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Rand Paul vows to block Trump nominees to run State and CIA

Issued: 2018-03-14

The Republican senator Rand Paul said on Wednesday he would oppose Donald Trump’s nomination of Gina Haspel for director of the CIA, accusing her of having shown “joyful glee” during the torture of terrorism suspects.

Paul also announced that he would try to block the president’s nomination of the current CIA director, Mike Pompeo, to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state.

The Kentucky senator’s stance could be especially awkward for Haspel, who is under scrutiny for reportedly overseeing a secret CIA prison in Thailand where detainees endured so-called enhanced interrogation techniques.

“To really appoint the head cheerleader for waterboarding to be head of the CIA?” Paul told reporters on Capitol Hill. “I mean, how could you trust somebody who did that to be in charge of the CIA? To read of her glee during the waterboarding is just absolutely appalling.”

Paul highlighted a ProPublica article from last year about a book written by one of the interrogators at the “black site” prison, recalling the waterboarding of the al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah.

He said: “The quote from one of the interrogators says that Gina Haspel said: ‘Good job! I like the way you’re drooling. It adds to the realism. I am almost buying it. You wouldn’t think a grown man would do that.’

“When you read that, sort of the joyful glee at someone who’s being tortured, I find it just amazing that anyone would consider having this woman for head of the CIA. So my opposition to her is over her direct participation in interrogation and her gleeful enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured.”

Haspel’s confirmation would send a “terrible” message to the world, Paul added. “I don’t want the message to be that if members of our armed services are captured that, since torture’s OK with the Americans, it’s going to be fine to torture Americans when they’re captured, and I think that is the message that it sends.”

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