Rex Tillerson’s tenure as Secretary of State is over and it almost feels like an act of mercy to put an old, sick pet down. That’s all he ever really was for Trump, just a guy to oversee the dismantling of the State Department and to be his whipping boy to undermine and publicly humiliate when he felt the need.
President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, orchestrating a major change to his national security team amid delicate negotiations with North Korea, White House officials said Tuesday.
Trump last Friday asked Tillerson to step aside, and the embattled top diplomat cut short his trip to Africa on Monday to return to Washington.
Pompeo will replace him at the State Department, and Gina Haspel — the deputy director at the CIA — will succeed him at the CIA, becoming the first woman to run the spy agency, if confirmed.
The truth is that Tillerson never should have been put in that position in the first place. Like so many other Trump appointees, he had zero experience or understanding of the job he was placed in. I suspect the only thing that kept him from being even worse was that some former Secretaries of State, like Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell, reached out to him and tried to help him become a more conventional secretary than he otherwise would have been. But if he showed even the most mild independence from Trump, he was excoriated and publicly hung out to dry, so it was obvious this was coming many months ago. It was just a matter of time, but Trump was merciful enough to let him stay a full year so that he didn’t have to immediately pay taxes on the $200+ million in Exxon/Mobil stock options he had to sell to take the job (and therein lies the real reason he got the job, I remain convinced — because he had close ties to Putin through the exclusive supply contracts that company had with Putin’s oil company).What Pompeo has done at the CIA remains a bit of a mystery, so we have no idea what he might do as Secretary of State. He has at least showed enough spine to publicly contradict Trump many times in stating unequivocally that it was Russia who hacked and interfered with our election last year. Somehow that has not caused him to lose favor with Trump. He at least hasn’t been the disaster I thought he would be, though. And at least it’s not Elliot Abrams or John Bolton.
As for Gina Haspel, the only term she should be serving is a prison term, not a cabinet appointment. She ran the black site prison in Thailand where many detainees were tortured in incredibly brutal ways, a clear violation of both federal law and the UN Convention Against Torture, which obligates us to prosecute anyone involved in ordering or carrying out torture. And here’s a fascinating exchange of views:
Jameel Jaffer, formerly deputy legal director of the ACLU, said Tuesday on his Twitter feed that Haspel is “quite literally a war criminal.”
But Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, signaled his support for Haspel. “I know Gina personally, and she has the right skill set, experience and judgment to lead one of our nation’s most critical agencies,” he said. “I’m proud of her work and know that my committee will continue its positive relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency under her leadership. I look forward to supporting her nomination, ensuring its consideration without delay.”
Jaffer is right, she is a war criminal. And nothing Burr said even engages that, much less denies it. That he knows her and thinks she’s wonderful does not make her not a war criminal. There simply is no way to deny that fact without lying. She should be in prison, along with Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Tenet and dozens (at least) of others, every single person who either signed off on or helped carry out torture.