Haspel Continues (Reluctantly) With Endangered Nomination Despite Opposition Over Her Prior Record Of Torture

440px-Gina_Haspel_official_CIA_portraitCIA nominee Gina Haspel reportedly sought to withdraw her nomination last Friday but was convinced to continue by the White House.  I have previously written extensively on my views the torture program implemented under the Bush Administration and why it was a clear violation of international laws and treaties.  As I wrote recently, CIA nominee Gina Haspel has featured greatly in that torture program.  Nevertheless, various Democrats continues to express a willingness to consider making her the head of the Central Intelligence Agency. In the meantime, Sarah Sanders has echoed the talking point that Senators will be hypocrites if they do not vote for the first woman to be nominated for this post.  The problem is that she is also the first person nominated with an admitted history of torture, even though she continues to mislabel the programs as “enhanced interrogation.”

Many democratic voters are angered by the continued consideration of a nominee associated with the torture program.  Senators like Diane Feinstein have been criticized for not doing enough during the Bush Administration despite her knowledge of the program.  She is now saying that she will wait to see how Haspel currently views torture.  It is her past however that is the basis for most opposing confirmation.  If waterboarding is torture (which it has been since the Spanish Inquisition), prior use of torture was viewed as a categorical exclusion from employment, let alone promotion, in government service.

Haspel’s confirmation would continue to erode the credibility of the United States in opposing human rights violations in other countries.  Her confirmation however could also lead to serious questions among Democratic voters as to the continued disconnect with their Senators, particularly when Republicans like John McCain and Rand Paul opposing the nomination on principle.

95 thoughts on “Haspel Continues (Reluctantly) With Endangered Nomination Despite Opposition Over Her Prior Record Of Torture

    • Gina Haspel should not be confirmed.

      Jeremy Scahill: “It’s a coup of sorts to have someone like Gina Haspel, who has been involved with destroying evidence, torture, kidnapping, and refuses—refuses—to denounce any of it. I mean, it’s incredible that 17 years after 9/11 and—and, I’m sorry, Obama plays a huge role in how this happened. The moment Obama said, “We need to look forward, not backward,” was the moment that Gina Haspel was able to become a viable candidate for CIA. And, I mean, this is a very, very serious development and the result of a probably extralegal propaganda campaign and an operation aimed at the domestic American public.”

      Transcript:

      https://www.democracynow.org/2018/5/10/jeremy_scahill_obama_paved_way_for

      Excerpt:

      “What we saw yesterday was a CIA propaganda operation. Gina Haspel’s answers were very carefully prepared, the way she refused to answer Kamala Harris’s questions about the immorality of torture.

      “And, you know, one of the things I found was astounding was she said the CIA has historically not been in the business of interrogations. What on Earth is she talking about? And why wasn’t she pressed on that? I believe that what she was doing was relying on a technicality, which is that the CIA traditionally outsources those interrogations, or they will have people like those mental health professionals, Mitchell and Jessen, who were essentially the ones that came in and said, “Here’s how we can reverse-engineer the tactics that we use to train our own personnel to resist torture or to face torture. Let’s reverse-engineer that and actually apply it in an offensive manner against prisoners.”

      “So, the fact that—this hearing was a farce, where, unfortunately, some of the Democrats and all of the Republicans engaged in a collective endorsement of what is, in my view, quite clearly, a CIA propaganda operation. It’s a coup of sorts to have someone like Gina Haspel, who has been involved with destroying evidence, torture, kidnapping, and refuses—refuses—to denounce any of it. I mean, it’s incredible that 17 years after 9/11 and—and, I’m sorry, Obama plays a huge role in how this happened. The moment Obama said, “We need to look forward, not backward,” was the moment that Gina Haspel was able to become a viable candidate for CIA. And, I mean, this is a very, very serious development and the result of a probably extralegal propaganda campaign and an operation aimed at the domestic American public.”

  1. Lawyers Told Gina Haspel Torture Was Legal. But It Never Was.

    By Claire Finkelstein and Stephen N. Xenakis

    Ms. Finkelstein is director and Dr. Xenakis is a board member of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “While no love is lost between President Trump and our intelligence services, Ms. Haspel’s fidelity to the agency’s involvement with torture, and her confirmed role in covering it up, are evidently appealing to Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly stated his belief that torture works.

