The confirmation process for the United States' next CIA director is underway, and it doesn't look like it's going to be an easy decision. In March, Donald Trump shared who he thought would be a good fit to replace former director Mike Pompeo, who has since but Meghan McCain is calling out Gina Haspel's CIA nomination for reasons that'll break your heart. After all, it wouldn't be a Trump nomination if there wasn't some controversy involved.
On May 10, Meghan McCain, daughter of Republican Sen. John McCain, discussed Haspel's nomination for director of the CIA on The View. Trump's nomination of Haspel stirred serious controversy among political circles, due to her role in the CIA's interrogation practices. Prior to her nomination, Haspel served as deputy director of the agency under Mike Pompeo, who has since taken over the role of secretary of state. And although Trump may believe in her capabilities, others aren't so convinced. Haspel is under public criticism because of her role in an interrogation program that took place in a CIA "black site prison" in Thailand in 2002. The program was shown to use torture methods on detainees including waterboarding and sleep deprivation. On May 9, Haspel appeared in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and when she was asked whether she believed previous interrogation techniques were "immoral," the CIA director hopeful didn't necessarily give a 'yes' or 'no' answer.
"I believe that CIA did extraordinary work to prevent another attack on this country given the legal tools we were asked to use," Haspel said.
While discussing Haspel's nomination, McCain passionately criticized torture practices, and urged the United States to "be better."
"If you are OK with waterboarding ... I think that is psychotic," McCain said. "What's next? Are we going to be like [the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS and chop people's heads off?"
McCain's opposition to torture during interrogation stems from a very personal place. McCain's father, Sen. John McCain, has openly discussed the torture he experienced during his status as a prisoner of war while serving in the Vietnam War. According to CNN, Sen. McCain was held for more than five years in Vietnam's infamous detention facility known as the "Hanoi Hilton," and was reportedly tortured from 1967 until his release in 1973, leaving lasting injuries.
“He couldn’t lift me up over his head when I was a baby. He can’t ride a bike. He has more injuries that have lasted his entire life since,” McCain told The View.
McCain isn't the only one speaking against Haspel's nomination. Sen. John McCain himself has also openly spoken against the CIA director hopeful. On March 13, John McCain took to Twitter to share his thoughts on her nomination, and urged the public to fight against these interrogation programs.
Despite John McCain's personal ties to this subject, that didn't stop conservative circles from raising a rebuttal. Liz Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, replied to Sen. McCain's tweet, and expressed her support for the Enhanced Interrogation Program, a list of extensive interrogation techniques drafted by the CIA in 2001, which includes waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other methods. Her father, Dick Cheney, has also discussed his support for the program, and even told Fox & Friends on May 10 that he would "restart" them if it were up to him.
In response to Cheney's tweet, McCain certainly had some thoughts to share, and replied with a straightforward clap back that needed no further commentary.
Even though some may be coming to Haspel's defense, that hasn't stopped Sen. McCain from voicing his opposition. On May 9 Sen. McCain urged Senate members to vote against Haspel's nomination. In his statement, Sen. McCain acknowledged Haspel as a "patriot," but noted that her statements about torture being used in interrogation practices should disqualify her as a nominee.
[Haspel] is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.
In July 2017, Sen. McCain was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer. He has also battled with melanoma, a form of skin cancer, a few times in the past. Following reports of his brain cancer diagnosis, political figures from all over took to Twitter to share their support and admiration for him.
Even while battling cancer, Sen. McCain continuously proves he's a fighter for the American people. No matter what, it's clear he'll never stop standing up for what he believes in.