Tag Archives: Gina Haspel

Time for Saudi sanctions, Mr. President

OK, Mr. President, you’ve got a problem.

Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement in the brutal assassination of a Saudi-born journalist in Istanbul, Turkey. But wait! Now the CIA has determined that the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

What are you going to do about it, Mr. President?

You see, the United States has some skin in this game. Khashoggi was a journalist employed by the Washington Post. He was a U.S. resident who wrote columns for the newspaper and, indeed, his final essay called for greater tolerance of political dissent in Saudi Arabia. The crown prince, the de facto ruler of the kingdom, took umbrage at Khashoggi’s view.

So he had him killed. Maybe he even ordered the reported dismembering of Khashoggi, torturing him while he was still alive, screaming for his life.

How in the world do we let this pass, Mr. President?

I wish I could presume you’ll accept the CIA assessment. I mean, you had to be dragged kicking and screaming to endorse the intelligence community’s assessment that Russia attacked our electoral system in 2016.

But the CIA now is being run by one of your appointees. Gina Haspel is a career spook. She is a first-rate spymaster. Her agency also is among the best intelligence outfits in the world. But you know that already. Right?

You need to set aside that top-dollar arms deal the Saudis want done. Those high-performance jet fighters the Saudis ordered ought to be put back in the hangar.

The Saudis are bad actors at many levels. Sure, they’re our “allies” in the effort to corral the Islamic Republic of Iran. They are brutal, though, in their handling of political dissent, as Jamal Khashoggi’s hideous fate would attest.

The CIA says the crown prince is involved. You, sir, need to act.

Sadler leaves White House … without a needed rebuke

Kelly Sadler has left her job at the White House. No one out here in Flyover Country had ever heard of her, until she popped off about Sen. John McCain in a closed-door meeting.

Bad call, Ms. Sadler.

Sen. McCain had called waterboarding “torture” and urged his Senate colleagues to reject the nomination of Gina Haspel to lead the CIA; he cited Haspel’s role in an “intensive interrogation” program. McCain knows torture, as he endured more than five years of it as a Vietnam War prisoner.

Sadler’s response? She “joked” that McCain’s criticism “doesn’t matter; he’s dying anyway.” What a knee-slapper.

She’s now gone. Donald J. Trump ordered a White House communications office revamping. Sadler is a casualty, having been shown the door.

McCain, of course, is battling a grievous illness. Sadler’s comment was totally, unequivocally out of bounds. It was tasteless and crass in the extreme.

I’m glad she’s gone. However, the president has not yet issued a public rebuke of the comment. He hasn’t yet said a word about how sorry he that a distinguished American politician was ridiculed by someone on his staff. The president has yet to say a word on McCain’s behalf or a word wishing him well as he battles brain cancer.

Oh, no. The housecleaning is aimed at plugging the leaks that made Sadler’s hideous “joke” public.

I am left, therefore, to conclude that Trump really is as heartless as other critics have concluded. A man with a heart would have told Sen. McCain he is sorry for the remark and then he would have fired — on the spot — the person who blurted it out.

C’mon, Ms. Sadler, just say you’re sorry

Kelly Sadler works in a White House where the Big Man — the president — never apologizes for anything.

She need not follow Donald John Trump’s lead. All she has to do to make an idiotic story dissipate is to apologize publicly to the man she disparaged so cruelly.

The man is Republican U.S. Sen. John McCain. He is fighting a grievous illness, brain cancer. Sadler, a mid-level White House communications office staffer, was attending a private meeting when she blurted out an insult directed toward Sen. McCain.

McCain had spoken against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel. He doesn’t like her stance on torturing enemy combatants. He has urged his Senate colleagues to reject her nomination to lead the CIA.

Sadler said McCain’s objection “doesn’t matter because he’s dying anyway.”

The story won’t go away. It should go away. All the staffer has to do is to stand before the nation and say she is sorry for her disparaging remarks aimed at a genuine war hero. You see, Sen. McCain’s opposition to torture comes the hard way: He experienced more than five years of it while being held captive during the Vietnam War.

Sadler’s demeaning remark has no place coming out of the mouth of a White House official who, I hasten to add, works for the public. That’s you and me, dear reader.

The president is entitled to withhold any apology if he chooses. My hope is that he hasn’t instructed Kelly Sadler to follow him down the path of arrogance.

My fear, though, is that he has done precisely that very thing.

Shameful.

‘A little bit of a victim’? Give it up, man!

Matt Schlapp needs to be slapped bald-headed.

The conservative activist has taken up some form of defense for the White House communications aide who said that Sen. John McCain’s criticism of CIA nominee Gina Haspel “doesn’t matter, because he’s dying anyway.”