    “In January 2017, a draft executive order by the Trump administration called for allowing the reopening of black sites and possibly revising the Army Field Manual to allow coercive interrogation techniques. The president has the power to alter the Army Field Manual without congressional approval. This is most likely the door through which torture would re-enter, if the government can demonstrate that the changes are in accordance with domestic and international law.

    “The use of torture and cruel and degrading treatment in the war on terrorism has distorted our justice system, impaired our reputation internationally and emboldened our enemies. Accountability for misconduct, particularly of our own agencies, is the first step toward restoring the rule of law. Whether to put the country on the path of restoration or to continue to elide a disgraceful chapter in our history is the choice the Senate now faces.”

  2. I myself am less outraged by waterboarding (now considered torture, then not, now illegal, then not) than most who have commented.

    When I put myself in Haskel’s place — or in the place f any of the people who supported waterboarding — I ask myself some questions and try to think through how I would address the problem she faced, were I in her place.

    I’d begin by looking at the reality of 9/11. I would not want it to occur again under any circumstances.

    I’d next ask myself: is it legal? At the time, it was legal.

    I’d then move on to morality: is waterboarding moral or immoral, if by engaging in it we could avoid another 9/11? (Remember, in those days, it was not known whether or not waterboarding would be effective although there was much speculation on both sides.)

    I’d end by asking myself which situation I’d least like to face: Being called before a congressional committee and being criticized for pushing right up to the border of the law, as it then existed, but not crossing it, or pulling back on “moral” grounds and facing a congressional committee trying to explain why I might have been responsible for another 9/11 because, on moral grounds, I did not push to the legal limits of my responsibility.

    I would prefer the former, given how plastic a concept morality is. I could, of course, just quit and not face the dillema. But how would I feel if an attack did occur and I had run from the legal responsibility of my office? I would have a hard time forgiving myself.

  3. FYI Paul:

    “The New York Times reported in Feb. 2017: “Gina Haspel, C.I.A. Deputy Director, Had Leading Role in Torture,” that, “[Terrorist suspect Abu] Zubaydah alone was waterboarded 83 times in a single month, had his head repeatedly slammed into walls and endured other harsh methods before interrogators decided he had no useful information to provide. The sessions were videotaped and the recordings stored in a safe at the CIA station in Thailand until 2005, when they were ordered destroyed. By then, Ms. Haspel was serving at CIA headquarters, and it was her name that was on the cable carrying the destruction orders.”

    https://consortiumnews.com/2018/05/08/torture-is-not-only-immoral-but-a-tool-for-war/

    • Thanks, Jill.

      One of the comments to the CN piece:

      mike k, May 8, 2018 at 6:32 pm:

      “She’s a smug little demon isn’t she? Right at home in the nest of vipers that is the CIA.”

      Ring of truth? Feels right from where I’m sitting.

      • Anon,

        To my way of thinking this “government” has embraced torture. Gina is one egregious example of that embrace. What does it say about Trump that she’s who he picks? I think GG askes a good question there.

        Then we see how too many people in our society are ready to embrace torture as well. Most know nothing about what actually happens/happened during torture. It just sounds “strong” to them. That is very sad. Torture is a mark of weakness, not stregth.

        Things are so mixed up right now. Thanks for the link to someone’s actual experience, something we don’t hear much of in the US.

          • http://gallery.mailchimp.com/39e79512d5d2a5ec157ac81f4/files/4667fd75-bc76-43c7-9c8f-f91ebd6e8134/Military_Letter_To_Trump.pdf

            January 6, 2017

            Donald J. Trump
            President-elect of the United States of America Trump Tower
            735 5th Avenue
            New York, NY 10022

            Dear President-Elect Trump,

            We are a group of 176 retired flag officers from all branches of the United States military. We have over six thousand years of combined experience in commanding and leading American men and women in war and in peace, and believe strongly in the values and ideals that our country holds dear. We know from experience that U.S. national security policies are most effective when they uphold those ideals.

            For these reasons, we are concerned about statements made during the campaign about the use of torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment of detainees in U.S. custody. The use of waterboarding or any so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” is unlawful under domestic and international law. Opposition to torture has been strong and bi-partisan since the founding of our republic through the administration of President Ronald Reagan to this very day. This was reinforced last year when the Congress passed the McCain-Feinstein anti-torture law on an overwhelmingly bi-partisan basis.

            Torture is unnecessary. Based on our experience—and that of our nation’s top interrogators, backed by the latest science—we know that lawful, rapport-based interrogation techniques are the most effective way to elicit actionable intelligence.

