Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris pretended to be a legitimate presidential contender in 2020. Unfortunately for Sen. Harris, she looked more like a scold than a serious policymaker. While questioning Gina Haspel during Haspel’s confirmation to become the next CIA Director, Sen. Harris initially asked “One question I’ve not heard you answer is, do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?” When “Haspel began with a response about the tactics’ legality,” Sen. Harris interrupted, saying “I’m not asking do you believe they were legal, I’m asking do you believe they were immoral.”
Rather than backing down or throwing her fellow agents under the bus, Haspel stood her ground. Before she did that, unfortunately, Haspel had to endure an ill-informed lecture from Harris. Sen. Harris lectured Haspel about how the person they’ll vote for or against will inform our allies “about our values.” Sen. Harris also talked about “what we prioritize as our moral authority.”
Frankly, if that’s what’s important to Sen. Harris, then she’s disqualified to ever being commander-in-chief. Period. Long before Sen. Harris became California’s Attorney General, Gina Haspel was a successful CIA interrogator who prevented multiple terrorist attacks by gaining important information from terrorists. In the days following 9/11, when most Americans were certain that there’d be more terrorist attacks, President Bush made the right decision that preventing future attacks no matter what it took was his highest priority.
The vast majority of people agree with that decision. Moral preening doesn’t have a place in that conversation. Leadership mattered. Making the right decisions on the fly was required. President Bush provided both at a time of crisis. Sen. Harris hasn’t provided either quality:
The good news is that neither Sen. Harris or Sen. McCain will prevent Gina Haspel from becoming the first female DCI. She will be confirmed, though by a fairly tight margin.
That’s unfortunate because, in terms of qualifications, she’s the most qualified candidate in decades and it isn’t all that close. Gina Haspel will become one of the best DCIs. She won’t exceed Mike Pompeo but she’ll surpass John Brennan. Then again, a worn-out trench coat would be more qualified than John Brennan.