With Mike Pompeo leaving the CIA to head up the State Department, President Trump has chosen Gina Haspel to be the agency’s new director—but not all Republicans are on board with that pick.
Sen. Rand Paul said Wednesday that he opposes her nomination because it’s “the wrong kind of message to send to the world.” Paul was referring to her connection to enhanced interrogation techniques under the Bush administration. Haspel ran the agency’s “black site” prison where detainees were subject to interrogation methods such as waterboarding.
"To really appoint the head cheerleader for waterboarding to be head of the CIA? How can you trust somebody who did that to be in charge of the CIA," Paul questioned, adding, "To read of her glee during the waterboarding is just absolutely appalling."
Paul was referring to an account of a waterboarding session with suspected al Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah, who was subjected to so-called enhanced interrogation techniques now widely considered to be torture. A book written by one of the CIA interrogators and cited by ProPublica says Haspel addressed Zubaydah directly one session and mocked him. "Good job! I like the way you're drooling," she reportedly told him. "It adds to the realism. I'm almost buying it. You wouldn't think a grown man would do that." (CBS)
"When you read that sort of the joyful gleeful at someone who is being tortured, I find it just amazing that anyone would consider having this woman at the head of the CIA,” he said.
The Trump administration, he later told Fox News’s Harris Faulkner, “should not reward somebody who actually participated in torture treatment.”
Paul also opposes Trump's pick of Mike Pompeo to be secretary of state over his positions on foreign policy, especially toward Iran.
"It perplexes me that he is now nominating someone for secretary of State who has advocated and pushed for regime change in Iran," Paul said.