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She apparently actively participated in torture.
Lauren Johnson Wrote:She apparently actively participated in torture.

Just Trump's kind of woman!....and CIA director!
Peter Lemkin Wrote:
Lauren Johnson Wrote:She apparently actively participated in torture.

Just Trump's kind of woman!....and CIA director!

I see a "double date" with she and Stormy in his future. Oh dear! ::dictator::
Lauren Johnson Wrote:
Peter Lemkin Wrote:
Lauren Johnson Wrote:She apparently actively participated in torture.

Just Trump's kind of woman!....and CIA director!

I see a "double date" with she and Stormy in his future. Oh dear! ::dictator::

All I see is the future is looking stormy. And we are doubly fucked.


[Image: image1-19-700x470.jpg]CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel (inset). Photo credit: Mark Taylor / Flickr (CC BY 2.0) and The OSS Society / YouTube
The firing of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and President Donald Trump's decision to replace him with current CIA Director Mike Pompeo, was the big news in Washington on Tuesday. But what is even more stunning is that the president has nominated Deputy Director Gina Haspel to become the next CIA director.
Haspel is not a household name but she certainly should be. Among some within the CIA, she was known as "Bloody Gina" for her role in the agency's torture program.
Last year, WhoWhatWhy's Jeff Schechtman interviewed John Kiriakou, the whistleblower who first exposed the agency's complicity in torture and served 23 months in federal prison for it.
In this podcast, Kiriakou describes the "merciless" torture of Abu Zubaydah at a secret CIA prison run by Haspel. He also notes that nobody was ever held to account for this dark chapter in US history.
Now, instead of being punished for her role in the torture program, which included destroying evidence of its existence, Haspel is about to be rewarded with the CIA's top job unless the Senate stops her confirmation.
Check out our podcast with Kiriakou below and keep in mind that "Bloody Gina" was deeply involved in every aspect of the torture of Abu Zubaydah and others.

