Washington, D.C.- Today, Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Peace and Security Task Force Chair Congresswoman Barbara Lee, and other Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the leadership of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence urging them to reject the nomination of Gina Haspel for Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The Caucus first called on the Senate to oppose Haspel’s nomination in a statement, highlighting her previous involvement in torture and other human rights violations at CIA “black sites:”
The following members of the CPC signed on to the letter: CPC Co-Chair Rep. Rául M. Grijalva (D-AZ), CPC Co-Chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), CPC Peace and Security Taskforce Chair Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), CPC First Vice Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), CPC Vice Chair Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), CPC Vice Chair Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Rep. Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), Rep. Richard M. Nolan (D-MN), Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Brenda L. Lawrence (D-MI), Rep. Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH), Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA), Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. José E. Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Katherine Clark (D-MA), Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-FL), Rep. James P. McGovern (D-MA), Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), and Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (D-CT).
The full letter can be found here.
Dear Chairman Burr and Ranking Member Warner:
We write to express our deep concerns about the nomination and possible confirmation of Gina Haspel as the new Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director. Gina Haspel’s role as a prominent figure in President George W. Bush’s torture program should automatically disqualify her from leading the agency that perpetrated those illegal and immoral abuses.
Gina Haspel is credibly reported to have played a significant role in executing President George W. Bush’s covert torture program—which subjected suspected terrorists to brutal “interrogation” methods, including waterboarding—and to have actively participated in concealing those grave abuses.
It has not been disputed that, in 2002, Ms. Haspel was assigned to run a “black site” (secret prison) in Thailand, where at least one man was tortured on her watch, including the use of waterboarding. However, her full role in the illegal program—including whether and when she had supervisory authority over torture in other capacities, and if she was involved in kidnapping and forced disappearances (a practice euphemistically known as “extraordinary rendition”)—remains unclear. The CIA’s continued secrecy around the comprehensive details of Ms. Haspel’s involvement with the torture program is both undemocratic and shameful; the American people deserve that information and their elected Senators must have it to meaningfully fulfill their constitutional duty.
In addition to her reported role in the torture program, the CIA has now confirmed that Ms. Haspel actively participated in the destruction of videotapes recording the horrors the program produced—including drafting the cable that not only authorized destruction, but also (according to Ms. Haspel’s boss at the time) instructed CIA personnel to “use an industrial-strength shredder” so as to leave “nothing to chance.” That she was not the one who gave the final order does not absolve her of complicity in destroying evidence—an extremely serious matter—particularly given former acting CIA general counsel John Rizzo’s account that Ms. Haspel was a staunch and persistent lobbyist for destruction. By helping to hide one of America’s darkest hours, Ms. Haspel shares responsibility for preventing the American public from knowing the full truth about illegal CIA activities. Moreover, this act robbed congressional overseers and federal prosecutors of an un-sanitized, visceral representation of what “enhanced interrogation” truly meant. Indeed, according to internal CIA e-mails at the time, then-head of the agency’s clandestine service, Jose Rodriguez, is said to have told colleagues that “the heat from destroying [the tapes] is nothing compared to what it would be if the tapes ever got into the public domain – [Rodriguez] said that out of context they would make us look terrible; it would be ‘devastating’ to us.”
The lack of accountability to Congress, the American people and international law that Ms. Haspel has demonstrated should disqualify her from further public service, let alone from leading the agency that carried out these abuses.
We strongly urge the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to vote no on the nomination of Gina Haspel. Instead, we urge the committee to only advance nominees to direct the CIA who have, at minimum, seasoned track records of respecting and championing human rights and adhering to U.S. and international law.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) is the largest caucus within the House Democratic Caucus, with over 70 members standing up for progressive ideals in Washington and throughout the country. Since 1991, the CPC has advocated for progressive policies that prioritize working Americans over corporate interests, fight economic and social inequality, and promote civil liberties. The CPC champions progressive policy solutions like comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 national minimum wage, fair trade, gun violence reform, debt-free college, and making the federal government a Model Employer.