In Push for 2020 Election Security- Top Official Was Warned: Don’t Tell Trump – The New York Times

“WASHINGTON — In the months before Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign, she tried to focus the White House on one of her highest priorities as homeland security secretary: preparing for new and different Russian forms of interference in the 2020 election.

President Trump’s chief of staff told her not to bring it up in front of the president.

Ms. Nielsen left the Department of Homeland Security early this month after a tumultuous 16-month tenure and tensions with the White House. Officials said she had become increasingly concerned about Russia’s continued activity in the United States during and after the 2018 midterm elections — ranging from its search for new techniques to divide Americans using social media, to experiments by hackers, to rerouting internet traffic and infiltrating power grids.

But in a meeting this year, Mick Mulvaney, the White House chief of staff, made it clear that Mr. Trump still equated any public discussion of malign Russian election activity with questions about the legitimacy of his victory. According to one senior administration official, Mr. Mulvaney said it “wasn’t a great subject and should be kept below his level.”

Even though the Department of Homeland Security has primary responsibility for civilian cyberdefense, Ms. Nielsen eventually gave up on her effort to organize a White House meeting of cabinet secretaries to coordinate a strategy to protect next year’s elections.

Opinion | Why Gina Haspel Is the Best Choice for C.I.A. Director – by John Sipher – NYT

“Ms. Haspel’s role in the post-Sept. 11 counterterrorism fight was both messy and complex. It included terrible mistakes and great successes. The expectation by some politicians and newspaper editors for her to simply label the C.I.A.’s efforts as an immoral failure is unreasonable and unfair.

As an executive responsible for a large work force, she has to find a way to make clear that she will exhibit impeccable judgment and speak truth to power without implying that her hard-working colleagues are moral degenerates. She cannot begin her tenure by smearing her employees.

But she did send a clear signal about clarity at the C.I.A. under her leadership: “I would never, ever take C.I.A. back to an interrogation program,” Ms. Haspel said, and added that she would not “put C.I.A. officers at risk by asking them to undertake risky, controversial activity again.”

Ms. Haspel’s biggest hurdle going forward is unlikely to be satisfying her congressional overseers or even tackling terrorist threats. Instead, it will be serving a president for whom truth is only what serves his personal purposes. Mr. Trump has recklessly attacked nonpartisan public servants and our justice system. It is just a matter of time before he feels threatened by his intelligence agencies.

In this sense, while it feels unfair to use Ms. Haspel’s nomination to re-litigate the past, it is indeed fair to press her on how she would deal with difficult ethical decisions as head of the C.I.A.”

via Opinion | Why Gina Haspel Is the Best Choice for C.I.A. Director – The New York Times

David Lindsay:

Excellent piece by John Sipher. I accept his thinking on why Gina Haspel’s refusal to denounce the recent past torture of terroist suspects should be acceptable, as long as she communicates, as she has, that it went too far, and the US should not go there again. I am against torture, and I would like to follow John McCain  and the NYT and be a purist on this one issue, but Sipher’s logical arguments hold.

Also, one pundit reported this last week, that Haspel was a middle manager, following the orders of her superiors, at time of fear and crisis. She was told that the Justice Department had determined that what she was ordered to do was legal. The work of those lawyers, working for President George W Bush and Richard Cheney, the VP, will be a stain on the honor or the US, forever, which thanks to over population, climate change and the Sixth Extinction, might not be that far off. Did anyone at the hearings ask her about these, the really great threats, that could destroy our way of life?

Gina Haspel apparently has the organizational skills and experience, to do this new job for her, of running the CIA. I will try to make time to watch her hearing on youtube.