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Full Text Transcript:
As a service to our readers, we provide transcripts with our podcasts. We try to ensure that these transcripts do not include errors. However, due to time constraints, we are not always able to proofread them as closely as we would like. Should you spot any errors, we'd be grateful if you would notify us.
[B]Jeff Schechtman: Welcome to Radio WhoWhatWhy. I'm Jeff Schechtman.[/B]
I think it's safe to say that every institution of government today is in chaos. Departments are understaffed, the State Department is hollowed out, cabinet secretaries are either apologizing for themselves or the president, or they're travelling the world trying to reassure allies and adversaries. But few government institutions are in the kind of direct conflict, almost open hostility with the administration as the intelligence community and the CIA. From his botched initial visit to Langley to 6 AM tweets, not since Kennedy have we had a president in open warfare with the intelligence community.
Here to talk about all of this and a lot more, I'm joined by my guest John Kiriakou. John Kiriakou was a 15-year CIA veteran. He rose through the ranks to the very highest levels of the agency. He became the first in the intelligence community to expose the CIA's use of torture and, as a result, he became one of the very few Americans ever prosecuted under the Espionage Act. He was considered a whistleblower and served 23 months in federal prison. He's the author of three books; his latest out later this year is Doing Time Like a Spy. It is my pleasure to welcome John Kiriakou to the program. John, thanks so much for joining us.
[B]John Kiriakou: Thank you so much for having me. The pleasure is all mine.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Tell our listeners a little bit about your history, your background and in doing that, talk a little bit about the way the CIA changed and evolved during your 15 years there.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Sure. I spent the first half of my career as an analyst at the CIA working on the Middle East, specifically on Iraq. I did that for about seven and a half years and then I made a very unusual switch to counterterrorism operations. I spoke Arabic and I spoke Greek and wanted to serve overseas, so I changed to counterterrorism in 1997. I finally felt like I knew what I was doing around the time that 9/11 took place and went to Pakistan as the Chief of Counterterrorism Operations for the CIA there. The big change in those years though, and it's something that I naively believed would be temporary, was a transition that we saw beginning on 9/11; away from a traditional spy agency where CIA officers recruit spies to steal secrets to what really has become a paramilitary agency and even a cyber-military agency. The CIA is nothing like what it was when I joined in early 1990 and I fear that it's changed forever.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: How did those changes come about? Was it like the frog in the boiling water? Talk a little bit about that.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: It was. It was indeed like the frog in the boiling water. On September 11, I was working in the CIA's counterterrorism center and the counterterrorism center had a certain budget, right. Let's just say the budget was X. Three days later, Congress voted an appropriation, a special appropriation to augment the counterterrorism center's budget. That was an addition of 160% of the CTC budget. So all of a sudden, there was more money in counterterrorism than anybody could possibly spend. Well, the CIA by it's very nature pushes the boundaries of what it's allowed to do and it just keeps pushing until the Congressional Oversight Committees tell it to stop. Well, now flush with cash, that's exactly what they did and nobody told them to stop. Congress had passed the Patriot Act, there were covert action programs taking place and all anybody had to say was 9/11 and the CIA got what it wanted. So here we are now, 16 years later, almost 16 years after September 11 and still nobody has said "Stop!" to the CIA. That's how we've found ourselves in this predicament.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the CIA was very involved in the actions in Afghanistan that was in and of itself a kind of paramilitary operation. Talk about the training that went into that and obviously that kind of activity and the planning for it begun even before 9/11.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Well see, that's really the issue, at least from those early days. There was almost no training. On September 11, like everybody else in the building, I volunteered to go to Afghanistan, to do what, I didn't even really think it through. I figured my Arabic was fluent, I could at the very least serve as a translator, maybe work to recruit some sources inside al Qaeda and I was denied. I was denied a second time and a third time. Finally, I ran into a colleague in the hall whom I hadn't seen in several months since the 9/11 attacks and I said "Hey Billy, where you been?" He kind of whispers and says: "I've been in Afghanistan." And I said: "What are you doing in Afghanistan?" and he looked at me like I was crazy and he said "I've been killing people. What do you think I've been doing?" And I thought, well that's why they haven't sent me to Afghanistan. They don't need translators, they don't need recruiters, they're just killing people. I realized then, this was in October of 2001, I realized then that the entire mission was changing. If the original mission was to destroy al Qaeda, we certainly succeeded in doing that by the middle to the end of 2002 but the mission became muddled and that was really on the White House. The mission became something akin to nation building and then all of a sudden, we realized that we have a problem with the Taliban or we had a problem with Hekmatyar or we didn't like somebody else in the area and here we are now, as I said, 16 years later and we're still in Afghanistan.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: One of the interesting things about that is that whether it was from a public relations perspective or whether or not it was actual fact, the perception of what the CIA accomplished in Afghanistan was very positive and yet if one looks at the history of CIA operations, there certainly is not a great record of success.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: There really is not a great record of success. You can go all the way back to the creation, the foundation of the CIA in 1947, with the passage of the National Security Act and look at covert action programs that have been declassified since 1947. I'm hard pressed to find a success.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Talk a little bit about it in the context of really the original mission of the CIA, which was really pretty much analytical and intelligence gathering.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: That's right. I say this all the time. It's actually quite simple what the CIA is supposed to do. The CIA is supposed to recruit spies, to steal secrets, and then analyze those secrets to pass the analysis to policymakers so they can make the best informed policy. And now that's actually very little of what the CIA does. Now there are these paramilitary units that are parachuting or helicoptering into remote locations to kill people or to kidnap people. We know just recently from WikiLeaks that there's now this huge cyber espionage directorate or division, whatever it is that's targeting the iPhone and the Android phone and the Samsung Smart TV and even the computers in our cars. That's not the CIA that I joined and I don't think that's the CIA that Congress had in mind when it created the organization.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: How much was this, and all of this activity, the creation of the CIA itself and how much was molded by whatever administration was in power?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Well, I think that the CIA really wasn't necessarily molded administration to administration, except for a couple of exceptions. The CIA went a lot over the top during the Johnson Administration, let's say. But in more modern times, I have to be careful how I say this because I don't want to point too many fingers and get myself in trouble again. I'll say it this way. In my lifetime, in my career, the CIA was really not a political or politicized organization. I had no idea the political affiliation or inclinations of the people sitting next to me or the people I worked for. Politics never came up; it was never discussed. I remember one time in 1996, a woman in my office got in trouble because she had a Bob Dole bumper sticker on her desk. She was ordered to remove it. Politics just never played a role in day to day life at the CIA until September 11, and then it became very political and very politicized. It was actually worse under the Obama Administration than it was under the George W. Bush Administration. I think that's really the genesis of this fight that we're now seeing between the CIA and the Trump White House.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: How did it become more politicized, specifically during the Obama years?