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Kiriakou writes: "There are about six weeks left in this administration. And Haspel must live in a dream world if she thinks that the same Democrats who voted against her in the Senate would suddenly change their minds and cast votes in her favor in the unlikely event that Joe Biden decided to keep her on."

John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)
John Kiriakou. (photo: The Washington Post)

It's Time to Say Goodbye to Gina Haspel

By John Kiriakou, Reader Supported News

16 November 20


he CIA’s director, “Bloody” Gina Haspel, appeared to be in the hot seat last week, with rumors rampant that she’s lost the support of her patron, President Donald Trump. After rumors hit CNN and the Washington Post that Trump was unhappy with Haspel and was thinking of firing her, the scrappy bureaucratic survivor took to Capitol Hill to meet with Republican leaders and members of the Senate Intelligence Committee to shore up her support.

I wondered why she even bothered. There are about six weeks left in this administration. And Haspel must live in a dream world if she thinks that the same Democrats who voted against her in the Senate would suddenly change their minds and cast votes in her favor in the unlikely event that Joe Biden decided to keep her on. Remember, the deciding factor in Trump’s decision to name Haspel CIA director in the first place was that she supported the George W. Bush-era torture program, she headed one of the torture sites, and she was the CIA’s senior officer at Guantanamo when prisoners were being tortured there. Trump liked that.

So why has Haspel’s admiring boss suddenly turned on her? According to CNN, “Some Trump advisors believe Haspel has been ‘insubordinate’ to both the President and Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, arguing that she routinely circumvents the chain of command to further her own agenda and that of the CIA.” Specifically, she apparently has gone to Capitol Hill to brief members of Congress “on internal executive branch discussions before the President or Ratcliffe had come to a final decision. She did this without asking other principals involved what they were thinking. It was an attempt to pressure the White House toward a certain outcome that she wanted,” according to an unnamed source familiar with internal White House discussions.

I can tell you from my 15 years of CIA experience (and another two years at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) that if Haspel did indeed brief members of Congress on internal executive branch deliberations, that is a fireable offense. From an officer’s first day at the CIA, management at every level stresses the “chain of command.” You never, ever go above your boss’s head or around him or her to somebody else. That she would go to the oversight committees and speak out of school about the White House, if that is what she did, would mean a certain trip to the unemployment line. I remember once when I was a junior officer saying to a colleague that it must be nice to be in the Senior Intelligence Service, the CIA’s top leadership cadre, where you can run the show and do what you want. “I don’t know,” he responded. “I think the bigger they are, the harder they fall.” He was right.

Trump also is angry with Haspel because the CIA director has pushed back—hard—on Trump’s quest to declassify documents related to alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Trump has long sought to prove that the Russians had nothing to do with his victory over Hillary Clinton. But the CIA just won’t play ball and release the documents that Trump wants. In fact, this isn’t unique to Haspel. No CIA director wants to declassify documents. Ever. Why do you think we’re still waiting for documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy to be declassified after 57 years, despite the fact that we have a 30-day mandatory declassification law in this country? When I was at the CIA (I left in 2004) we were still working on declassifying—or denying the declassification of—documents related to Nazi war criminals. Seriously.

To tell you the truth, I don’t care why Trump wants to fire Haspel. I just want him to go ahead and do it. Gina Haspel should never have been the CIA director in the first place. Her actions in the torture program should have disqualified her. The message of her appointment was simple: Engage in war crimes, in crimes against humanity, and get promoted. You might even become director. Don’t worry about the law. Don’t worry about ethics or morality. Go ahead and do it anyway. We’ll cover for you. And you can destroy evidence of torture, too.

Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Donald Trump was dead wrong to hire Gina Haspel three years ago. He was wrong to keep her at the CIA all this time. But now he wants to fire her. He’s finally right. And that is what we should celebrate.

John Kiriakou is a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. John became the sixth whistleblower indicted by the Obama administration under the Espionage Act - a law designed to punish spies. He served 23 months in prison as a result of his attempts to oppose the Bush administration's torture program.

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