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The Conservative Case Against Gina Haspel

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The White House is insisting that Gina Haspel move forward in nomination as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, despite her own concerns that the Senate hearings—expected to begin Wednesday—could turn brutal over her history in the CIA’s torture program. The Trump administration would be smart to heed her concerns.

Predictably, progressives like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ron Wyden, and Bernie Sanders have come out strongly against her. Libertarian Republican Senator Rand Paul said not only that he’ll vote against Haspel, but that he’ll filibuster her nomination. Paul does that kind of thing to nominees who have a background in the CIA’s torture program—he also filibustered, albeit unsuccessfully, John Brennan’s nomination as CIA director when President Obama made that appointment in 2013.

But in addition to progressive and libertarian concerns, there is also a conservative case to be made against Haspel—and certainly a Christian case against her.

Almost none of my progressive friends know that I’m a former adjunct professor of intelligence studies at Liberty University, the right-wing evangelical university founded by the late Jerry Falwell. Liberty prides itself on its record of turning out conservatives and evangelicals and preparing them for a lifetime of activism. While there, I was assigned to the Helms School of Government, named after the late Republican senator Jesse Helms, one of the most deeply conservative members that body has ever seen. I genuinely liked and respected every professor and administrator I encountered at the Helms School, and I consider many of them to be my friends.
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A Warning for Democrats, and Indeed for All Americans

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Many Americans, at least most in my circle, are enjoying watching Donald Trump self-destruct. It’s bad for the country, but to some of us it’s as much fun as watching a train wreck. And maybe if the Democrats can get their act together, they can win back the House in 2018 and the Senate and White House in 2020. Trump is making it look like it might be easy.

But I have a warning for Democrats, and indeed for all Americans. For God’s sake, don’t elevate the likes of former CIA directors Michael Hayden and John Brennan and the former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, to the position of “senior statesmen.” They are not the voices of reason, either for the Democrats or for anybody else. They are monsters who have ignored the Constitution, the US code, and international law. They have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity. We should shun them, not celebrate them.

Hayden is probably the most public of the three. The former director of both the NSA and the CIA has never seen a camera that he didn’t want to get in front of. He’s a regular on the Sunday morning talk shows, the cable news networks, and even Comedy Central. He sucks up to the right and then sucks up to the left if he thinks it’ll get him a little screen time. But let me tell you something from personal first-hand experience: I am convinced that he’s a danger to the American way of life.

Hayden headed the NSA from 1999 to 2005. It was on his watch that the NSA made the decision to spy on American citizens when he championed the Trailblazer Program. It was Hayden who targeted whistleblowers Thomas Drake, Bill Binney, and Kirk Wiebe. It was Hayden who created a domestic call telephone database to keep a record of every phone call and text message made by every American and to hold it forever. And he’s been utterly unapologetic. Hayden said during his confirmation hearings that intercepting the communications of Americans was “consistent with the Constitution,” even if it meant overriding or ignoring laws forbidding warrantless wiretapping.
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The Man Who Captured Abu Zubaydah Says It’s Time to End His Ordeal and Send Him Home

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Accused terrorist Abu Zubaydah has not had his day in court yet. But earlier this week he had his day before a military Periodic Review Board, which apparently has the power to determine whether or not he should be released from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Zubaydah wasn’t allowed to speak. Instead, a soldier read the prisoner’s prepared statement.

Zubaydah said he posed no threat to the United States or to anyone else and should be released. He said he had been subjected to torture by the CIA—this is fully documented in the Senate torture report—and that he wanted to go home.

For its part, the Periodic Review Board, a part of the military detention system and made up of representatives of six US intelligence agencies, released its own report, trying to justify to itself and others why Zubaydah has no hope of ever being released.
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