Dr. James Mitchell, who helped designed the CIA’s torture program under President George W. Bush, defended President Donald Trump’s choice of Gina Haspel — who was part of the CIA torture program — to head the CIA.
During an interview on Fox News, Mitchell stated:
I think America is going to be safer with her as the CIA director. And we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot if she’s not confirmed.
Mitchell provided no actual proof that the U.S. would be safer, and went on to claim, without evidence, that the CIA’s torture program, which he has called enhanced interrogation, saved lives, notes Media Matters:
Oh, not at all. You have to remember that the program was the policy at the time. It came from the highest levels of government. It was operated under the direction of the presidency, with the president, with the consent of the National Security Agency.
The attorney general approved of the program and said that it wasn’t torture, and hundreds and hundreds — hundreds of people were involved in that program in the agency, whether or not she was.
And I think it’s not right to hold people accountable to a different set of standards than were in place at the time. That program stopped attacks, disrupted plots, and saved lives. So, I’m not concerned about that kind of talk.
Mitchell forgot to mention that a 2014 report prepared by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence found that the “[CIA] misled the White House, Congress and the American people; that unauthorized interrogation methods were used; that the legal opinions stating the techniques did not break US torture laws were flawed; and perhaps most significant, that the torture yielded no useful intelligence,” reported The Guardian.
Later in the Fox News interview, Mitchell falsely claimed the “CIA did not have a torture program”:
The sites are still classified, so I’m not going to opine on that. I can’t confirm or deny any of that sort of stuff, and I can’t confirm or deny that she was part of that program. But I can tell you that if I was asked that question that you asked me, I would say no, full stop, period.