            Torture is also counterproductive because it undermines our national security. It increases the risks to our troops, hinders cooperation with allies, alienates populations whose support the United States needs in the struggle against terrorism, and provides a propaganda tool for extremists who wish to do us harm.

            Most importantly, torture violates our core values as a nation. Our greatest strength is our commitment to the rule of law and to the principles embedded in our Constitution. Our servicemen and women need to know that our leaders do not condone torture or detainee abuse of any kind.

            We look forward to working with you in the future on this and any other issue as you serve our great country. –End of letter

            Refer to the linked letter for names of the officers.

  4. There is a fundamental difference between an “intelligence service” vs. “Cold War style Stasi”.

    An intelligence service focuses on foreign threats while operating within their constitutional Oath of Office.

    An East German style Stasi views their own fellow citizens as the enemy and practices domestic spying.

    If you want an American intelligence service vote “NO” on Haspel. If you like the communist model, vote “YES”.

  5. About Gina Haspel: “…she’s the Director the CIA deserves, an accurate reflection of what this agency really is. Having someone who everyone knows is a torturer at the helm of this agency will make it that much harder to sustain the U.S. media propaganda script – led by CIA spokespeople such as NBC’s Ken Dilanian and Ignatius – about the good and noble work this agency does. On some level, it’s healthy for the CIA to finally wear its true identity on its sleeve.” -Glenn Greenwald

    https://theintercept.com/2018/05/08/will-democrats-unite-to-block-trumps-torturer-gina-haspel-as-cia-chief-if-not-what-do-they-resist/

    by Glenn Greenwald

    Excerpt:

    “This is American Exceptionalism in its purest, and ugliest, expression: war criminals which lead African nations or enemies of the U.S. are sent to the Hague to be prosecuted, while American war criminals are rewarded, empowered, and praised. When an American tortures, it’s not a crime but a mere “taint,” and certainly not one that should result in denial of promotions let alone handcuffs and a prison cell.

    “During the last Israeli election, when pundits thought Benjamin Netanyahu may lose, I recall many Palestinian activists hoping that Netanyahu would win, because it’s clarifying of what Israel is to have Netanyahu as its leader rather than some prettier, more palatable figure who would support the same policies of occupation, aggression, and illegal settlement.

    “One could certainly look at Gina Haspel that way: she’s the Director the CIA deserves, an accurate reflection of what this agency really is. Having someone who everyone knows is a torturer at the helm of this agency will make it that much harder to sustain the U.S. media propaganda script – led by CIA spokespeople such as NBC’s Ken Dilanian and Ignatius – about the good and noble work this agency does. On some level, it’s healthy for the CIA to finally wear its true identity on its sleeve.

    “But it’s also clarifying about the charade of Trump and the #Resistance, about the supposed inability of the parties to agree on anything, of the refusal of people from different ideologies to unite. That Trump chose someone with one of the most gruesome torture histories to lead the CIA is certainly revealing about who he is. And if the Democrats cannot unite to stop that, that will be further evidence of what they are. What kind of #Resistance refuses to stop an actual torturer chosen by Donald Trump from being promoted to head the most powerful spy agency in the world?” -Glenn Greenwald

    • So what? More emotive barf from from a man no one of sense or decency would take seriously.

      • I don’t care. I’m quite familiar with the political subculture he manifests. They aren’t very common among ordinary people, but quite common among the intelligentsia and lumpenintelligentsia. They merit no respect.

        • “They merit no respect.” -Nii

          So says someone who calls himself “Nutchacha is insufferable.”

          (Someone is certainly “insufferable” and some might say it’s “Nii.”)

          “I don’t care.” -Nii

          And I certainly don’t care that you don’t care.

          (Isn’t it about time for another name change, Nii?)

        • Excellent. As if you have any idea what “ordinary people” think, do or feel.

          this is to “I can often pass for a rational human if I stand just so” nutty suffer

  6. “andrew kaczynski andrew kaczynski
    @KFILE
    2h

    The RNC’s messaging that Democrats who opposes Haspel love terrorists/are anti-feminist is obviously flawed messaging, but they raise a fair point about all the support Brennan got for CIA director from Democrats opposing her. pic.twitter.com/vOsQgCQ3F0”

    Glenn’s response to Kaczynski

    “Glenn Greenwald
    @ggreenwald
    Replying to @KFILE

    That’s why she’s going to get confirmed: the primary guilt for torture lies with the Bush WH and the CIA, but the reason torture supporters are welcomed in good company is because Obama not only protected them from all punishment (criminal & civil) but also hired many of them.

