Opposition to the confirmation of Gina Haspel to replace outgoing CIA Director Mike Pompeo received a boost Monday as more than 100 retired military officers sent a letter to the Senate urging lawmakers to investigate her more closely before voting on her nomination.
"We urge you to examine closely the full extent of Ms. Haspel's involvement in the rendition, detention, and interrogation program and, should you find that she played any role in carrying out, supervising, or directing the torture or abuse of people in U.S. custody, or the destruction of evidence relating to these activities, we urge you to reject her nomination," the letter from 108 retired officers stated.
A top al Qaida suspect was subject to harsh interrogation techniques at a secret CIA prison in Thailand, and allegations have been raised Haspel mighy have pushed for the destruction of videotapes made of such sessions, according to the Washington Examiner.
"We are deeply troubled by the prospect of someone who appears to have been intimately involved in torture being elevated to one of the most important positions of leadership in the intelligence community," the letter stated.
Haspel, who is currently the deputy director of the CIA, faces a confirmation hearing next month, The Week reported.
The criticism of Haspel comes despite the endorsement she received from more than 50 senior intelligence officials who have served in both Republican and Democratic administrations, Politico reported.
Those backing her included John Brennan, Leon Panetta, and Michael Morell, who headed the CIA during Barack Obama's administration, as well as James Clapper, who was director of national intelligence during Obama's presidency.
The letter from the retired military officers acknowledged support for Haspel, but said "we do not accept efforts to excuse her actions relating to torture and other unlawful abuse of detainees by offering that she was 'just following orders,' or that shock from the 9/11 terrorist attacks should excuse illegal and unethical conduct," the letter read. "Haspel appears to have been involved in inappropriate actions that went beyond what was authorized by Congress or senior officials in the executive branch."
The letter also stressed her "disregard for lawful checks on the CIA's power is troubling" as "Haspel also appears to have strongly advocated for and played a key role in carrying out an order to destroy 92 videotapes of individuals in U.S. custody being subjected to torture . . . despite federal court orders requiring preservation of all records pertaining to detainee abuse."
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