald Trump in the 2016 election, feels the tariffs will erase the progress he feels the tax cuts made. Koch, whose company Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in the U.S. wrote that tariffs will hurt the U.S. economy and called the move “short-term thinking.”Damian Dovarganes/AP
A worker at the Pacific Machinery &Tool Steel Company in Portland, Ore. (Natalie Behring/Getty Images)
By Charles KochMarch 7
Charles Koch is chairman of the board and chief executive of Koch Industries.
By many measures, America’s economy is strong. Unemployment is down, the stock market is up and consumer confidence is rising. Although far too many barriers still keep a large portion of our population from fully participating in these benefits, we are making real progress.
Several recent policies have contributed to this improvement. They include federal tax reform (which is far from perfect, but is a step in the right direction), the administration’s regulatory reforms and many improvements by state governments. To ensure that this prosperity is shared by everyone, even more policy improvements are necessary.
Widespread and lasting progress requires the free exchange of ideas, goods and services. It is no coincidence that our quality of life has improved over the years as the average U.S. tariff on imported goods has fallen — from nearly 20 percent in 1932 to less than 4 percent in 2016.
A society that embraces free and open exchange not only provides the greatest abundance, it enables the growth of knowledge and life-enhancing innovations that uplift everyone. Just as the United States benefits from the ideas and skills that opportunity-seeking immigrants bring with them, free trade has been essential to our society’s prosperity and to people improving their lives.
The same has been true throughout history. Countries with the freest trade have tended to not only be the wealthiest but also the most tolerant. Conversely, the restriction of trade — whether through tariffs, quotas or other means — has hurt the economy and pitted people against each other. Tariffs increase prices, limit choices, reduce competition and inhibit innovation. Equally troubling, research shows that they fail to increase the number of jobs overall. Consider the devastation of cities such as Detroit, where trade barriers to aid the auto industry did nothing to halt its decline.
The administration’s recent decision to impose major steel and aluminum tariffs — on top of higher tariffs on washing machines and solar panels — will have the same harmful effect. Without a doubt, those who can least afford it will be harmed the most. Having just helped consumers keep more of their money by passing tax reform, it makes little sense to take it away via higher costs.
One might assume that, as the head of Koch Industries — a large company involved in many industries, including steel — I would applaud such import tariffs because they would be to our immediate and financial benefit. But corporate leaders must reject this type of short-term thinking, and we have. If we are to have a system in which businesses can succeed long term, policies must benefit everyone, not just the few.
Unfortunately, tariffs are not the only problem. Our entire economy is rife with cronyism, resulting in regulations and subsidies that are destroying competition, opportunity and innovation. Koch Industries benefits from many of these, as do many established companies, but we consistently work to eliminate them. We only support policies that are based on equality under the law and that help people improve their lives. This is why we successfully lobbied to end direct ethanol subsidies, despite being one of the largest ethanol producers in the United States. It is why we fought against the inclusion of a border adjustment tax in the tax-reform package, even though it would have greatly increased our profits by increasing costs to consumers.
History is filled with examples of administrations that have implemented trade restrictions with devastating results. At the dawn of the Great Depression, theSmoot-Hawley Tariff Act raised U.S. tariffs on more than 20,000 imported goods, which accelerated our decline instead of correcting it. More recently, President George W. Bush’s 30 percent steel tariff led to increased consumer costs and higher unemployment. And President Barack Obama’s 2009 decision to raise tariffs on Chinese tires ultimately burdened consumers with $1.1 billion in higher prices. The cost per job saved was nearly $1 million , not considering all the lost jobs that went unmeasured.
Tariffs will not add thousands of American jobs. Instead, the research shows that, while they preserve some jobs that would otherwise disappear, they reduce many other higher productivity jobs. The net effect will be not more jobs, but lower overall productivity. They also reduce choice, competition, innovation and opportunity. Predictably, after the announcement of the tariff on washing-machine imports, South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics told retailers that it would increase its prices. Tariffs will only perpetuate the rigged system that threatens the very core of our society. When large companies can pressure politicians to force everyday Americans to fork over unearned millions, we should all question the fairness of the system.
Given all of this, it is easy to see why a recent Gallup survey found that nearly two out of three Americans don’t trust our institutions. It’s hard to blame them. To include millions more of our people in true economic progress, our lawmakers must act on behalf of all Americans — not just the privileged few. If they do, I am confident we can regain our citizens’ trust and ensure that America’s best days are yet to come. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/corporate-leaders-must-reje...