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Progressive outrage about Gina Haspel is unfair

Critics of President Donald Trump often say that he's failing to attract top talent to fill his leadership posts. The...

Posted: May 9, 2018 5:44 PM
Updated: May 9, 2018 5:44 PM

Critics of President Donald Trump often say that he's failing to attract top talent to fill his leadership posts. The irony is that once the President seeks to fill vacancies with qualified nominees, those same critics then seek to undermine their approval.

A case in point is Gina Haspel, Trump's nominee to head the CIA. Haspel's progressive critics are treating her unfairly, using her as a scapegoat for policies around interrogation techniques that weren't under her control and were backed by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which operated above her pay grade.

Robert Turner, former counsel to President Reagan's Intelligence Oversight Board and co-founder of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia, put it well in The Wall Street Journal: "Ms. Haspel is not an attorney, and she had every reason to rely in good faith on the legal memoranda produced by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel upholding the controversial techniques. As former ACLU Deputy Legal Adviser Jameel Jaffer recently noted, OLC opinions 'have the force of law within the executive branch.'"

Perhaps we can argue about whether the OLC operates without sufficient transparency -- Jaffer says "there's something disturbingly backwards, and even undemocratic, about a system that allows the government to conceal and withhold opinions that have the force of law unless and until someone requests them."

Progressives like to say that Trump has no respect for the rule of law, yet this argument around the OLC is a far different debate than one about whether Haspel should have undermined the rule of law and orders of her superiors. Would progressives have preferred that Haspel had gone rogue and disrespected the rule of law during her long CIA career? (Ironically, it's journalists such as those at ProPublica who have gone rogue in reporting erroneously about Haspel's career.)

And a debate around the OLC's interpretation of the interrogation techniques is a far different battle than one over whether Haspel is qualified to head the CIA after a distinguished career. Haspel is a public servant who started as a case officer in Africa, held the position of CIA station chief four times during her 33-year intelligence career, helped navigate CIA's Russia operation, and was a senior-level supervisor in counterterrorism. She would be the first career officer in 52 years to rise through the ranks to the CIA's helm and be the first woman to fill that role (funny how liberal feminists seek only to empower women associated with Democratic presidents).

Haspel has won the backing of national security officials from the right and left, including former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.), former Obama CIA director Leon Panetta, immediate past CIA director Mike Pompeo (who named her his top deputy), Michael Hayden, former head of both the CIA and the National Security Agency under George W. Bush, as well as James Clapper, former director of national intelligence in the Obama administration. Haspel has even won the backing of John Brennan, CIA director under Obama and an outspoken critic of Trump.

Haspel has also won the backing of Jeremy Bash, a former Obama administration Defense Department official and CIA chief of staff, who called Haspel "the rare CIA director nominee that both parties should love. "

"We need more people like Gina Haspel. Democrats and progressive organizations should be encouraged that a nonpartisan, professional woman has been nominated to be CIA director," Bash wrote.

Yet the progressive outrage around Haspel, who reportedly last weekend considered withdrawing her nomination -- triggering Trump to offer a statement of support -- is symptomatic of a far broader mania that has captivated Democrats on Capitol Hill, particularly when it comes to obstructing the President.

As of May 3, among President Trump's nominees, 39% of nominations had either failed or stalled in the Senate, a percentage far higher than other presidents at this point in their terms (30% for Obama, 28% for George W. Bush, 18% for Bill Clinton and 13% for George H.W. Bush), according to the Political Appointee Tracker at the Partnership For Public Service. And the average wait time for Trump's nominees, according to the same tracker, is 84 days, much longer than the 67 days for Obama, 45 for George W. Bush, 52 for Bill Clinton and 53 for George H.W. Bush.

Haspel shouldn't take the Democratic obstructionism personally. After all, she has had a long and successful, nonpartisan career of substantive service. It would be unfortunate if Haspel's career and our country's safety were derailed because of the left's politicking.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 34622

Reported Deaths: 1215
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds282449
DeSoto186519
Madison141936
Jones118549
Harrison109615
Rankin106315
Neshoba103976
Forrest97243
Lauderdale95481
Scott80915
Jackson74418
Washington70010
Copiah64215
Leake62120
Lee60022
Oktibbeha58928
Holmes57941
Warren57720
Grenada5698
Wayne56018
Yazoo5486
Lowndes53613
Leflore52856
Lamar5227
Lincoln51935
Pike48820
Sunflower4708
Lafayette4644
Monroe43935
Panola4326
Covington4295
Bolivar39418
Simpson3843
Attala38324
Newton36710
Adams34719
Pontotoc3396
Tate33313
Marion32412
Claiborne30011
Winston29611
Chickasaw29319
Pearl River28132
Noxubee2778
Marshall2763
Jasper2716
Clay25611
Walthall2497
Union24611
Smith23712
Coahoma2196
Clarke21725
Lawrence2022
Yalobusha2028
Kemper18314
Tallahatchie1784
Carroll17411
Humphreys16110
Calhoun1605
Montgomery1513
Itawamba1458
Tippah14411
Hancock14113
Webster13411
Jefferson1223
Tunica1213
Jefferson Davis1184
Prentiss1173
George1123
Greene11210
Amite1083
Quitman971
Tishomingo971
Wilkinson969
Alcorn942
Perry794
Choctaw754
Stone732
Franklin542
Sharkey470
Benton440
Issaquena101
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 49892

Reported Deaths: 1077
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson6219167
Mobile4625138
Montgomery4397111
Tuscaloosa258652
Madison19839
Marshall190411
Shelby155724
Lee153537
Morgan12415
Baldwin117011
Walker105631
Elmore100721
Dallas9789
Franklin92816
Etowah91914
DeKalb8647
Russell6650
Chambers66427
Autauga66214
Butler64529
Tallapoosa62569
Unassigned61627
Limestone5963
Houston5616
Lauderdale5556
Cullman5546
St. Clair4842
Colbert4816
Lowndes48022
Escambia4688
Pike4675
Calhoun4565
Coffee4164
Covington40312
Jackson4022
Barbour3772
Bullock37610
Dale3721
Talladega3677
Hale34323
Marengo34211
Clarke3036
Wilcox2998
Chilton2952
Winston2925
Sumter28713
Blount2811
Marion26714
Pickens2626
Monroe2553
Randolph2489
Conecuh2278
Perry2242
Bibb2151
Macon2129
Choctaw20912
Greene1929
Henry1463
Washington1367
Crenshaw1263
Lawrence1210
Cherokee1157
Geneva950
Lamar871
Clay822
Fayette811
Coosa631
Cleburne421
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