    7:11 AM – 8 May 2018”

  7. Leftists are such hypocritical anti-American misogynists. Watch and learn how the Leftist presstitutes promote this hypocritical ant-American misogynist agenda:

    • Ralph,

      Leftists can be misogynists as can those on the right. The question is, is opposing Haspel, a woman who broke the law, sexist. Are facts sexist? She tortured and she destroyed evidence that the DOJ had ordered preserved. That makes this particular woman unqualified for this job. It does not mean there aren’t other women who are qualified.

      A sexist believes there is only one woman capable of being nominated for this post.

      There are plenty of capable, competent women who could do this job. Choose one of them.

      • Prove she broke the law.

        Of course, ‘misogyny’ is not an important cultural force in society.

      • Jill – the DoJ has destroyed documents, so what is the big deal. Did she personally do the torturing (and I do not consider waterboarding torture) or was she there, or in the chain of command?

        • Paul,

          The DOJ has destroyed documents. This should bother you because it means your govt. is not accountable to we the people and is completely out of control. I put a video here yesterday which explains Bloody Gina’s actions.

          Waterboarding is a crime under US law. We have actually prosecuted and convicted people for it. Gina will be arrested for torture if she sets foot in certain nations because she is to face trial for torture (use of waterboarding and other methods) in those nation.

          If you want the rule of law back, you cannot dismiss the crimes of the powerful. They must be held to account. If you are so afraid of terrorism that you are willing to sell out your Constitution, I urge that you rethink that immediately. Your fear and resultling williness to destroy the rule of law is helping bring down our nation.

          • Jill – Comey destroyed the rule of law when he failed to indict Hillary. The rule of law is being restored except for the lawless Mueller investigation.

            • Paul,

              We the people must restore the rule of law. That means we have integrity. You can’t, for example, say that you’re upset because Hillary destroyed her govt. documents then claim it’s o.k. for Gina to do it.

              There are very few people left in our govt. who care about our Constitution. That is the truth. It is therfore incumbent on us as citizens to have moral and intellectual integrity. If a govt. agent we don’t like breaks the law, we should speak up. If a govt. agent we do like breaks the law, we should speak up.

              There will be no savior for us in the govt. It’s up to us. Do not excuse the crimes of the powerful, even if it’s your party and/or you personally like the person. We will never be a nation of laws if we allow powerful men and women to keep breaking the law as long as we “like” them.

              • Paul,

                Here’s some more info for you:

                “For years, much has been reported on the abhorrent practice of waterboarding during the United States’ “War on Terror” – but, until recently, less has been said about other forms of torture that were perpetrated by Americans on CIA detainees. With the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director, the spotlight has now been shone on a notorious CIA “black site” prison, the name and location of which are widely known in open sources but which officially remain classified. We’ve heard about the controversial practices and we’ve read about videotaped evidence being destroyed. But not much has been revealed about what exactly happened at this black site.

                We have spent a combined 40 years evaluating torture survivors, and our unique, intimate perspective leads us to just one conclusion: confirming Haspel to lead the CIA would be unconscionable.

                Prisoners at the black site were kept naked in pitch black cells with their wrists and ankles shackled to one ring on the wall while loud music blared out 24 hours a day; rats and insects crawled over the men in cells that were either freezing cold or unbearably hot. So horrific were the conditions between interrogations that one prisoner reportedly preferred the “official” torture sessions, since they allowed him to move from his cell…”

                Find this and other info at wikileaks twitter. My links from them won’t post so just go there yourself and see what you think.

          • Don’t feed the trolls, When they make these ridiculous statements stating that it’s okay for the government to destroy evidence, you know immediately that they’re either off their meds or are just trying to pull you offsides.

            this is to jill

      • What’s your evidence that Haspel destroyed evidence, Jill? In any event, Hilary Clinton destroyed incriminating evidence, yet you think she should be President. You are a misogynist if the woman isn’t a Leftist. That’s your “standard.”

    • Haha. Ingraham. As if. Pro tip: when your source of information foams at the mouth on camera, you might want to broaden your sources of information.

      this is to “I have a new ‘Hannity was here’ tattoo across my lower back” ralphie

      • Marky Mark Mark – as I have told you before, you are not a pro, stop trying to give pro tips. You are conning the public.

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