Following a weeks-long propaganda campaign waged by the CIA and a highly secretive nomination process that has been denounced as one of the most "shameful moments" in the modern history of the Senate, six Democrats joined the vast majority of Republican senators on Thursday to confirm torturer Gina Haspel as President Donald Trump's CIA chief.
"This confirmation suggests we have learned nothing from a decade of shameful policies that stripped away human dignity and freedom and undermined the international rule of law."
—Daphne Eviatar, Amnesty International
"The confirmation of Gina Haspel marks the completion of President Trump's new war cabinet," Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action's senior director for policy and political affairs. "We now have a Bush-era neocon serving as national security adviser, an Islamophobic war hawk as Secretary of State, and a torturer as CIA director."
"Gina Haspel's confirmation is a black mark in our history, one we will regret," added Christopher Anders, deputy director of the ACLU's Washington Legislative Office.
The 54-45 vote came before many senators had even been able to review crucial components of Haspel's record, in large part because as acting CIA director, Haspel herself had final declassification authority over what was and wasn't made available to lawmakers for review.
"In our democracy, confirmations are not supposed to take place in secret. Nominees do not get to decide what is and isn't known about them," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who voted no on Haspel's confirmation, wrote on Twitter. "With Haspel's nomination, these principles have been thrown out the window."
There is much more that the full Senate and the public should know about Haspel’s background, and I am convinced that, if they did, her nomination would be rejected.
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 17, 2018
With two Republicans—Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.)—voting no and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) not voting, the six Democrats who voted yes provided the key support to make Haspel America's next CIA chief.
These lawmakers voted "yes" despite the pronounced and dramatic opposition of concerned citizens, civil libertarians, former government officials, and human rights groups over her role in the Bush administration's post-9/11 torture regime and subsequent destruction of evidence.
Here are the six Senate Democrats who voted to confirm Haspel: Mark Warner (Va.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).
Let’s be clear: if those Democrats who voted for Haspel had voted against her, she would not have been confirmed.
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) May 17, 2018
Senate confirms Gina Haspel as new CIA Director, a dark day for human rights.
— Human Rights Watch (@hrw) May 17, 2018
"The Senate has just confirmed that it will tolerate rot at our government's core by elevating someone linked to those atrocities to now lead the U.S. intelligence agency," Daphne Eviatar, director of security with human rights at Amnesty International USA, said in a statement on Thursday. "This confirmation suggests we have learned nothing from a decade of shameful policies that stripped away human dignity and freedom and undermined the international rule of law."
And as The Intercept's Jeremy Scahill noted as the final votes on Haspel's nomination rolled in on Thursday, the discussion and debate Trump's CIA pick sparked over the last several weeks "was never just about Gina Haspel."
"This is about a nation that claims constantly to be exceptional and morally superior showing the world in clear terms that it supports torture and will never hold its own accountable," Scahill concluded.