Gina Haspel was confirmed Thursday as the first female CIA director in a 54-to-45 vote. The Post reports:
Lawmakers approved Haspel’s nomination 54 to 45, with six Democrats voting yes and two Republicans voting no, after the agency launched an unprecedented public relations campaign to bolster Haspel’s chances. She appears to have been helped, too, by some last-minute arm-twisting by former CIA directors John Brennan and Leon Panetta, who contacted at least five of the six Democrats to endorse her bid to join President Trump’s Cabinet, according to people with knowledge of the interactions.
Brennan and Panetta went out on a limb for her, as did the agency that, in a break with tradition, heavily lobbied on her behalf. The intelligence community is looking for someone to defend its reputation, to ground the president (to the extent humanly possible) in reality and to combat Russia’s multi-pronged assault on Western democracies. Former CIA director Michael Hayden, who also supported Haspel, said recently on CBS’s “Face the Nation“: “Some days are good days, some days are bad days. But the core here, even in this co-existence, is the president’s view towards truth and reality. . . .We’ve had presidents who disagree with us; we’ve had presidents who lie. We’ve not had presidents for whom objective reality doesn’t seem to be compelling.”
Hayden continued: “Case in point: the Muslim ban. Remember, about a week out of the gate for the new administration, because why? Because we had an apocalyptic threat from Syrian refugees and an absolutely dystopian vetting system? No reality whatsoever. By the way, you don’t see the intel community — even the ones currently in government — arguing for that. It was made based upon something else. Not an argument over objective reality.”
What will this require of Haspel?
She cannot, as her predecessor did on occasion, provide rhetorical cover for the president to lie, exaggerate or mislead the American people — be it about North Korea, Russia or Iran. CIA directors are limited in what they can say publicly, but in her case she owes Congress and the public a degree of transparency we have not always seen from CIA. She has pledged to stand up to the president when