Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) released a statement opposing the nomination of Gina Haspel as the new director of the CIA after her testimony in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday.
Here’s what McCain said
McCain tweeted a statement explaining why he opposed the nomination Wednesday.
I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country & has devoted her professional life to its service & defense. However, her role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing & her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. https://t.co/ocDtdqU2Sx
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 10, 2018
“Today, Gina Haspel testified before the Senate and to the country about her qualifications to lead the CIA,” he said in the statement. “This occasion provided an opportunity to provide details about her experience in the CIA, explain her involvement in the so-called enhanced interrogation program during the Bush Administration, and account for the mistakes the country made in torturing detainees held in U.S. custody after the September 11th attacks. Unfortunately, the testimony the American people heard from Ms. Haspel today failed to address these concerns.”
“Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked,” he continued. “I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm.”
“I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty,” he added. “But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.”
“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense,” he said. “However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing.”
“Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying,” McCain concluded. “I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”
Haspel was grilled by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, especially Senator Kamala Harris of California, who later said on CNN that she would be opposing the nomination for the same reason McCain cited. A segment later, former CIA official Phillip Mudd excoriated Harris and other Democrats for what he called “collective amnesia” about the enhanced interrogation techniques they criticized as “torture.”
While it was surprising that McCain, a Republican, would go against a nominee by a Republican president, McCain has often been at odds with Trump. The president mocked McCain during the 2016 campaign, and McCain voted against the Trump-endorsed healthcare bill in September, sealing its fate.
81-year-old McCain is battling brain cancer, and may not be able to return to the Senate for voting, depending on his health.