WASHINGTON (JTA) — Nearly 250 Jewish clergy have signed a petition opposing President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the CIA, citing her role in the George W. Bush-era torture of prisoners.
“Given (Gina) Haspel’s role in the CIA’s now-defunct torture program, a vote to confirm her is incompatible with any kind of meaningful commitment to the prohibition on torture and so-called ‘enhanced interrogation,’” said the petition to be sent to the Senate, which had garnered 245 signatures by Monday evening, two days before Haspel’s confirmation hearings. “Her oversight of a CIA black site is an extreme moral offense that overrides any other qualifications she might have to serve as the head of the CIA.”
The petition was organized by T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights group with 2,000 affiliated cantors and rabbis across the Jewish religious spectrum.
Haspel, a CIA veteran of 33 years, in 2002 supervised a CIA secret interrogation site in Thailand, where torture methods, including waterboarding, were used. Several years later, she was involved in the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting torture as Congress examined the methods more closely. She was never charged.
Last week, the Washington Post reported that Haspel was considering withdrawing from the nomination process; it’s not yet clear whether she has enough support in the closely divided Senate for confirmation. Trump administration officials talked her out of it.
President Barack Obama ended “enhanced interrogation techniques” on his second day in office. Trump has said he favors them under certain circumstances.
“My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists,” Trump tweeted on Monday. “Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!”
Haspel, currently the deputy CIA director, would replace Mike Pompeo, whom Trump recently named as secretary of state.