The aide’s name is Kelly Sadler. Schlapp has defended her saying she’s a “little bit of a victim.”

No she’s not! She’s a thoughtless mid-level clown who popped off in private with what has been described as a “bad joke.”

McCain doesn’t like Haspel’s view of torturing enemy combatants. He urged the Senate reject her confirmation. Yes, he’s battling a life-threatening disease. However, he is of sound mind and is entitled to speak his mind about an important policy matter. And there is no one in the U.S. Senate who is more qualified to speak about torture than McCain, a former Vietnam War prisoner who endured years of torture at the hands of his captors.

Sadler popped off thoughtlessly.

Schlapp said this, according to The Hill: “Kelly is my friend. I feel bad she is going through this. She immediately called to apologize. She’s also a little bit of a victim here,” Schlapp told CNN “New Day” co-anchor Chris Cuomo.

The story has gotten national attention. It has serious legs and is threatening to keep on running until Sadler owns up publicly to her idiotic comment.

Spare us the indignation, too, over the leaking of the comment to the media. Big deal. All of those in the room are answerable to the public in the first place and millions of us out here way beyond the Beltway are damn angry that a White House functionary would be so cruel — even in “private.”

Senate should confirm Gina Haspel as CIA boss

Gina Haspel has spent her career as an undercover agent for the Central Intelligence Agency. She’s no politician or bureaucrat or think-tank wonk.

She’s a career spook. Haspel also should become the next head of the CIA, despite the criticism she has gotten from some quarters about her role in torturing enemy combatants since the onset of the war against terrorism.

I am troubled as well by her declining to declare torture to be immoral. U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called that refusal a “disqualifier.” I happen to disagree with the brave senator/war hero who knows a lot about torture.

Haspel did tell the Senate committee conducting her confirmation hearing that she wouldn’t “restart such a detention and interrogation program” on her watch. That program includes waterboarding and other forms of “intensive interrogation techniques.”

I am willing to take Haspel at her word, even though the president of the United States said more than once while campaigning for the office that waterboarding “doesn’t go far enough.”

Donald Trump has sought to place the CIA  in the hands of a career intelligence officer. She knows her business. I have to maintain faith that she is alert to the fact that the nation — and the world — are watching her every move as she takes command of the nation’s top spy agency.

So, I will maintain that faith as Gina Haspel takes command of an agency that plays arguably the most vital role in our ongoing worldwide fight against those who seek to do us harm.

That is some defense of a ‘bad joke’

I guess you can stop referring to a White House aide’s tasteless and crass remark about a stricken war hero and U.S. senator as a “reported” or “alleged” utterance.

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney has confirmed that Kelly Sadler made the hideous statement about Sen. John McCain in a “private meeting” at the White House.

What did Sadler say? Well, Sen. McCain came out against CIA nominee Gina Haspel because of her role in torturing enemy combatants. McCain knows about torture, as he was subjected to years of it at then hands of his captors during the Vietnam War.

Sadler said McCain’s opposition to Haspel “doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.” Man, that’s a knee-slapper, ain’t it? No. It isn’t.

McCain is battling an aggressive form of brain cancer. He is fighting for his life. For a minor-leaguer such as Sadler to say such a thing — even in telling a bad joke — is hideous in the extreme. These kinds of statements do have a way of slipping through the cracks and into the public domain.

Budget director Mulvaney is trying to excuse his colleague? Nice try, Mick. It won’t work.

What’s just as bad, though, is that the president of the United States, Donald Trump, has been silent on this matter.

Sickening.

The Hill reported: “You have to have freedom to speak in a private meeting. We have all said things in private … that we would never say publicly. I think she handled it appropriately,” Mulvaney said.

No, sir. She works for the public. As do you … and the president. Public figures should be smarter and more sensitive than what Kelly Sadler has demonstrated.

She said that about a war hero?

Here is another of the “best people” Donald J. Trump said he would hire to work with him in the White House.

Her name is Kelly Sadler, a special assistant in the White House communications office. Sadler reportedly said the following in a closed-door meeting about criticism leveled against CIA director nominee Gina Haspel by U.S. Sen. John McCain:

“It doesn’t matter, he’s dying anyway.”

Words escape me. I’ll try: disgraceful, detestable, reprehensible.

I cannot even begin to fathom how someone at any level could think — let alone say … allegedly — something so crass.

McCain criticized Haspel because she wouldn’t during her Senate confirmation hearing condemn torture as an “immoral” act. McCain, you see, knows torture when he sees it. He experienced it as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.

Sen. McCain also is fighting a dangerous, life-threatening disease. The nation is hoping for his recovery.

Kelly Sadler’s comments — allegedly — are disgraceful in the extreme. Ah, but she’s one of the “best people.”