Intelligence Committee Democrats Renew Calls to Declassify Parts of Haspel’s Record

WASHINGTON (CQ-Roll Call/TNS) -
Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., right, with Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., on Capitol Hill in Washington, June 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Three Democratic members of the Senate Intelligence Committee are signaling they have seen problematic classified information about CIA director nominee Gina Haspel’s career at the agency.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California, Martin Heinrich of New Mexico and Ron Wyden of Oregon made the assertion in a letter sent Friday to CIA Director Mike Pompeo that was circulated publicly on Monday.

The senators were critical of the CIA’s public information efforts in support of Haspel, whom President Donald Trump nominated in March.

“In the absence of any meaningful declassification of her career, this public campaign on behalf of Ms. Haspel does a great disservice to the American people, who expect and deserve to understand the backgrounds of their government’s leaders,” the senators wrote. “Indeed, the more we review the classified facts, the more disturbed we are, both by the actions she has taken during her career and by the CIA’s failure to allow the public the opportunity to consider them.”

The senators’ latest letter was a further attempt to secure the declassification of records that likely relate to Haspel’s connection to the so-called “enhanced interrogation” program during the George W. Bush presidency.

The senators said in the letter that this was the fifth such request in writing of Pompeo, who has been nominated to be secretary of state.

“To date, we have received no responses to letters written by one or more of us, either in connection with Ms. Haspel’s appointment in February 2017 as CIA deputy director or the announcement last month of her nomination to serve as director,” the lawmakers wrote.

Pompeo appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week at a confirmation hearing for his new nomination. The Intelligence Committee has yet to hold an open confirmation hearing for Haspel.

When that hearing does happen, senators will likely find themselves thwarted from getting answers to questions during open session due to classification and concerns about protecting sources and methods.