Trump surrounds himself with criminals and warhawks

Joseph Langan

Mike Pompeo’s confirmation hearing for Secretary of State is set for this Thursday. If confirmed, Pompeo will be the next addition in an increasingly hawkish Trump administration. 

Pompeo left his role as Director of the CIA in the hands of the controversial Gina Haspel. Haspel had an extensive role in torturing detainees and ran a secret prison in Thailand, one of the many facilities the CIA maintains in a network of “black sites.”

These brutal prisons are called black sites because their international legality is dubious and the American people — and even Congress — are kept in the dark about them. What we do know is that a majority of these sites detainees have not been convicted of crimes, are rarely officially charged and that they experience torture. Many horror stories have leaked about detainees who were imprisoned and tortured for years without charge. Some were eventually released without explanation or reparations.

Haspel played a pivotal role in destroying videotaped torture sessions after they were requested by Congress to investigate the CIA’s treatment of detainees. Torture is illegal under U.S. and international law. The right to a fair trial, the right to be assumed innocent until proven guilty and the right to humane treatment are crucial to the values the United States is supposed to hold sacred. How can we have a democracy when government officials refuse to follow the law?

Hidden within candidate Trump’s campaign of ubiquitous misogyny and anti-immigrant fear-mongering, there were a few good ideas, mainly to stop America from committing more war crimes in the Middle East. As president, Trump abandoned these campaign promises for an increasingly militant foreign policy agenda.

John Bolton, Trump’s recent appointment to National Security Advisor, is a Bush-era conservative with a religious fervor for interventionism. Bolton has worked with anti-Islam organizations which the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled “hate groups” and was one of the most vocal cheerleaders for the Iraq War.

It’s worth remembering that the nation of Iraq had no affiliation with the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens and the attack was planned by Al-Qaeda, which had networks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq. The U.S.-led invasion killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, while Iraq posed no military threat to the United States and had not provoked us. Attacking a country without provocation is a war crime and considered illegal according to the United Nations.

However, the Trump administration makes up its own rules; Bolton has even delusionally proclaimed that “there is no United Nations.” As National Security Advisor, Bolton is already pushing for war with Iran and North Korea, and to increase our military presence in the shell-shocked Syria.

These dangerous and asinine foreign policy positions are hurtling us closer to needless nuclear war. If Bolton, Pompeo and Haspel manage to get what they want in the foreign policy arena, countless innocent people could die.

Joseph Langan is a columnist. Contact him at [email protected].