The CIA’s New General Counsel Isn’t Sure Whether or Not Torture Is Illegal. And These 17 Democrats Don’t Mind.

On Tuesday, the Senate voted 67–33 to confirm Courtney Elwood, a former Supreme Court clerk and lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration, for the position of General Counsel of the CIA.

Ten years ago, Elwood was active in helping former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez avoid questions from Congress about the unprecedented dismissal of seven US Attorneys. And that skill for not answering questions and playing fast and loose with legality was on display in the hearings on her nomination this go-around:

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., had urged his colleagues to vote against the nomination. He pointed out that during her confirmation hearing, Elwood said she had read the 500-page unclassified summary of the Senate report on the CIA interrogation program. But she said it was not sufficient for her to conclude whether the CIA’s interrogation techniques violated the law.

Elwood, in her confirmation hearing, attempted to assure Senators that Trump would not resurrect George W. Bush’s torture program. However, if she isn’t willing to admit that what was done was illegal, it’s hard to take her at her word.

That didn’t stop 17 members of the Democratic Caucus, including some particularly vocal opponents of torture (Remember Feinstein back in the Torture Report days?), from voting for her confirmation, however:

Michael Bennet (D-CO)
Tom Carper (D-DE)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Joe Donnelly (D-IN)
Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Angus King (I-ME)
Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
Chris Murphy (D-CT)
Bill Nelson (D-FL)
Mark Warner (D-VA)

[Two Republicans — Dean Heller of Nevada and Rand Paul of Kentucky — sided with the majority of Democrats in voting NO.]

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