President Donald Trump has nominated CIA deputy director Gina Haspel to lead the agency as former CIA head Mike pompey has left to become Secretary of State.
The Washington Post reported that Haspel offered to withdraw her name recently, but changed her mind on May 5.
Haspel oversaw torture in 2002 at a CIA “black site” in Thailand, where one prisoner was waterboarded 83 times and tortured in other ways, notes Democracy Now.
The former acting director of the CIA confirmed that Haspel personally oversaw the destruction of videotape evidence in 2005 that showed torture at the black site.
During her upcoming Senate confirmation hearing, Haspel may finally have to face questions about her role in President George W. Bush administration’s torture program, which violated international law, and treaties signed by President Ronald Reagan.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders — a self-described Christian — praised Haspel’s (torture) background:
There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel. Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite.
John Prados, senior fellow at the National Security Archive, told Democracy Now about Haspel’s role in CIA torture:
We have pieces of documents that identify Ms. Haspel with two specific events, one of them being the torture at the site in Thailand that you mentioned, and the other being the instructions issued by the CIA operations director, Jose Rodriguez, to destroy videotapes that documented CIA torture. At that time—at the later time, she was the chief of staff to Mr. Rodriguez.
So, the documentation that we have has excised from it—this is typical in declassification work—the names, the information, the words that would identify in fact what Haspel’s exact role was in this situation.
And, of course, there would be surrounding documents, like conversations between high-level officials at the agency talking about the result of the destruction of the videotapes, as well as documents that we don’t even know about yet that concern Haspel’s efforts in Thailand and as chief of staff.
John Kiriakou, a former CIA analyst who blew the whistle on the Bush torture program, recalled his knowledge of Haspel whom he worked with at the CIA:
We did call her Bloody Gina. Gina was always very quick and very willing to use force. You know, there was a group of officers in the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, when I was—when I was serving there, who—I hate to even make the accusation out loud, but I’m going to say it: who enjoyed using force.
Yeah, everybody knew that torture didn’t work. That’s not even the issue. Lots of different things work. Was it moral, and was it ethical, and was it legal? I think the answers to those questions are very clearly no.
But Gina and people like Gina did it, I think, because they enjoyed doing it. They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information.
(Source: Democracy Now)