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.

Cases: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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