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Obama was very good at cultivating people inside the CIA. One of the things that's funny to me is the CIA prides itself on its ability to "recruit" new presidents. What they do is, especially when a president has little or no national security background or experience like Barack Obama. They start briefing him as soon as he's elected president and I can tell you as soon as that new president sees his first blue border report or black border report, something that's so highly classified it has to have a blank cover page, it's classified as several levels above top secret, that's heavy stuff. Then they do the briefing and they say, Mr. President Elect, we want to tell you about all the cool things we're doing around the world. Well, once they've let that President in on all the secrets, they've recruited him and he's one of the guys. He's a part of the club. They did that with Barack Obama but Obama was smart too and Obama began sending people to the CIA that he knew were political loyalists. John Brennon was one. John Brennon was supposed to be the first CIA director under Obama but Progressives objected. Don't forget that John Brennon was number three at the CIA under George W. Bush and was up to his neck in the torture program, even though he denied it later. There was nothing progressive about John Brennon. So, Obama knew he could wait out the liberals and that's exactly what he did. As soon as he won reelection, he named John Brennon CIA director and nobody objected by then. At the same time, Brennon brought his own people in and they too were Obama loyalists, they had owed their careers to Obama. The next thing you know, you have this politicized leadership at the CIA when the CIA is supposed to be nonpartisan, apolitical. Frankly, I don't think we saw that kind of politicization of the agency since the Reagan Administration, when Casey brought in businessmen, Wall Street friends of his to be the deputy director for operations.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: To what extent is the CIA shaped by and each administration differently shaped by the impact of the president and the director that he appoints?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: It normally shouldn't be, but it is now. The president will appoint a director and a deputy director. The deputy director is almost always either a career officer or a military officer. Again, especially since September 11, there are these military programs and military and paramilitary offices. So, it's probably wise to have somebody with military experience to advise you and it's my experience that it's the military guys, it's the generals who are the least likely to use military force because they know how terrible war can be. But that's changed. Now you have presidents like Obama appointing the director, the deputy director and then appointing the divisional deputy directors: the deputy director for operations, for intelligence, which is analysis, for science and technology, and it becomes more political at a lower level. That is going to eventually trickle down and the end result, unfortunately, is the politicization of analysis, which is a very bad thing. Let me add one more thing about the politicization of intelligence. One of the golden rules at the CIA, when I was an analyst, was that you could never ever make a policy recommendation. We were not a policy making organization, we were an intelligence gathering and analysis organization and so your job was to give the president the news, put it into context so he could make a policy decision. George W. Bush changed that and mandated that every article that ran in the president's daily brief had to also have a policy recommendation paragraph. That was a very dangerous development and it insinuated the CIA into the policymaking process, which should have been the domain of just the White House and the State Department.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Did those recommendations continue during the Obama years?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: They did in the beginning, through Obama's first term and it's my understanding that they've finally gone by the wayside but in the meantime, you have all these Obama loyalists that are there so the effect I think is the same.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Which brings us to the present situation and what the impact is today.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: One of the things that's been kind of amusing to me about this whole fight between Trump and the CIA is, I think most Americans have consistently underestimated Donald Trump. We think he's a buffoon, we think he's insane, we think he's short tempered and in fact, he probably has had a longer term view and he fooled a lot of us. Well, I think that Donald Trump has underestimated the CIA. The CIA has worked for presidents who didn't like it in the past. Bill Clinton was no fan of the CIA. Jimmy Carter certainly was no fan of the CIA and John Kennedy was legendary. John Kennedy wanted to break up the CIA into a million pieces. It's a shame he didn't have the opportunity to do it. I think Donald Trump thought that he could just snap his fingers and point and people would fall into line. That's just not the way the CIA works. At the working level, most CIA officers, once you get up to a position of let's say GS15 or higher, you get into the senior intelligence service, you've been there for 20, 25, 30 years. You know you can wait out this president. You know this guy's only going to be around for four years or eight years and you've waited out other presidents in the past and I think that's exactly what the CIA is doing now. They know that Trump's not going to be around forever and they will be around forever and they're just going to wait him out.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Some of it though, goes beyond waiting out. Some of it is really pushing back.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: A lot of it is pushing back. There are several things besides just waiting that the CIA can do. The CIA can elect to, for example not carry out covert action programs ordered by the president. They can just say that it's not possible or that it's too dangerous or they just don't have the manpower for it. If the president wants to enact a certain policy, the CIA can essentially just say no, they're not going to that. I've seen that happen in the past. The CIA can also elect to not target the top spy prospects and it can do that to try to embarrass the president. Let's say you need a source inside XYZ terrorist group. Why take the risk? It's just going to make the president look good and so you don't do that. When there's another attack, god forbid, it's on this president's watch and the buck has to stop there.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: You predicted that the CIA was going to have some influence and play some kind of a role behind the scenes in getting rid of Michael Flynn. Talk about that.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: I did. I'm actually impressed that you know that. Michael Flynn was one of the most wildly unpopular people that I've ever encountered in the intelligence community. He didn't like the CIA, the CIA didn't like him, they didn't trust him. He was the director of the defense intelligence agency, which is sort of seen as the poor second cousin of the CIA. There used to be a mean spirited joke that the only people who worked at DIA were people who couldn't make it through the CIA hiring process. There was always this animosity between Flynn and the agency and then all of sudden, with the stroke of a pen after Donald Trump is elected president, Flynn is named national security advisor, which gives him primacy over the CIA. The CIA was not going to allow that to happen and I can't help but to think that so many of these leaks that we're hearing about you know, coordination with the Russians or whatever the leaks are, I can't help but to think that they aren't coming out of the CIA.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: To what extent do you think the CIA was involved in this whole dossier that Clapper presented to the president and all the things surrounding that?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Yeah, that had CIA written all over it. The British officer who compiled the dossier, Christopher Steele, is an MI6 officer. MI6 is the sister organization, the liaison organization of the CIA. It's MI6 that CIA normally deals with, just like FBI deals with MI5 in UK and Scotland Yard. So, no MI6 officer, past or present would initiate such a dossier, such an investigation without the direct input of the CIA. I think that the CIA's fingerprints were all over that whole operation.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Christopher Steele, who you knew, talk a little bit about him, what his involvement might have been.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: I actually worked with Christopher Steele nearly 20 years ago on Greek terrorism after the assassination of the British defense attaché in Athens. I found him to be an absolutely outstanding officer; smart, suave, analytic, accomplished, truly good at his job. Whoever hired him to do this investigation and to compile this dossier knew exactly the kind of person that they needed to carry this out and they knew to go to the best. Well, who would know such a thing, other than the CIA because they had worked with him for many, many years.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: What do you make of these WikiLeaks documents that came out yesterday about the CIA's hacking efforts?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: I spent most of the day going through these documents and although they were written certainly many years after I left the agency, they appear to me to be legitimate CIA documents. I'm worried most about the CIA spying on American citizens. It made me just sick to my stomach to see that the CIA had cracked the iPhone, they had cracked the Google Android, they had cracked the Samsung Smart TV and apparently have even cracked the computers that are in our cars now that should sometime in the near future allow us to have automated driving. I want a robust intelligence service in this country to protect American citizens. I want an intelligence service that we can trust and that we can have confidence in. I don't want to have to worry about my intelligence service spying on me or on other American citizens. That's unconstitutional, it's illegal and it's not something Americans should have to worry about. Unfortunately, because there is literally no congressional oversight of the CIA, that's exactly what we have to worry about. We have to worry about the CIA spying on us.