The former ambassadors in the letter to the Senate argue that although “We have no reason to question Ms. Haspel’s credentials as both a leader and an experienced intelligence professional,” they say “she is also emblematic of choices made by certain American officials in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001 that dispensed with our ideals and international commitments to the ultimate detriment of our national security.”
“We have little doubt what lesson governments that rely on torture and other forms of mistreatment to maintain their grip on power will draw from Ms. Haspel’s confirmation,” the former ambassadors wrote in the letter.
They said that even if Haspel rejects torture at her confirmation hearings “the point will remain that her record of involvement in torture was judged worthy of and compatible with holding the CIA’s highest office.”
“The message inherent in this decision will be understood by authoritarian leaders around the world. They will welcome it, as it will allow them to proclaim, however cynically, that their behavior is no different from ours,” the former ambassadors said.
Among the former ambassadors who signed their names to the letter are Thomas Pickering, the former ambassador to the United Nations, as well as Russia, where he served from 1993 to 1996; Ruth Davis, former director general of the Foreign Service; Thomas Hubbard, former ambassador to South Korea from 2001 to 2004; and Samantha Power, former U.S. permanent representative to the U.N. during the Obama administration.
More than 100 retired generals and admirals have also said in a letter that they were “deeply troubled” that somebody connected to torture would be picked to lead the CIA.
NBC News has reported that Haspel is expected to say publicly Wednesday what she already has told senators privately: That is if she has anything to say about it, the CIA will never again engage in brutal interrogations.
But she will not be able to discuss her specific role, because those details — including her status as base chief in Thailand — remain classified. U.S. officials have said separately that Haspel played no hands-on role in any interrogations.