- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Arizona Senator John McCain took to Twitter to announce he would not support CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel and urged his senate colleagues to spike her nomination. 

McCain pointed to Haspel’s involvement in enhanced interrogation techniques in the years following the terror attacks of 9/11 as his reason for opposing the nomination:

However, in 2013 McCain supported Barack Obama’s nominee for CIA, John Brennan despite his involvement in the very same program: 



Thirteen Republicans wound up voting for Brennan, including five members of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Among the most notable were Sens. John McCain (Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.).

At the time of his nomination, liberal journal The Atlantic pointed to Brennan’s robust participation in the same programs McCain references as disqualifying for Haspel. In fact, Brennan was more senior and more involved in the decision making process in carrying out the enhanced interrogation techniques: 

Last month, the Senate Intelligence Committee approved a report on CIA interrogations during the Bush Administration, when prisoners were tortured in violation of domestic and international law. “The report uncovers startling details about the CIA detention and interrogation program and raises critical questions about intelligence operations and oversight,” Senator Dianne Feinstein, an occasional apologist for executive power, said after the vote. “I strongly believe that the creation of long-term, clandestine ‘black sites’ and the use of so-called ‘enhanced-interrogation techniques’ were terrible mistakes. The majority of the Committee agrees.”

Arizona Senator John McCain, another War on Terror hawk, is among the several elected officials who have publicly called for the report to be declassified, but Dixon Osborn of Human Rights First made the case best: “Telling the American people the truth about torture isn’t a task that should be left up to speculative reporting, Hollywood filmmakers, or publishing houses. It should be based on the facts. Thankfully, that report already exists. Now it should be made public.”

In nominating John Brennan to head the CIA, President Obama has made it more urgent that the report be declassified. It is one of several sources that could help us to answer an important question: Are the American people being asked to entrust our clandestine spy agency and its killing and interrogation apparatuses to a man who was complicit in illegal torture?

There is strong circumstantial evidence that the answer is yes. At minimum, Brennan favored rendition and what he called “enhanced interrogation tactics” other than waterboarding. As Andrew Sullivan put it in 2008, when Obama first considered Brennan as CIA chief, “if Obama picks him, it will be a vindication of the kind of ambivalence and institutional moral cowardice that made America a torturing nation. It would be an unforgivable betrayal of his supporters and his ideals.”

So why the apparent double-standard for McCain? The Senator will have to answer that for himself. Lord knows if he wants to talk to the media, they will be eager to take his statement. They always have been. 

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