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: What do we know about Mike Pompeo and what we might expect from him?[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Well, I have a very close friend who has briefed Mike Pompeo more than a dozen times and this is before Pompeo became the CIA director and he said to me: "Pompeo's domestic politics aside, this is actually a very bright guy. This is a guy with no real political ties to Donald Trump. It's a guy who's a patriot and who wants to do the right thing with the agency. That made me happy until he named Gina Haspel as the CIA deputy director. I don't like Mike Pompeo's domestic politics but again, his position on abortion for example, has nothing to do with his ability to lead the CIA. I'm perfectly happy to put that aside. It's my understanding that he's an excellent manager and that he's a good leader, but I think that he just doesn't understand, for example, that something like torture is patently illegal in this country and it's not something that we should be pursuing. So I think the jury's still out for the long term.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: Which brings us around to your situation and for our listeners that don't know, talk a little bit about what you went through.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Well, when I returned from Pakistan in 2002, I should add in Pakistan I led a series of raids that resulted in the capture of Abu Zubaydah and many dozens of al Qaeda fighters, I'm not allowed to say the exact number. We believed at the time that Abu Zubaydah was the number 3 in al Qaeda, that turned out to be not true. Although he was a bad guy, he had never actually joined al Qaeda. So I got back to headquarters in the middle of 2002 and was asked by a senior officer in the counterterrorism center if I wanted to be what he called certified in the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. I had never heard that term before and I asked him what he meant and he described to me these ten techniques. I said that sounds like a torture program, I don't think I want to be a part of that. I said give me an hour, let me think about it. In that hour, I went up to the CIA's seventh floor, the executive floor and consulted with a very senior CIA officer for whom I had worked in the Middle East a decade earlier and I said: "What do you think about this?" He said: "First let's call it what it is, it's a torture program. They can use whatever euphemism they want, but this is a torture program. Second, torture is a slippery slope and you know how these guys are, my colleagues. Somebody's going to go overboard and they're going to kill a prisoner and then there's going to be a congressional investigation and then there's going to be justice department investigation and somebody's going to go to prison. Do you want to go to prison?" I said: "No, I don't want to go to prison," and ironically I'm the only one who went to prison, but I said no. I went back downstairs and I told the CTC officer: "This is a torture program and I don't want any part of it." Well, that was in May 2002.[/B]
On August 1, 2002, the CIA began to torture Abu Zubaydah and this torture was merciless. We made a lot about waterboarding and what a terrible torture technique waterboarding is but there were things that were worse than waterboarding in my view; things like sleep deprivation. People begin to lose their minds around day 7 of sleep deprivation and they begin to die at day 9, but the CIA was authorized to keep people awake as long as 12 days. Indeed, there's one Guantanamo defendant who's unable to participate in his own defense because he lost his mind through the use of sleep deprivation. Another technique was called the cold cell, where a prisoner is stripped naked and he's chained to an eyebolt in the ceiling so he can't kneel or sit. He can't get into any comfortable position. The cell is chilled to 50 degrees Fahrenheit and then every hour, someone goes in and throws a bucket of ice water on him. We killed people using that technique, but the torturers were never prosecuted, the people who went overboard and who killed the prisoners were never prosecuted, the CIA officer who destroyed taped evidence of the torture was never prosecuted, the lawyers who used specious legal arguments to justify it, the psychologist who invented it, nobody was ever prosecuted! In fact, we have very specific laws in this country. We have the 1946 Torture Act, which specifically outlawed the techniques that we used against prisoners post 9/11 and the United States is not just a signatory, but was the drafter of the International Convention Against Torture which has primacy over US law. Both of those laws outlawed torture, and I'll add one more thing. In 1946, the US government executed Japanese soldiers who had waterboarded American prisoners of war. That was an executable offense in 1946. In January of 1968, the Washington Post ran a front page photograph of an American soldier waterboarding a North Vietnamese prisoner. That soldier, that American, was prosecuted, he was convicted of torture and he was sentenced to 20 years in a military prison. Well, the law never changed between 1946 and now, so all I conclude is that we changed and we decided that this was the kind of people that we wanted to be, to allow this kind of abomination as part of our policy. I decided in 2007, after keeping my mouth shut for a long time, that I would go public and that's what I did in an interview with ABC News.
[B]Schechtman: Were you the only one? Were there others that felt as you did that didn't come forward or were there others that just went along?
Kiriakou: To tell you the truth, in 2002, I was the only one. 14 of us were asked if we wanted to be trained in these torture techniques and I was the only one who said no. There was this feeling of vengeance, we were still so traumatized by 9/11 that people wanted revenge on al Qaeda. But we know now from the Senate Torture Report primarily that there were people who were objecting internally. A couple of them even curtailed their assignments at the secret prison where Abu Zubaydah was being tortured and they went back to headquarters, which is a career-ending decision, but nobody ever went public, even after the Senate Torture Report was released, nobody went public.[/B]
[B]Schechtman: John Kiriakou, thank you so much for spending time with us here on Radio WhoWhatWhy.[/B]
[B]Kiriakou: Thanks for having me, it was a pleasure.[/B]
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: A bipartisan group of secretaries of state are condemning a proposal to allow armed Secret Service agents at polling stations. The proposal has already been approved by the House as part of the Homeland Security Department reauthorization bill. On Friday, 19 secretaries of state wrote a letter to Senate leaders urging them to drop the proposal, calling it, quote, "unprecedented and shocking." Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat, told The Boston Globe, quote, "This is worthy of a Third World country. I'm not going to tolerate people showing up to our polling places. I would not want to have federal agents showing up in largely Hispanic areas. The potential for mischief here is enormous."
AMY GOODMAN: The League of Women Voters also criticized the proposal. The group's president, Chris Carson, said, quote, "This is just one more attempt this Administration has made to attack voters and flagrantly dismantle core tenants of our democracy," unquote.
On Monday, the Secret Service issued a statement claiming the reports about the bill have been grossly mischaracterized. The agency said, "The only time armed Secret Service personnel would be at a polling place would be to facilitate the visiting of one of our protectees while they voted," unquote.
We go now to Washington, D.C., where we're joined by Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Kristen Clarke, welcome to Democracy Now! Why are you so concerned about this bill, as it now has been approved by the House and will be voted on by the Senate?
KRISTEN CLARKE: Well, this proposal is truly chilling and jarring. The idea of having federal law enforcement agents patrolling, roaming inside polling places, harkens back to tactics that we saw during the Jim Crow era. Law enforcement historically has been used to discourage and depress minority voter turnout. And so, this latest proposal truly harkens back to dark tactics that we have seen used effectively to keep people away from polls in our country.
The Senate has not moved on this latest rider to Homeland Security reauthorizationthe Homeland Security reauthorization bill, but we can't forget that this proposal, in so many respects, mirrors the language that President Trump used on the campaign trail. At a 2016 rally in Pennsylvania, Trump told his supporters that they should go out and watch and look, after they are done voting. He told his rally attendees that we need to call up the sheriffs, and we need to call the police chiefs, to watch and monitor polling sites.
This is truly a threat to democracy. We should be working to make sure our polling sites are neutral ground where all voters can feel safe and free to go out and cast their ballots. Federal law enforcement agents would absolutely depress and discourage minority voter turnout. And so, this is something that we have to fight back on.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But, Kristen Clarke, what do you make of the administration's argument that this is basically just clarifying the ability of the Secret Service to enter polls with protectees, which presumably would be the president or the vice president going to vote?
KRISTEN CLARKE: It doesn't match the language of the rider, which was far broader and more sweeping. The language in the rider said that any officer or any agent of the Secret Service would be allowed to enter polling sites.
