The White House Is Already Preparing a Back-Up Plan Over Fear Gina Haspel Won't Be Confirmed

There's no question that the popular vote loser Donald Trump, given any opportunity at all ("regime change" in Iran, maybe?) to go to war will go to war. If that happens, it's also clear that Trump won't be like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, making his war crimes a big secret. No, Trump will be screaming for his military and intelligence forces to use torture. His nomination of Gina Haspel, an architect of both the Bush/Cheney torture regime and the effort to cover it up, at the head of the CIA is all the indication we need.


Haspel herself wanted to withdraw her nomination, possibly because she could be facing some very uncomfortable questions in her hearing Wednesday. The White House panicked, Trump personally intervened, and Haspel is still on board. Perhaps to keep her so, Trump is back to tweeting his support, saying "has come under fire because she was too tough on terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!"

"Win Gina!" Go torture some more. But there's some contingency planning happening in the event her feet get cold again, or rewarding war crimes proves to be just too much for even Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

National security officials say they still believe she can survive a Senate confirmation hearing—but some say there [are] contingency plans if she doesn't.

"The reason you're seeing contingency planning isn't a lack of confidence in Gina, but because they're seeing the Democrats band together ... they're worried they're not going to have the votes," said one former national security source familiar with conversations on Capitol Hill.

Many believe Haspel's confirmation will depend on Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia along with GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky. Paul switched at the last minute this month and voted for Mike Pompeo to become Secretary of State, but it's unclear whether he will do the same for Haspel. Collins, Manchin and Warner haven't formally said how they'd vote on Haspel.

One of those contingencies is Susan Gordon, the deputy director of national intelligence, who is also reportedly a good friend of Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), chair of the Intelligence Committee. Gordon might have a better skill set for 2018, with experience "developing advanced leadership and operational skills in cyber operations and science and technology." At the moment, however, Haspel is back in the mix, having meetings and, as CNN unironically reports, "'murder board' sessions scheduled down to the wire."

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