Torture is stain on our country. Not only does it rarely produce actionable intelligence, it is just morally and ethically wrong. The Senate should not confirm Gina Haspel to be Director of the CIA because she should be in prison instead.
John Kiriakou, a former CIA counterterrorism officer and a former senior investigator with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, writes:
Described in the media as a “seasoned intelligence veteran,” Haspel has been at the CIA for 33 years, both at headquarters and in senior positions overseas. Now the deputy director, she has tried hard to stay out of the public eye. Mike Pompeo, the outgoing CIA director and secretary of state designee, has lauded her “uncanny ability to get things done and inspire those around her.”
I’m sure that’s true for some. But many of the rest of us who knew and worked with Haspel at the CIA called her “Bloody Gina.”
The CIA will not let me repeat her résumé or the widely reported specifics of how her work fit into the agency’s torture program, calling such details “currently and properly classified.” But I can say that Haspel was a protege of and chief of staff for Jose Rodriguez, the CIA’s notorious former deputy director for operations and former director of the Counterterrorism Center. And that Rodriguez eventually assigned Haspel to order the destruction of videotaped evidence of the torture of Abu Zubaida. The Justice Department investigated, but no one was ever charged in connection with the incident.
CIA officers and psychologists under contract to the agency began torturing Abu Zubaida on Aug. 1, 2002. The techniques were supposed to be incremental, starting with an open-palmed slap to the belly or the face. But the operatives where he was held decided to start with the toughest method. They waterboarded Abu Zubaida 83 times. They later subjected him to sleep deprivation; they kept him locked in a large dog cage for weeks at a time; they locked him in a coffin-size box and, knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, put bugs in it with him.
Rodriguez would later tell reporters that the torture worked and that Abu Zubaida provided actionable intelligence that disrupted attacks and saved American lives. We know, thanks to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA torture and the personal testimony of FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, that this was false.
The meaning of Haspel’s nomination won’t be lost on our enemies, either. The torture program and similar abuses at military-run prisons in Iraq were among the greatest recruitment tools that al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and other bad actors ever had, according to legal experts, U.S. lawmakers and even the militantsthemselves. It energized them and gave them something to rally against. It sowed an even deeper hatred of the United States among militant groups. It swelled their ranks. It was no coincidence that the Islamic State paraded its prisoners in front of cameras wearing orange jumpsuits (like those worn by Guantanamo Bay detainees) before beheading them. Haspel and the others at the CIA who engineered and oversaw the torture program are at least partially responsible for that, because they showed the world how the United States sometimes treats captives.
Do we Americans want to remain a nation that tortures people, like North Korea, China and Iran? Are we proud of the era when we snatched people from one country and sent them to another to be interrogated in secret prisons? Do we want to be the country that cynically preaches human rights and then violates those same rights when we think nobody is looking?
(click here to continue reading I went to prison for disclosing the CIA’s torture. Gina Haspel helped cover it up. – The Washington Post.)
I will be paying attention to who votes to confirm Bloody Gina, I’m looking at you specifically Senator Feinstein…
Asked by a reporter about her opposition to an earlier promotion that Haspel was up for in 2013, Feinstein replied, “Well, I have spent some time with her, we’ve had dinner together, we have talked … everything I know is, is that she has been a good deputy director of the CIA….I think hopefully the entire organization learned something from the so-called enhanced interrogation program. I think it’s something that can’t be forgotten. And I certainly can never forget it. And I won’t let any director forget it,” the senator added, revealing she shared a “long personal talk” with Haspel about the program.
Pressed to say whether she’s “a no” on Haspel’s nomination, Feinstein appeared to be undecided. “No, right now I’m late for my hearings,” she said.
Feinstein is facing a surprisingly robust primary challenge from Democratic state Sen. Kevin de Leόn, which already seems to have nudged her leftward as she competes for the nomination. It’s very unlikely Feinstein will actually lose, but frustration with her perceivably establishment politics is clearly mounting among California’s progressive voter base. Last month, not only did the longtime senator fail to secure the state party’s endorsement at its annual convention, but de Leόn beat her by a margin of 17 percent of delegates.
If Feinstein believes Haspel is the right woman for the job, a “yes” vote could really upset Golden State progressives already dissatisfied with her job performance. On Tuesday afternoon, de Leόn seized on Feinstein’s early reaction to Haspel. “It is very concerning Senator Feinstein is ‘open to supporting’ CIA nominee Haspel, who ran a ‘black site’ prison that waterboarded and beat prisoners,” he tweeted. “Believes she has been a ‘good’ deputy CIA Director.”
Regardless of her own interests, Feinstein may plausibly determine Haspel is unfit for the position. But the senator’s ambiguity on Tuesday signals some measure of respect for the nominee, indicating the decision won’t come easily no matter what.
(click here to continue reading Gina Haspel’s CIA nomination could torture Dianne Feinstein.)