This is a moment that requires we remain vigilant. We can't forget that this administration is the same one that launched the so-called election integrity commission, whose sole goal and purpose was to lay the groundwork for voter suppression. So, once again, we have this administration taking truly unprecedented action that would make it harder for people to vote and that would discourage people from coming out to polling sites this midterm election cycle.
AMY GOODMAN: The plan has also been opposed by many Republican secretaries of state, including Jon Husted in Ohio. He said, quote, "The fact that the U.S. Senate would even consider enacting a law that would allow a President to place Secret Service agents in polling places is shocking. The frightening irony is that in creating additional safeguards to prevent Russian meddling in American elections, these Senators would open the door to unprecedented federal intrusion that could lead to an American election system that looks more like Putin's Russia." Kristen Clarke, if you could respond to that, and the significance of this being a bipartisan group of secretaries of state?
KRISTEN CLARKE: That's right. The 19 secretaries of state that have come out against this proposal, it's a bipartisan group that makes clear that there are people on both sides of the aisle that see this as meddling in the way that they would conduct elections in their state. Joe Arpaio in Arizona is somebody who unleashed sheriffs outside polling places in Maricopa County years ago. And again, during the Jim Crow era, we saw this used as a familiar tactic to depress African-American and Latino voter turnout.
And, you know, all of this distracts the public's attention away from real threats to democracy today. I am disheartened by the fact that Congress, the congressional committee, is shutting down its inquiry into Russia's meddling in our election. I am disheartened by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has not brought a single voting rights case on behalf of minority voters during his tenure at the Justice Department. We have deep concerns that this proposal is a thinly veiled attempt to resurrect the now-disbanded election integrity commission. All of these are tactics really aimed at suppressing the vote during the 2018 midterm election cycle. And we need the public to remain vigilant.
At the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, we lead the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection program, Election Protection. It's anchored by an 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. And we encourage the public to speak up if they see local, state or federal law enforcement officers outside the polls. Many states actually have laws that expressly prohibit police officers from being anywhere near polling sites. We know that this stands to be a barrier for voters. Again, our polling sites should be places where people feel that they are able to freely cast their ballots during elections.
When the director of the CIA, an unelected public servant, publicly demonizes a publisher such as WikiLeaks as a "fraud," "coward" and "enemy," it puts all journalists on notice, or should. Pompeo's next talking point, unsupported by fact, that WikiLeaks is a "non-state hostile intelligence service," is a dagger aimed at Americans' constitutional right to receive honest information about their government. This accusation mirrors attempts throughout history by bureaucrats seeking, and failing, to criminalize speech that reveals their own failings…
Words matter, and I assume that Pompeo meant his when he said, "Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He's sitting in an embassy in London. He's not a U.S. citizen." As a legal matter, this statement is simply false. It underscores just how dangerous it is for an unelected official whose agency's work is rooted in lying and misdirection to be the sole arbiter of the truth and the interpreter of the Constitution.
From Julian Assange's Washington Post opinion piece: The CIA Director Is Waging War on Truth-Tellers like WikiLeaks
What's most unique about Mike Pompeo isn't the fact he's a terrible human being, it's the fact he's so transparent and shameless about it. This became crystal clear last April when I read the transcript of a speech he gave at UAE-funded think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
I covered Pompeo's commentary in detail in the piece, The American Empire Under Donald Trump Has Become Increasingly Desperate, Dangerous & Insecure, but let's revisit in case some of you missed it the first time around.
First, he falsely characterized Wikileaks as a hostile non-state intelligence agency (despite lauding it during the election), and then used this false categorization to launch an attack on the First Amendment.
So we face a crucial question: What can we do about this? What can and should CIA, the United States, and our allies do about the unprecedented challenge posed by these hostile non-state intelligence agencies?
While there is no quick fixno foolproof curethere are steps that we can take to undercut the danger. First, it is high time we called out those who grant a platform to these leakers and so-called transparency activists. We know the danger that Assange and his not-so-merry band of brothers pose to democracies around the world. Ignorance or misplaced idealism is no longer an acceptable excuse for lionizing these demons.
Third, we have to recognize that we can no longer allow Assange and his colleagues the latitude to use free speech values against us.To give them the space to crush us with misappropriated secrets is a perversion of what our great Constitution stands for. It ends now…
Julian Assange and his kind are not the slightest bit interested in improving civil liberties or enhancing personal freedom. They have pretended that America's First Amendment freedoms shield them from justice. They may have believed that, but they are wrong.
Pompeo went even further in the Q&A stating:
A little less Constitutional law and a lot more of a philosophical understanding. Julian Assange has no First Amendment privileges. He is not a U.S. citizen. What I was speaking to is an understanding that these are not reporters doing good work to try to keep the American Government on us. These are actively recruiting agents to steal American secrets with the sole intent of destroying the American way of life.
That is fundamentally different than a First Amendment activity as I understand them. This is what I was getting to. We have had administrations before that have been too squeamish about going after these people, after some concept of this right to publish.
Glenn Greenwald responded to this assertion with the following:
Pompeo's remarks deserve far greater scrutiny than this. To begin with, the notion that WikiLeaks has no free press rights because Assange is a foreigner is both wrong and dangerous. When I worked at the Guardian, my editors were all non-Americans. Would it therefore have been constitutionally permissible for the U.S. Government to shut down that paper and imprison its editors on the ground that they enjoy no constitutional protections? Obviously not. Moreover, what rational person would possibly be comfortable with having this determination who is and is not a "real journalist" made by the CIA?
Meanwhile, Pompeo spent a lot of his speech demonizing Julian Assange as someone who cozies up to dictators, saying stuff like the following.
We know this because Assange and his ilk make common cause with dictators today. Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy; in reality, however, they champion nothing but their own celebrity. Their currency is clickbait; their moral compass, nonexistent. Their mission: personal self-aggrandizement through the destruction of Western values.
It's takes some nerve for Pompeo to say that considering the following, via Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept:
So how could Mike Pompeo fresh off embracing and honoring Saudi tyrants, standing in a building funded by the world's most repressive regimes, headed by an agency that for decades supported despots and death squads possibly maintain a straight face as he accuses others of "making common cause with dictators"? How does this oozing, glaring, obvious act of projection not immediately trigger fits of scornful laughter from U.S. journalists and policy makers?
The reason is because this is a central and long-standing propaganda tactic of the U.S. Government, aided by a media that largely ignores it. They predicate their foreign policy and projection of power on hugging, supporting and propping up the world's worst tyrants, all while heralding themselves as defenders of freedom and democracy and castigating their enemies as the real supporters of dictators.
Try to find mainstream media accounts in the U.S. of Pompeo's trip to Riyadh and bestowing a top CIA honor on a Saudi despot. It's easy to find accounts of this episode in international outlets, but very difficult to find ones from CNN or the Washington Post. Or try to find instances where mainstream media figures point out what should be the unbearable irony of listening to the same U.S. Government officials accuse others of supporting dictators while nobody does more to prop up tyrants than themselves.
This is the dictatorship-embracing reality of the U.S. Government that remains largely hidden from its population. That's why Donald Trump's CIA Director of all people can stand in a dictator-funded think tank in the middle of Washington, having just recovered from his jet lag in flying to pay homage to Saudi tyrants, and vilify WikiLeaks and "its ilk" of "making common cause with dictators" all without the U.S. media taking note of the intense inanity of it.
If that's not enough for you, on a separate occasion Pompeo called Edward Snowden a traitor who should be brought back to the U.S. and executed.

