Rex Tillerson’s removal as secretary of state and his replacement with the extremist Mike Pompeo who, until yesterday, was director of the CIA, as well as the appointment of Gina Haspel, a veteran agent linked to the regular practice of torture to obtain information from detainees, to lead that agency, marks the deepening hostility of Donald Trump’s administration toward the international community, indicates the growing chaos in which the current U.S. presidency is unfolding and foreshadows even darker times for the protection of human rights and international law.
Although no longer surprising, we can’t ignore the rude and poor institutional way in which the occupant of the White House executes his decisions: through tweets. That was how Tillerson found out about his dismissal, which was confirmed by Steve Goldstein, undersecretary of public affairs at the State Department, who was also fired a few hours later. On the other hand, the designation of Pompeo, a hawk of the so-called tea party who promotes espionage against citizens by government entities, defends torture, advocates for the intensification of covert operations in Afghanistan and rants against the denuclearization agreement with Iran because he thinks it is too soft on that country, makes one think it is inevitable that the already belligerent and aggressive posture of Washington toward the world will only get worse.
In view of such a replacement, it is clear that both the tone and content of what was recently discussed between Latin American leaders and Tillerson during his tour across the region will be subject to revision, and that the unexpected progress that the now ex-secretary of state had achieved to calm the tensions between the United States and North Korea could vanish at any moment.
Even more worrisome, Haspel’s attaining the CIA’s leadership position is cause to believe that Washington’s role as a global violator of human rights could reach even more scandalous levels than those reached by George W. Bush’s administration, when the CIA, the Pentagon and the National Security Agency established a network of torture and murder centers in dozens of countries, using the war on terror as an excuse.
It seems relevant to remember that Haspel supervised one of these centers, located in Thailand, where dozens of alleged al-Qaida members were brutally tortured using waterboarding, as the CIA calls it, and that she was later in charge of destroying the videos documenting such atrocities.
On top of that, the aforementioned firings and replacements occurred on the same day Trump visited the prototypes of the wall he intends to build on the border with Mexico, one of his already aggressive gestures, on land located in San Diego, California. As expected, the president used the visit to vilify and threaten California, which has stood in opposition to the presidential xenophobia and which refuses to cooperate with the persecution of immigrants.
The most alarming part is that it is extremely difficult to find a clearly defined political strategy within all the hostility from the president of this neighboring country. On the contrary, it appears Trump is moved by visceral and unpredictable reactions, whether to distract domestic attention from the multiple scandals he is involved in, or to give circumstantial and immediate incentives to the corporate interests which he represents and satisfy the darkest, most backward and brutal currents of U.S. society, which, in the end, constitute his social support.