McCain: Trump’s CIA pick was involved in ‘one of the darkest chapters in American history’

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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLawmakers worry about rise of fake video technology Democrats put Dreamers and their party in danger by playing hardball Trump set a good defense budget, but here is how to make it better MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday condemned President TrumpDonald John TrumpAccuser says Trump should be afraid of the truth Woman behind pro-Trump Facebook page denies being influenced by Russians Shulkin says he has White House approval to root out ‘subversion’ at VA MORE’s decision to nominate Gina Haspel to become the director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), saying she was involved in “one of darkest chapters in American history.”

While he expressed confidence in current CIA Director Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoThe CIA may need to call White House to clarify Russia meddling Intel agencies to brief officials from all 50 states on election threats Russia probe complicating House hearing on threats facing US: report MORE’s ability to serve as secretary of State, an appointment Trump announced earlier Tuesday, McCain said in a statement that Haspel needs to explain her stance on torture. 

“The torture of detainees in U.S. custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history,” McCain said. “Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process.”

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Following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration “squandered precious moral authority” to get intelligence, McCain said.

Haspel joined the CIA in 1985 and faced scrutiny for her role surrounding waterboarding and other interrogation techniques used on detainees at a secret CIA prison in Thailand in 2002.

The American Civil Liberties Union said Haspel was “up to her eyeballs in torture, both in running a secret torture prison in Thailand and carrying out an order to cover up torture crimes by destroying videotapes.”

Progressive foreign policy groups are fighting back against her nomination, saying her direct role in the torture program should “disqualify her” from the position. 

Pompeo committed himself to enforcing federal law on interrogation techniques during his confirmation hearing last year to become CIA director.

“Any nominee for director of the CIA must pledge without reservation to uphold this prohibition, which has helped us regain our position of leadership in the struggle for universal human rights,” McCain said Tuesday.

McCain, who was tortured as a prisoner during in the Vietnam War, has sharply criticized Trump’s support of controversial interrogation policies like waterboarding. 

“I know from personal experience that the abuse of prisoners will produce more bad than good,” McCain said in 2014

Haspel was nominated to the top CIA position Tuesday after Trump announced on Twitter that he was ousting Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonFormer WH adviser: Trump will want to rejoin Paris climate pact by 2020 Why the US should lead on protecting Rohingya Muslims ‘Bolivarian Diaspora’ can no longer be ignored MORE and tapping Pompeo to take his post. If confirmed, Haspel will be the first woman to hold the position.  

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