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Top 10 Questions for Avril Haines

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Before Avril Haines can become Director of National Intelligence, Senators must approve. And before that, they must ask questions. Here are some suggestions for what they should ask.

1. What are the most extreme measures that should be considered in extreme situations to protect open democratic government?

2. Would those, excuse me, would, reclaiming my time, would those measures not be more extreme than refusing to confirm for high office someone like yourself who opposes open democratic government, for example by censoring the vast majority of this Senate's report on torture, and overruling the CIA's own Inspector General to refuse to discipline CIA agents who hacked into the computers of the Senate Intelligence Committee to sabotage an investigation of torture, choosing instead to award medals to those criminals?

3. When should and when should not torturers be prosecuted? And when should they be supported, as you supported Gina Haspell to fail upward into the position of CIA director?

4. According to Newsweek, you used to be summoned in the middle of the night to help decide what man, woman, or child (along with anyone too close to them) ought to be blown up with a missile. According to CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou, you regularly approved of proposed drone murders. There are people in this room who have done vastly more harm to some other countries than some of the children you helped kill ever did to anyone. Which countries should have the right to use armed drones around the world and which should not, and why?

5. You co-authored the May 22, 2013, "presidential policy guidance" that claimed to justify illegal killings with missiles. You did away with the presumption of innocence, the indictment, the trial, the conviction, and the sentencing. You abolished the United Nations Charter, the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.S. Constitution, the War Powers Resolution, and the various national laws around the globe on murder. This whitewashing of human incineration helped largely replace the policies of incarceration and torture with that of murder. Could you please give us 30 seconds of disgusting platitudes on the topic of your respect for the rule of law?

6. A report by the CIA found its own drone program "counterproductive." Admiral Dennis Blair, the former Director of National Intelligence said that while "drone attacks did help reduce the Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, they also increased hatred of America." According to General Stanley McChrystal: "For every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies ." Lt. Col. John W. Nicholson Jr., commander of the war on Afghanistan, blurted out his opposition to what he'd been doing on his last day of doing it. Gen. James E. Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "We're seeing that blowback. If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted." In the view of Sherard Cowper-Coles, Former U.K. Special Representative To Afghanistan, "For every dead Pashtun warrior, there will be 10 pledged to revenge." We've seen a drone war on Yemen held up as the ultimate success, before it predictably devolved into the worst humanitarian disaster in years. How does the drone murder policy that you've been a part of hold up on its own terms?

7. Which is better, torture or murder?

8. Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo brags about having lied, stolen, and cheated. "We had whole courses on that," he says. Former President Harry Truman said he'd wanted to create the Central Intelligence Agency for the same reason that George W. Bush said he'd wanted to create the director of national intelligence, in order to have a single agency reconcile conflicting information from various other agencies. "I never had any thought that when I set up the CIA that it would be injected into peacetime cloak and dagger operations," wrote Truman, who wanted the CIA restricted to so-called "intelligence." We've now had 75 years of government overthrows, election interference, arming of terrorists, kidnapping, murder, torture, lies to justify wars, bribery of foreign officials, cyber-attacks, and other sorts of "peacetime cloak and dagger," plus open warfare waged by this unaccountable agency and its fellow secretive agencies, including through the use of drones. With vast sums of unaccounted-for money, much of it generated by off-the-books proprietary companies and illegal activities like drug smuggling, the CIA and its sister agencies spread corruption around the world. This corruption undermines the U.S. government and the rule of law. CIA attacks on foreign governments and peoples backfire against the United States time and time again. The CIA even illegally keeps secret and exploits weaknesses in U.S. companies' technologies, hiding flaws from Apple, Google, and all of their customers. The NSA unconstitutionally spies on all of us. How does the net result of keeping these lawless agencies around do us more good than it would to hire some smart historians, scholars, diplomats, and advocates for peace?

9. You've supported vicious sanctions against the people of North Korea and the overthrow of their government. Which populations in the world should be punished with sanctions? What good has that practice ever done? And which nations should have the right to overthrow the governments of other nations, and why?

10. You have worked as a consultant at WestExec Advisors, a company that helps war profiteers get contracts, and serves as a revolving door for unscrupulous individuals who get rich from private money for what they do and whom they get to know in their public jobs. Is war profiteering acceptable? How would you perform your job differently in government if you anticipated being hired by a peace organization afterward?

Add more questions for Avril Haines as comments on this page.
Read Top 10 Questions for Neera Tanden.
Read Top 10 Questions for Antony Blinken.

Further reading:
Medea Benjamin: No, Joe, Don't Roll Out the Red Carpet for Torture Enablers
Medea Benjamin and Marcy Winograd: Why Senators Must Reject Avril Haines for Intelligence
David Swanson: Drone Murder Has Been Normalized

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at and and works for the online (more...)
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