That's your new Secretary of State, America.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. Much worse. For all his flaws, Rex Tillerson had a surprisingly sane take on the Middle East, at least relatively. He was known for being against the idiotic Saudi-UAE attempt blockade of Qatar, as well as in favor of keeping the Iran deal active. Pompeo shares no such sentiments.
As CNBC reported:
Pompeo, named as his pick for secretary of state by Trump on Tuesday shortly after he announced Tillerson's departure on Twitter, has taken a notoriously tough stance on Iran in the past in his erstwhile role as director of the CIA.
Not only has Pompeo likened Iran to the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, calling the country a "thuggish police state" in a speech in October, he has also promised to constrain Iran's investment environment and "roll back" its 2015 nuclear deal.
"Thuggish police state." Similar to Saudi Arabia then, which Pompeo had no problem bestowing with a CIA medal last year.
View image on Twitter[Image: C9j_2T7XgAA5sTV?format=jpg&name=small]

[Image: 2AyBiX8E_normal.jpg]Julian Assange [Image: 231b.png]@JulianAssange

CIA Director Pompeo awards CIA medal to Saudi Arabia's torturer-in-chief Mohamad bin Nayef. Saudi is CIA's primary Syria overthrow partner.
2:02 PM - Apr 16, 2017
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But there's more…
In November 2016, when Pompeo was appointed to lead the CIA, he warned that Tehran is "intent of destroying America" and called the nuclear deal "disastrous." He added that he was looking forward to "rolling back" the agreement.
Differences of opinion over how Iran should be treated are said to be the source of discord between Trump and Tillerson, whose firing followed a clash over the nuclear deal, the president said Tuesday.
"If you look at the Iran deal I think it's terrible and I guess he thought it was OK … We weren't really thinking the same," Trump said in a statement outside the White House. He said he and Tillerson got on "quite well" but had "different mindsets."
Iran has been increasingly marginalized during the Trump administration, which has sided with Saudi Arabia in the regional battle for influence in the Middle East.'
Here's the bottom line. As I outlined multiple times last year, Trump is determined to have a war with Iran and Rex Tillerson was standing in the way. Putting unhinged war hawk Pompeo in place as Secretary of State is simply Trump getting his ducks in a row ahead of confrontation. Watch as the sales pitch for another war in the Middle East picks up considerably in the months ahead.
I believe this forthcoming war against Iran will have almost no international support. Probably just autocratic regimes in the Middle East like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as Israel and possibly the UK depending on who's Prime Minister when it gets going. The rest of the world will be against it, which will lead to spectacular failure.
It's become increasingly clear that a huge military error, such as a new major confrontation in the Middle East is what will spell the end of the U.S. empire. Such a confrontation is now increasingly likely with Tillerson out of the picture
Oh, and the person Trump picked to head the CIA to replace Pompeo is Gina Haspel, a 33-year CIA careerist who ran a torture black site in Thailand.
[URL=""][Image: 66_cUYfj_normal.jpg]Edward Snowden

The new CIA director was a key part of the torture program and its illegal cover-up. Her name was on the Top Secret order demanding the destruction of tapes to prevent them being seen by Congress. Incredible. … …
5:59 AM - Mar 13, 2018
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New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, Had Leading Role in Torture

Ms. Haspel was deeply involved in the torture of detainees and later took part in destroying videotapes of the interrogations.


