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President Trump has ousted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and said he will replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Trump announced the news on Twitter this morning. He also said CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel will be tapped to succeed Pompeo at the CIA. Both would need to be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, Gina Haspel will become the first woman to head the CIA.
Gina Haspel was directly involved in the CIA's torture program under the George W. Bush administration. She was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were waterboarded and tortured. We air President Trump's remarks and highlights from Democracy Now! coverage on Pompeo and Haspel.
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now! I'm Amy Goodman, with this breaking news: President Trump has fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and says he'll replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo. Trump announced the news on Twitter this morning. He also said CIA's Deputy Director Gina Haspel will be tapped to succeed Pompeo at the CIA. Both would need to be confirmed by the Senate.
The move comes months after Tillerson reportedly called Trump an "f--ing moron" during a meeting of national security officials. Trump responded to the report by challenging Tillerson to an IQ test.
If confirmed, Gina Haspel will become the first woman to head the CIA. Gina Haspel was directly involved in the CIA's torture program under George W. Bush. She was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were waterboarded and tortured.
Last year, I spoke with investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill of The Intercept about Gina Haspel's record.
JEREMY SCAHILL: She was one of the people that ran a CIA black site where prisoners were mercilessly tortured, waterboarded, etc. And she, we understand, was the agent who led the destruction of the CIA torture tapes at the direction of the main torture ringleader, Jose Rodriguez, at the Central Intelligence Agency. That is the person who now is going to be the number two at Donald Trump's CIA. And Susan Rice, Obama's ambassador to the U.N., and all these other Democrats are up in arms because a Republican was bragging about her being, you know, the first woman to be named to such a high position, and that, in fact, Obama had also named a woman to a high position in the CIA. The objection is not the black site, not the torture, not the destruction of tapes, but that there was gender equality somehow under Obama, and now Trump has picked this woman. I mean, that's the state where we're at now in our discussion about these policies. The fact is that Trump's administration: Islamophobes, billionaires, bigots and torture lovers.
AMY GOODMAN: That's Jeremy Scahill. The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald tweeted today, "Haspel, who will be the first woman to [lead] CIA, didn't just oversee the Bush CIA's black site but directly participated in the horrific torture of detainees. She also participated in the particularly gruesome torture of detainee Abu Zubaydah. This isn't a radical departure for CIA. After all, Haspel did this under George Tenet. At the time, John Brennan -- who became Obama's CIA director -- was an advocate of rendition and other torture methods. And Pompeo was fine with black sites. Still notable: she's an actual torturer." Those the words of Glenn Greenwald in a tweet today after Trump made his announcement.
Democracy Now! spoke to Jeremy Scahill about Mike Pompeo in November of 2016, soon after the election of President Trump.
JEREMY SCAHILL: What I think we're going to see with someone like Mike Pompeo, if he ends up being the CIA director, first of all, just on a side note that relates to the work we do at The Intercept, Pompeo basically has said that he thinks Edward Snowden should be killed and that he is a treasonous traitor and that he supports domestic surveillance operations, including against American citizens. He has a very strong anti-civil liberties background. And that's why he's getting praise from people like General Michael Hayden and others. Democrats also are speaking positively about him. He's another adult in the room, Juan, like we were talking about Mike Pence.
AMY GOODMAN: In December, I spoke to Marcy Wheeler of EmptyWheel about reports that Trump would replace Tillerson with Pompeo.
MARCY WHEELER: And there's no reason to believe Pompeo would do a better job. One of -- a couple of the things that Pompeo has been accused of at CIA is bringing religion into public events at the CIA. Cotton would probably continue those at CIA. But Pompeo would do the same, presumably, at State. He has de-emphasized diversity -- really important at both CIA and State Department. We would assume that he would continue to do that there. So, it's -- you know, there's no reason at all to believe that Mike Pompeo would start rebuilding the State Department in a way that we would need to happen. As I said, I think this is really about policy and really about especially Iran.