The ACLU on Friday filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking internal CIA records on the spy agency's push to get Gina Haspel confirmed as its new director, the latest sign of the left ramping up its bid to defeat Haspel’s nomination.
Haspel's confirmation prospects remain murky amid bipartisan concerns in the Senate about her involvement in the use of brutal interrogation tactics against detained terrorist suspects during the George W. Bush administration. With that in mind, the ACLU's request for documents specifically asks the agency to clarify whether Haspel — who now serves as acting CIA director after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's confirmation — has the power to decide on requests to declassify material related to her own background.
The group's letter to the spy agency alleges a CIA "campaign to influence the legislative branch’s consideration of" Haspel, whose past experience as an agency veteran has included numerous undercover postings.
The CIA sought to introduce her in a more public fashion after President Donald Trump tapped her as its next leader in March, posting a biographical sketch with personal touches such as her college basketball fandom. But the agency's decision to withhold documents about her role in the use of torture during the Bush administration has only emboldened critics on the left.
The ACLU's public information inquiry, which asks the CIA to rule on a request for speedy processing within 10 days, also seeks any communications the agency may have conducted with journalists about Haspel as well as with the White House, which is stepping up its pitch for her confirmation ahead of a Senate hearing scheduled for Wednesday.
The White House held a call with reporters earlier this week and sent out multiple talking points to promote Haspel, touting her "decades of service" as well as her "expertise and understanding" of issues facing the CIA.