So as I was skimming through Twitter Saturday night looking for stories that might have been missed in the non-stop barrage of stupidity and corruption that is the Trump administration, I was stopped short by this tweet by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders:
So apparently, for Sanders, having no moral core and being able to violate the Geneva Conventions is now a standard-bearer for female empowerment. Who knew?
This is not the first time that Sarah's feminist sensibilities have taken odd turns. Apparently still feeling sensitive about last week's WHCA Dinner, Ashley Parker and Phillip Bump of The Washington Post wrote a glowing little paean to the smokey-eyed one, including this little tidbit:
Although combative with reporters on camera, Sanders is largely regarded as more pleasant and helpful behind the scenes. She works to provide reporters answers to their questions, including hunting down colleagues for help.
Sanders often mentions her three small children during her briefings, reminding the millions of viewers tuning in on television that she is a mother. She sometimes makes hokey jokes to leaven the mood in the briefing room and is known to wish some reporters a happy birthday from the lectern.
“Sarah has always been coolheaded and professional and always gives our arguments for greater transparency and openness a respectful hearing,” said Olivier Knox, the chief Washington correspondent for SiriusXM, who will assume the presidency of the White House Correspondents’ Association this summer.
Sorry, folks, but having children doesn't absolve you for lying for the administration, no matter how professionally you do it. Invoking them is not a shield against the lack of transparency that apparently the incoming WHCA president is too protective to see.
But back to Haspel. The absolute absurdity of framing any objection to Haspel as trying to keep a good woman down is just another way the right continually works the refs.
Objecting to Haspel has everything to do with humanity and common decency:
Ms. Haspel played a direct role in the C.I.A.’s global kidnap, detention and torture operation known as “extraordinary rendition.” Under the program, which was adopted after the 9/11 attacks, suspected militants who were captured in Afghanistan were sent to other countries, which held them in secret detention and allowed C.I.A. personnel to torture them. The first secret prison was in Thailand, where, as an undercover officer in 2002, Ms. Haspel oversaw the torture of two terrorism suspects and later helped carry out an order to destroy videotapes that documented the interrogations.
In one case, a suspect was tortured so brutally that it was hard to tell he was still alive. Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in one month and repeatedly slammed into walls, and those weren’t the only harsh methods his interrogators used. Eventually, they concluded he knew nothing useful to tell them.
That's not a good candidate to run the CIA, no matter the gender. That's a goddamned war criminal.
Despite Mr. Trump’s boast, the choice of Ms. Haspel for promotion is no victory for women. My feminism does not demand that a woman have an equal opportunity to torture, alongside men. Torture is no less wrong because a woman, not a man, carries it out. I do not celebrate the appointment of women to high positions in regimes where cruelty is a favored tool of governance by a patriarchy; if they accept, they are nothing short of foot soldiers of that patriarchy and the violence it has instituted.
My feminism, instead, works to dismantle patriarchy and its violence — whether it is sanctioned by the state, as torture is, or practiced at home, in the form of intimate partner or domestic violence.
I do not subscribe to a feminism that demands perfection or super heroic nobility of women. But I do insist that putting women at the service of patriarchy is no victory for us.
So please, no more feminist arguments in favor of war criminals.
UPDATE: Per The Washington Post, Haspel tried to withdraw her nomination after taking some pretty bad hits in her face-to-face meetings with senators. The White House--having significant difficulty keeping positions filled--urged her to stay strong.