Commentary: WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, issued the following statement on President Trump’s decision to fire Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and replace him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and to replace Pompeo with Deputy CIA Director Gina Haspel.
“Chaos at the State Department and public squabbles with the president have eroded our standing abroad, and when it comes to relations with countries like North Korea, relations are on a razor’s edge. However, while I respect Mike Pompeo’s service to our nation, I am not comforted that President Trump says they share a ‘similar thought process.’ I voted against Mr. Pompeo’s nomination to head the CIA because of his defense of torture, spying programs that violated Americans’ privacy, and other tactics that violate the human rights that are central to our Constitution and what the United States of America stands for. He now must face the Senate again and answer tough questions about his fitness for this position, establishing stability in the State Department and rebuilding our reputation abroad through diplomacy, not dangerous threats. I have similar concerns about his proposed replacement at the CIA as well. Deputy Director Haspel will need to answer to the American people about her role in overseeing torture programs that are now banned, and her reported efforts to cover it up. I have long admired leaders, including Senator John McCain, who have spoken out about the ineffectiveness of using torture to interrogate detainees and the damage it does to our standing in the world. The Senate confirmation process must include a frank conversation with Deputy Director Haspel about those issues, among many others.”