Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended President Donald Trump's nominee to be CIA director on Tuesday, saying Gina Haspel's critics should walk a mile in the shoes of anyone working in national defense in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The selection of Haspel, a longtime intelligence officer, drew immediate criticism because of her role in enhanced interrogation of suspected terrorists during the George W. Bush administration. Rice, who was Bush's National Security Adviser on 9/11, told "Fox & Friends" she was offended by critics of Haspel who weren't tasked with security decisions at the time.
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"If you were not in a position of authority on September 11, you have no idea the pressures that we faced to try and make sure that this country wasn't attacked again," she said. "Walk a mile in our shoes and you'll understand some of the things that—"
"So you're almost offended when people are judging her?" host Brian Kilmeade asked.
"I am offended that people who were not there and who didn't have to make the tough decisions now want to second-guess," Rice said. "We're an open society. People can debate. There's nothing wrong with that. But the fine professionals who kept us safe deserve our praise, not our criticism."
If confirmed, Haspel would be the first female CIA director in the agency's history. She would replace Mike Pompeo, who was recently confirmed as the new secretary of state.
Haspel has been praised by intelligence officials who worked in the Obama administration as well. Former CIA Director John Brennan, a fierce critic of Trump, said last month Haspel was the "best person within the CIA to do the job."
Rice's Fox News appearance came on the seventh anniversary of the killing of 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, and she saluted the armed forces for their efforts.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you to the men and the women who protected us for all of those years and especially to those brave people who got him," she said.