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What Gina Haspel's Confirmation Really Represents

June 12, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

Gina Haspel was sworn in as the Central Intelligence
Agency’s (CIA) first female director on May 21, 2018
following a controversial nomination period and a contentious
Senate confirmation hearing. While Haspel is qualified for her new
role—she is a career intelligence officer with 33 years of
service in the CIA—her appointment is troublesome because of
her involvement in the United States’ torture program and endorsement of destroying interrogation tapes of key terrorist
suspects.

In the context of U.S. foreign policy, her appointment
represents two troubling developments: an erosion of checks and
balances on the executive, and a potential “torture redux.”

A president’s constitutional powers are complicated, and
law professors are often divided on the issue of the scope and limits of
presidential power. Haspel’s advocates argue that she would
be in a unique position to restrain President Trump, who publicly voiced
support of torture, especially as his inner circle is filled up
with like-minded advisors. And she would be able to
do so for two reasons. First, her main focus is to improve the
CIA’s operational capacity—something former director
John O. Brennan also sought to do during his tenure at the CIA. During her swearing-in ceremony she
discussedboosting the agency’s
foreign-language proficiency, strengthening intelligence sharing
with allies, and deploying more covert officers abroad to better
serve as a foreign intelligence service. Second, she has a good professional relationshipwith Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo, having served as his deputy when he was the
director of the CIA before accepting his current position. Yet,
there was little discussion on how increasing the CIA’s
capacity might impact its tendency to inflate threats. For example,
declassified CIA documents from the 1950s and 1960s revealed that
the United States significantly overestimated the number of Soviet missiles. In January
2018, then CIA Director Pompeo spoke of the growing threats from China and Russia, though
there is a great deal of skepticism surrounding this claims. What is
even unclear is how Haspel will address the problem of threat
inflation.

I am preparing for the
continuation of a poorly informed hawkish foreign policy that will
result in misguided hardline approaches, troop increases, and a
sidelining of diplomacy. I just hope it does not include torture’s
comeback.

The U.S. torture program began under the Bush administration via
an executive order in 2002. President Barack Obama
ended the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques in 2009 but
opted not to pursue accountability for those
involved— one …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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