In response to President Trump’s nominations, Sen. Rand Paul is threatening a filibuster, in order to keep Mike Pompeo from becoming the secretary of state and Gina Haspel from becoming the director of the CIA.
Paul said during a press conference that he would do everything in his power to prevent the nominees from assuming their prospective roles. His reasoning stems from Pompeo’s fervor for regime change wars in the Middle East, and Haspel’s experience as the head of a CIA “black site” prison in Thailand.
“People complain sometimes about the filibuster—they complain about trying to obstruct. I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” Paul said. “I’m going to do everything I can to block them.”
Paul said that his opposition to Haspel becoming the director of the CIA stems from her “direct participation in interrogation” and her “gleeful enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured.”
In 2002, Haspel was the head of a secret CIA prison in Thailand, code-named “Cat’s Eye,” where alleged Al-Qaeda members were detained and tortured. The “gleeful enjoyment” Paul referenced was from the account of one interrogator who recalled Haspel’s response to a detainee who was being water-boarded.
In addition to overseeing the torture, Reuters reported that Haspel “carried out an order to destroy videotapes of the waterboarding” and other torture methods, after she was instructed to do so by the Bush Administration.
Haspel would replace Mike Pompeo as CIA director if Pompeo’s nomination for secretary of state is successful. Paul claimed that his opposition to Pompeo is specifically because Pompeo’s foreign policy views represent everything Trump claimed to be against during his presidential campaign.
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Pompeo has referred to Iran as a “thuggish police state,” and he has said he believes Iran is directly influencing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is why the United States should continue to push for regime change in Syria.
"It is difficult to imagine a stable Syria that still has Assad in power,” Pompeo said. “He is a puppet of the Iranians and therefore it seems an unlikely situation where Assad will be sitting on the throne and America's interests will be well served.”
Pompeo has also made comments that show his views on foreign policy in the Middle East are painfully twisted, and he places the blame for the death and destruction in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen solely on Iran while ignoring the horrific, ruthless role the U.S. has played in supporting the ongoing violence and chaos.
“In recent years, the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] has become more reckless and provocative, seeking to exploit the vacuum left by instability in the Middle East to aggressively expand its influence," Pompeo said. "It openly vows to annihilate Israel. And when you look at the death and destruction inflicted in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq by Tehran and its proxies, the threat is clear: Iran is mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region."
Sen. Paul has vowed to do everything in his power to keep Haspel from becoming the next CIA director and Pompeo from becoming the next secretary of state, which leaves many Americans hoping that other congressmen will join in the fight.
“I’m perplexed by the nomination of people who love the Iraq War so much that they would advocate for a war with Iran next,” Paul said. “It goes against most of the things President Trump campaigned on, that the unintended consequences of regime change in Iraq led to instability in the Middle East.”