Doug Jones Sides with Democratic Majority in Opposition to Haspel

May 16, 2018

Alabama Sen. Doug Jones (D.) announced Tuesday that he would join his Democratic colleagues in opposing the confirmation of Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Central Intelligence Agency.

Jones decision came on the same day Senators Mark Warner (D., Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.), and Bill Nelson (D., Fla.) announced their support for Haspel, support expected to ensure her confirmation.

In a statement, the Alabama senator said he was "troubled" by the post-9/11 role Haspel played in overseeing a "black site" in Thailand, where waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques were utilized to extract information from suspected terrorists.

"While her career has been impressive, Ms. Haspel’s role in programs that conducted torture is very troubling; her refusal to acknowledge the immorality of such conduct even today with the benefit of hindsight is even more so and reflects poorly on our nation’s reputation as a moral leader in the world," Jones said. "I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support her confirmation as the Director of the CIA."

The senator stated he was not swayed by the commitment Haspel made during her confirmation hearing last week, in which she pledged not to restart any enhanced interrogation program if she took the helm of the CIA. The senator added that while he did not "doubt" Haspel's "skills and expertise," he wanted to hold the new CIA director "to the highest possible standard."

"I appreciate the commitment of Ms. Haspel and her colleagues to the service and defense of our nation, and I do not doubt the skills and expertise she has gained during her long career in the CIA," Jones said. "However, the leader of the CIA, an organization tasked with operating clandestinely to keep Americans safe, must be held to the highest possible standard."

Jones echoed the concerns of his California colleague Sen. Kamala Harris (D.) in his decision to oppose Haspel. Harris, one of the most liberal senators in office, made headlines during Haspel's initial hearing for asking the nominee if she believed the CIA "had ever acted immorally" when interrogating suspected terrorists.

The decision puts Jones at odds with Sen. Richard Shelby (R.), Alabama's senior senator, and President Donald Trump, who carried the state by almost 28 points in 2016.

Haspel, a long-standing employee of the CIA, has garnered the support of several high-ranking intelligence officials from the Obama administration, including former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.