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[URL=""][Image: 66_cUYfj_normal.jpg]Edward Snowden

Are these really the values the US should be promoting? The CIA might as well start issuing uniforms decorated with skulls and lightning bolts. …
6:46 AM - Mar 13, 2018
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Donny boy sure has a strange way of "draining the swamp."

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Pompeo is anti-Muslim and believes there is a religious war between Christianity and all Muslims - he even said once that he thought "'we' should show them that Jesus Christ our savior is the ruler of the World and destroy all those who don't believe him to be". Expect lots of death and war in the Middle East. Expect war with Iran within weeks of his coming into office, if he does; expect any rapprochement with N. Korea to end in war instead. The man is mad [insane] - hates Muslims, all non-Evangelical Christians, non-whites....he's a Trump-type crypto-fascist. He would IMO be like a Cheney/Rumsfeld in sheep's [State Dept.] clothing. Way to go USA - the view from Europe is very dismal - many here wondering if there will be a World in which to vote for saner folk or Volk than what we now have..... oh and he's pro-torture too...and can't say enough bad things about Pompeo. Next to him, Tillerson was a nice guy [and Tillerson was not]....its all relative now and the trend is down to the seventh level of Dante's Inferno.
Peter Lemkin Wrote:Pompeo is anti-Muslim and believes there is a religious war between Christianity and all Muslims - he even said once that he thought "'we' should show them that Jesus Christ our savior is the ruler of the World and destroy all those who don't believe him to be". Expect lots of death and war in the Middle East. Expect war with Iran within weeks of his coming into office, if he does; expect any rapprochement with N. Korea to end in war instead. The man is mad [insane] - hates Muslims, all non-Evangelical Christians, non-whites....he's a Trump-type crypto-fascist. He would IMO be like a Cheney/Rumsfeld in sheep's [State Dept.] clothing. Way to go USA - the view from Europe is very dismal - many here wondering if there will be a World in which to vote for saner folk or Volk than what we now have.....

Pat Lang agrees and sees a looming war with Russia.

Quote:[FONT=&amp]This is a very young Mike Pompeo when he was a first year cadet at West Point in 1983. He concentrated his study there in Mechanical Engineering and graduated first in his class. By the time he graduated the war in VN was long over. He served just enough time to repay his service debt to the army, then resigned his commission to go to law school. So, he never served in combat. War is an abstraction to him. In other words, this is probably a game for Pompeo, a power game played on a global map board.

[FONT=&amp]DJT in announcing Pompeo's nomination to the WH lawn press corps stressed that he and Pompeo had "great chemistry" and that they share the same view of the world. In other words, Pompeo never disagrees with Trump. Pompeo is well known for his hard line anti-Iranian views and his unshakable sympathy for Israel. DJT professes the same views.

[FONT=&amp]At the UN Nikki Haley has now specifically threatened Syria and Russia with attack if the Syrian government does not halt its offensive in East Gouta and the Yarmouk camp. Both are near Damascus. These two places are mainly defended by jihadis, the largest group of which is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS, the Al-Qa'ida branch in Syria. You remember Al Qa'ida. They were the people who attacked us on 9/11. Her threat is for retaliation for use of chemical weapons (chlorine)or just plain old "inhuman suffering" inflicted on the "Syrian People." This does not seem an idle threat given the number of times she has repeated it. Someone is telling her to say this. She works for State and it probably is not Tillerson telling her to do this so my guess would be David Satterfield, the Assistant secretary of State for the Near East. He is someone who now runs with the wolves. That is how he got the job.

[FONT=&amp]At the same time Russia has made it clear that they will fight to protect their ally and interests in Syria. They have been quite plain spoken about that and they included both US aircraft and ships in the threat. I note that the Admiral Essen, a Russian missile shooting frigate sortied from Sebastopol today.

