Politics & Policy

Rand Paul Will Oppose New Secretary of State and CIA Director Nominees

Senator Rand Paul and other members of the House Freedom Caucus hold a news conference on Capitol Hill, March 7, 2017. (Eric Thayer/Reuters)

Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) says he will oppose President Trump’s new nominees for secretary of state and CIA director.

Trump tapped current CIA director Mike Pompeo for secretary of state after firing Rex Tillerson on Tuesday. Gina Haspel will fill Pompeo’s shoes in Langley if she is confirmed.

But Paul, who’s taken libertarian stands on national-security issues in the past, objected to Haspel’s involvement with and support for enhanced interrogation techniques, or “torture,” as he put it. He has threatened to filibuster both nominations.

Haspel oversaw a CIA “black-ops” site in Thailand from 2003 to 2005 where dozens of suspected terrorists were tortured. In 2005, she destroyed tapes showing terrorist interrogations at the site for which she was present.

“I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” Paul said, accusing Haspel of “gleeful enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured.”

The former presidential candidate said he opposes Pompeo’s support for military involvement in Iran.

“I’m perplexed by the nomination of people who love the Iraq War so much that they would advocate for a war with Iran next,” Paul said, referring to Pompeo. “It goes against most of the things President Trump campaigned on, that the unintended consequences of regime change in Iraq led to instability in the Middle East.”

“I’m going to do everything I can to block them,” he added of the two nominees.

Paul serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, where the GOP has only a one-seat majority. If Democrats join him in opposition, they could obstruct Pompeo’s nomination.