Heinrich, Wyden, Feinstein Renew Call For CIA To Declassify Information About CIA Director Nominee Haspel’s Background

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are asking for the fifth time that CIA Director Mike Pompeo declassify information related to the background of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel, whom the president has indicated he will nominate as director of the CIA.

“Declassifying information about Ms. Haspel’s background is even more pressing in light of the public relations campaign currently being conducted on her behalf. Under the title ‘Get to Know our Deputy Director,’ the CIA issued a press release that included a superficial narrative about Ms. Haspel without providing the public any meaningful information about her 33-year career at the CIA and what it demonstrates about her suitability to serve as director,” the senators wrote in their letter. 

In the absence of any meaningful declassification of Haspel's career, the lawmakers wrote that it is impossible for the Senate to properly fulfill its constitutional obligation to “advise and consent” on her nomination. 

“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. 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. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for the Senate to properly fulfill its constitutional obligation to advise and consent’ on her nomination,”Heinrich, Wyden, and Feinstein wrote.

Their full letter is below and a PDF is available here

The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Director, Central Intelligence Agency
Washington, DC. 20505

Dear Director Pompeo: 

We are writing for a fifth time to request that you declassify information related to the background of CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel, whom the president has indicated he will nominate to succeed you as director of the CIA. 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. 

Declassifying information about Ms. Haspel’s background is even more pressing in light of the public relations campaign currently being conducted on her behalf. Under the title “Get to Know our Deputy Director,” the CIA issued a press release that included a superficial narrative about Ms. Haspel without providing the public any meaningful information about her 33-year career at the CIA and what it demonstrates about her suitability to serve as director. The CIA’s March 22, 2018, public release also included a three-page list of endorsements from CIA and Intelligence Community officials – 14 in all – highlighting Ms. Haspel’s “extraordinary” leadership and her “commitment to the rule of law.” Yet the Agency continues to conceal information that would allow the American people to assess these accolades for themselves. Former CIA officials like former Director Michael Hayden have appeared in the media praising Ms. Haspel, often in ways that appear to allude to reports of her involvement in the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program. Finally, anonymous “current and former intelligence officials” have sought to shape press stories about her reported role in the program.

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. 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. Under these circumstances, it is impossible for the Senate to properly fulfill its constitutional obligation to “advise and consent” on her nomination.

We request again that you, as the original classifying authority, declassify information related to Ms. Haspel's background. We note again that continued classification appears to violate Executive Order 13526, prohibiting the classification of records to “conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error” or “prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency” – prohibitions that you agreed with during your confirmation process.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious request.

Sincerely,