Gina Haspel Faces Tough Confirmation to Head C.I.A.

The Takeaway

Here’s what you’ll find on today’s show:

— President Trump’s pick to serve as the director of the Central Intelligence Agency Gina Haspel faces a challenging confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee today. Haspel has worked at the C.I.A. for 33 years, almost all of those years entirely undercover. Opponents of Haspel’s nomination are concerned about her role in the C.I.A.’s use of controversial interrogation techniques of terrorism suspects that are widely considered to be torture. It has been reported that back in 2002, Haspel oversaw a secret C.I.A. prison in Thailand where waterboarding was used against detainees and that she later played a role in destroying videotapes of the interrogations at the facility. Colleagues and supporters of Haspel say her career at the agency extends far beyond the period that she spent overseeing the blacksite in Thailand that was code-named “Cat’s Eye.”

— In 2013, in order to be in the top one percent of income earners in the United States, you had to make at least $695,766. To be in the top one percent in terms of household net worth, you had to be worth at least $7,869,549. Wealth inequality isn’t a new phenomenon, but the rapid expansion of this disparity is certainly unprecedented since the Gilded Age. In 2016, populist candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders gained unusual attention, with one even rocketing to the White House, due in no small part to their diatribes against the elite, an amorphous entity that is generally thought of as the über wealthy but was invoked to deride politicians, the media, bankers, and artists. As Americans become increasingly embittered by the figures they perceive to sneer at them and earn more than them, it is important to clarify who is actually pulling the strings in American society and how to re-enfranchise the people whose clout has diminished in Washington.

— Perhaps no group watched the president’s decision on the Iran deal yesterday more closely than the families of Iranian-Americans currently being detained by the Iranian government. There are currently five Iranian Americans being held in the country, with others being held over the years. President Trump briefly mentioned the issue in his speech yesterday, saying the following: “Over the years, Iran and its proxies have bombed American Embassies and military installations, murdered hundreds of American service members, and kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured American citizens.” 

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