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Rand Paul Stands Against Warmongers And Torturers

Principled liberty-minded Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has announced that he will oppose the nominations Mike Pompeo and Gina Haspel, Trump’s choice for Secretary of State and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Rand Paul"I will oppose both Pompeo's nomination and Haspel's nomination," Paul said on Wednesday.

CNBC’s Spencer Kimball reports The Kentucky senator said he opposes Haspel's nomination due to her involvement in a CIA torture site in Thailand, where captured al Qaeda suspects were held in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Kimball reported that Senator Paul read quotes he attributed to Haspel in which she allegedly mocked a captured al Qaeda suspect as he was being waterboarded.

"My opposition to her is over her direct participation in interrogation and her gleeful enjoyment of someone being tortured," said Paul.

Politico’s Burgess Everett says the Kentucky senator indicated he may be willing to filibuster both Pompeo’s nomination and CIA director nominee Gina Haspel, who he says is “gleeful” in her defense of torture techniques.

Paul's opposition to Haspel's nomination raises the prospect that the White House may struggle to gather the votes needed in the Senate to confirm her as the head of the CIA, says Kimball. If all 49 senators in the Democratic caucus vote against Haspel, Paul and another Republican voting "no" would block her from taking over the agency.

According to Politico, Paul said Haspel’s remarks about her time overseeing a CIA “black-ops” site disqualified her from the job of leading the intelligence agency and seemed bullish on blocking her, citing somewhat skeptical comments from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.): “We’ll see if she has the courage of her convictions to actually vote no.”

Paul said a successful campaign against Haspel “depends on the solidarity of the Democrats.”

“My opposition to her is over her direct participation in interrogation and her gleeful enjoyment at the suffering of someone being tortured,” Paul said according to Burgess Everett’s reporting. “Sen. McCain has voiced some misgivings about the CIA appointment … If he alone were to say no, it might be enough.”

"Any nominee for Director of the CIA must pledge without reservation to uphold this prohibition, which has helped us to regain our position of leadership in the struggle for universal human rights—the struggle upon which this country was founded, and which remains its highest aspiration," McCain said in a statement reported by The Hill’s Jourdain Carney.

No Democrats have formally said they will oppose Haspel, reports Carney, but several have raised concerns about her involvement in the interrogation program.

If Paul votes no, and McCain is absent, leadership will need to win over every other GOP senator and at least one Democrat in order for Pence to cast a tiebreaking vote.

Paul seemed to have no qualms about taking on President Donald Trump, giving a press conference on Wednesday and then launching into a flurry of media hits in opposition to Trump’s attempts to reshuffle his Cabinet after ousting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

“People complain sometimes about the filibuster, they complain about trying to obstruct. I think the debate over whether or not America is a country in favor of torture or not is an important one,” Paul said. “I’m going to do everything I can to block them.”

Paul’s opposition to Pompeo will be more immediately felt because he serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where the GOP enjoys just a one-seat advantage. With Paul opposed, notes Mr. Everett, Pompeo could receive an unfavorable committee verdict if Democrats join him in opposition, which would be a serious black mark on Pompeo's nomination.

“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 according to Politico’s reporting. “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.”

Paul is the first Republican to come out against the two nominations, which were announced by President Trump on Tuesday. Last year, he was the only Republican to vote against Pompeo for CIA director.

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