Rand Paul says Haspel’s lack of candor is disqualifying

Sen. Rand Paul is criticizing Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the CIA, for not declassifying her role in the agency’s “extreme rendition and torture-by-proxy,” arguing that the lack of candor disqualified her from the role.

In an article for Politico Magazine published Friday, the Kentucky Republican wrote that Haspel’s CIA was “rendering accused terrorists to unfathomable torture in Syria, as well as Egypt and Jordan.” In his piece, Paul questions her involvement in the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian engineer whose transfer to and torture in Syria was recounted in a 2005 New Yorker article.

“Was Haspel simply a loyal dupe, unable to protest an accused man being sent to certain barbaric torture? Or was she an eager participant in this dark chapter in our history?” Paul asks.

“If she had any criticisms at the time, Haspel, who is currently the acting head of the CIA, has the power to declassify them. And yet all we’ve gotten are select records that don’t address her participation in extraordinary rendition,” the senator wrote.

“Know this: That fact alone should be enough to cause the Senate to reject her nomination,” he concluded.

At her confirmation hearing Wednesday, Haspel vowed that she would not restart the CIA’s detention and interrogation program if confirmed to the top job. She also said she “would not allow CIA to undertake activity that I thought was immoral, even if it was technically legal.”

Haspel made clear in the hearing that she did not think it was the role of the CIA to interrogate suspects, but failed to condemn its use of waterboarding and other advanced interrogation tactics in the wake of 9/11.

“I’m not going to sit here with the benefit of hindsight and judge the very good people who made hard decisions who were running the agency in very extraordinary circumstances at the time,” Haspel said.

Paul, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has spoken out against Haspel’s candidacy in the past, even vowing to filibuster her nomination. Fellow Republican Sen. John McCain has also called on the Senate to reject Haspel for refusing to acknowledge “torture’s immorality.”