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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.

Cases: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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