[FONT=&amp]I think that Pompeo's nomination and his eventual confirmation brings the world closer to a US-Russia war. If that happens it will be difficult if not impossible to keep the war from escalating toward the use of nuclear weapons. Israel wants war, a wrecking war with Iran. Israel wants the US to win that war for Israel. IMO Israel would be wrecked in such a war whatever the outcome. This is an August, 1914 moment. pl[/FONT]
LEE FANG: Hi, Amy. Yes, that's right. I think this nomination to elevate Pompeo as secretary of state signals a much more aggressive posture from Donald Trump. You know, Donald Trump campaigned for office by portraying himself as a skeptic of foreign intervention, but Pompeo represents a very different view. Pompeo has supported foreign intervention, from Yemen to Syria. In the last year, he has spoken out and described the leadership of Iran and North Korea as an existential threat to the United States, suggesting that he supports regime change.
And, you know, Pompeo represents just a very different temperament from Rex Tillerson. Rex Tillerson has been willing to provide an even-handed assessment of very complex foreign policy issues. When there was a UAE-Saudi Arabia attempt to blockade Qatar, Rex Tillerson was willing to push back on that. On issues such as military support to Egypt and human rights abuses, he's been willing to speak out. And Rex Tillerson has been willing to speak out and push back against some of the worst impulses of Donald Trump. On the other hand, Pompeo has been a very loyal kind of sycophant to Donald Trump, pandering to his worst instincts and promoting foreign intervention.
And most critically here, I thinkyou know, we took a look at Pompeo's different statements to think tanks, to churches around the country, when he served as a member of Congress. And Pompeo has described the war on terror as a battle between religions. He has depicted the fights in the Middle East and the war on terror as a conflict between Christianity and Islam, and saying that Christians need to mobilize against this Muslim threat. So he really kind of has taken extreme viewpoints. If he wants to serve as the chief diplomat for the United States, this is deeply problematic.
AMY GOODMAN: Lee, I want to go to a video clip that you've written about. This is Mike Pompeo addressing a church group in Wichita in 2014.
REP. MIKE POMPEO: This threat to America is from people who deeply believe that Islam is the way and the light and the only answer. And so, as we think about what U.S. policy needs to be, how we will begin to combat this, we need to recognize that these folks believe that it is religiously driven for them to wipe Christians from the face of the Earth. They may be wrong. There's some debate about that, what the Qu'ran actually says. They may be wholly misguided. And I will tell you it is absolutely a minority within the Muslim faith. But these folks are serious, and they abhor Christians and will continue to press against us, until we make sure that we pray and stand and fight and make sure that we know that Jesus Christ as our savior is truly the only solution for our world.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Mike Pompeo when he was a congressman from Kansas in 2014. Lee Fang?
LEE FANG: Yeah, that's right. You know, I've covered Mike Pompeo for some eight years now. I reported on Pompeo's first election to Congress, in 2010, when he was running for a seat in the Wichita area. And, you know, there's a disturbing pattern that I think we should talk a little bit about.
Pompeo, from his very first campaign, has had a history of racially tinged comments, of antagonizing the Muslim community. You know, his first Democratic opponent, Raj Goyle, an Indian American, his campaign sent out a statement describing Raj Goyle as a, quote-unquote, "turban topper." The campaign later apologized for that statement, but then put up billboards all around the Kansas seat reminding voters to, quote, "Vote American."
Once he got into office, Pompeo has had a long history of, again, antagonizing Muslim Americans. He called for a protest and encouraged harassment of a local mosque in Kansas, falsely accusing them of supporting terrorism. After the Boston bombing, Pompeo went out and made a statement demanding that the Muslim community condemn and apologize for that attack, even though, well before he made that statement, all the leading Muslim civil rights groups had already condemned this attack. So, you know, this is ridiculous for many reasons, not only because of that, but because he's never demanded something similar from Christian groups after Christian terror attacks, you know, for incidents like the Charleston shooting. Dylann Roof was a proud Christian. You don't see Pompeo demanding an apology or condemnation from the Christian community. He's been very selective in his demands.
I believe he's been on anti-Muslim activist Frank Gaffney's radio show 20 times. He has a very close relationship with that individual. And ACT for America, this is one of the most influential and aggressive anti-Muslim organizations in the country. They've organized protests and harassment campaigns against Muslims all over the country. ACT for America, this anti-Muslim hate group, actually awarded Pompeo their highest award, recognizing his long history of antagonizing the Muslim community.
AMY GOODMAN: And, Lee Fang, his connection to the Koch brothers?
LEE FANG: Right, and I think this is very important for understanding Pompeo's character. Pompeo has deep ties to the Koch brothers. The Wichita seat that he represented in Kansas was the headquarters of Koch Industries. Early in his career, he received an investment from the Koch brothers, when he started an aerospace company. The Koch brothers really handpicked him to run for that open seat in 2010. His only political experience was appearing at tea party events organized by the Koch brothers' political machine, and they were his largest contributor.
Why is this important? Well, once he got to Congress, Pompeo was a loyal foot soldier for the Koch brothers' political agenda. He constantly attacked pollution regulations, climate change regulations, and advanced attacks on renewable energy. So, you know, other than tax cuts, this is a top legislative priority for the Koch brothers. And I think that that speaks to Pompeo's character, that he's really been beholden to his political supporters.
And again, just looking at his relationship with Trump, he was a big Trump supporter during the presidential campaign. He's been incredibly loyal, unwilling to really question Trump's agenda. And so, if he's secretary of state, he will be very different from Rex Tillerson, who was at leastwho at least attempted to be even-handed in some complicated disputes. Pompeo, I think, is much more likely to be a loyal foot soldier.
AMY GOODMAN: John Kiriakou, you had a different feeling about Mike Pompeo, who President Trump just tweeted, when he informed Rex Tillerson he was fired, that Mike Pompeo would be replacing him as secretary of state.
JOHN KIRIAKOU: Not necessarily different. I think all of that is true. And I'll tell you, where I think he's most dangerous is on Iran, because Mike Pompeo has made it very, very clear that he intends to take a tough stand on Iran. He opposes the Iran nuclear deal, consequences be damned. And, you know, President Trump likes to surround himself with yes men on issues like that, like Iran and terrorism. Mike Pompeo is a yes man.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to go back to Lee Fang for one minute on a different issue, and that is this special election that we're about to see the results of. It looks like in this district there may be a complete upset, a district, the 18th District in Pennsylvania, that Trump won by like 20 percent. The Republican candidate, who has yet to concede defeat, though he's down hundreds of votes, but the final vote is not in"Rick Saccone," you write, "the GOP nominee in Pennsylvania's 18th congressional district, is a former intelligence support consultant for the U.S. Army at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison." Can you expand on that, Lee Fang?
LEE FANG: That's right. Rick Saccone, you know, he describes himself as "Trump before Trump was Trump." You know, this is someone who's been very bombastic, you know, attacked immigrants. He has a very right-wing agenda. But he has a very interesting history, as well. You know, previously, before he served in the Pennsylvania state Legislature, he was a consultant for interrogations in Iraq, actually serving in Abu Ghraib. And he wrote an entire book defending torture. So this is a very unusual candidate, in certain respects.
But this is a huge election in terms of being a bellwether for the midterm elections. Saccone had a lot of money, a lot of super PAC support, I think over $10 million spent on his behalf, really every advantage in this district. This was a very pro-Republican district. And it looks like Conor Lamb pulled it out. So, this is, I think, a signal that Democrats will do very well in the elections this year.