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Brian Kilmeade Makes Impassioned Case For Torture on Trump’s Favorite Morning Show

As Gina Haspel prepares for her nomination process to be the next CIA Director, one of her most passionate defenders can be found on Fox & Friends every weekday morning: that’s Brian Kilmeade, who has expressed frustration with the opposition Haspel has faced from lawmakers wary of her role in the Iraq War era “enhanced interrogation program” (also known as torture).

Haspel’s nomination has been a controversial one. She oversaw a “black site” in Thailand after the 9/11 attacks where terror suspects were tortured in accordance with the enhanced interrogation program. A Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that the CIA’s methods amounted to torture, and included waterboarding, beating, forced confinement for extended periods of time, forced standing and nudity.

In one interrogation Haspel oversaw, a detainee was stripped naked, hooded and shackled. He was then waterboarded, slammed repeatedly against a wall with a towel around his neck and locked in a tiny “confinement box” for hours.

A number of lawmakers have expressed concerns over Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA, where she now serves as deputy director, given this history. That includes Sen. John McCain — himself a former prisoner of war who was detained and tortured for five years in Vietnam — who called the U.S. torture program “one of the darkest chapters in American history.”

On Monday, Kilmeade expressed his frustrations with the hiccups Haspel is facing in her nomination process, but on Tuesday, a day before her Senate confirmation hearing, those frustrations bloomed into righteous outrage.

“Every living CIA director backs her,” Kilmeade said on Fox & Friends Tuesday, before embarking on an impassioned rant hailing Haspel for her role in the torture of terror suspects at black sites:

Here’s the other thing, Gina Haspel has a decision to make. Is she going to come out and say, ‘Yeah, back then that’s what I did, and I regret it now.’ Or is she going to say, ‘That’s what I did, I’m proud of what I was able to get out of the worst of the worst. I am convinced I played an important role in stopping the next attack. I don’t apologize for the Americans who are alive today and were not burned alive or had their heads cut off. Because I was able to use enhanced interrogation, okayed by the previous Justice Department, in order to keep America safe. Right now you don’t want me to do it — so I won’t. But if the law says I should and it keeps America safe, I will. That’s what the CIA is supposed to do.

Later on the show, Kilmeade interviewed Debra Burlingame, the sister of a pilot whose plane was hijacked on 9/11 who has since become an outspoken anti-Islam activist.

“Democrats are digging in their heels over President Trump’s nominee — in some respects — for CIA director Gina Haspel, because of her tough stance on terror,” Kilmeade said. “But tell that to Debra Burlingame.”

Burlingame started off by deriding lawmakers’ “obsession with this very successful program.”

“So the enhanced interrogation yielded results, and you say you know this for a fact?” Kilmeade asked.

“I know because I looked up the court cases,” Burlingame said, explaining how intelligence from detainees in black sites were used in two cases to convict terrorists.

(A debate still rages over how successful the program ultimately was since it was banned by an Obama executive order in 2009. While the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report concluded the program was “brutal” and “ineffective,” a number of ex-CIA heads, including Michael Hayden, argued otherwise.)

Burlingame went on to argue that it would be “demoralizing” for the CIA if Haspel apologized for the torture program. “Let’s remember: they didn’t break any laws,” Burlingame said. “This wasn’t torture.”

“Every living CIA director wants her, the CIA wants her there, the president wants her there,” Kilmeade said. “She would smash a glass ceiling if she got the job. She’s deputy, now she’s acting — she’s ready for it.”

“Debra Burlingame thanks so much,” Kilmeade concluded. “And thanks for continuing to fight for the right things.”

The Haspel love fest came a day after Kilmeade declared on the same show that she should be “proud” of what she accomplished, “whether it was black sites, enhanced interrogation.”

On Tuesday morning President Donald Trump — who during the 2016 campaign pledged to “bring back” waterboarding and “much worse” — tweeted out support for Haspel:

[image via screengrab]

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Aidan McLaughlin is the Editor of Mediaite. Send tips via email: aidan@mediaite.com. Ask for Signal. Follow him on Twitter: @aidnmclaughlin