Spencer Ackerman reports that Trump’s nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, was more extensively involved in the use of torture on detainees than previously thought:
But in his 2014 book, John Rizzo, a longtime senior CIA lawyer, indicated that Haspel was responsible for the incommunicado detention and torture not of two men, but of dozens, potentially [bold mine-DL]. Former intelligence officials interviewed by The Daily Beast have portrayed Haspel’s experience similarly.
Haspel should never have been nominated for this position or the deputy director position she currently holds, and she certainly shouldn’t be confirmed as the next head of the CIA. The fact that she was responsible for torturing any detainees disqualifies her, and now it appears that she was responsible for even more of it than we thought. Rizzo states in his book that she had “run the interrogation program.” If that’s true, it assigns her a much larger role in torturing detainees. Rizzo’s claim was backed up by former CIA officials:
“To the best of my understanding, she ran the interrogation program,” the official said.
“Her becoming director absolutely terrifies me,” continued the former CIA official. “Once I heard her name, I immediately thought, ‘Oh, God.’”
The CIA denies the claim, but that is what we would expect them to say. The agency itself and current and former intelligence officials have been making such an extraordinary and obnoxious effort to advocate for Haspel’s nomination that it makes everything her supporters say in her defense hard to take seriously. Her cheerleaders have a strong incentive to see her confirmed:
“If Ms. Haspel is confirmed, it will send a terrible message to the world broadly, and to the officers of the CIA more superficially,” a former U.S. intelligence official said. “The CIA, and its former officers, are pushing so hard for Ms. Haspel to be director because if she’s confirmed, it essentially exonerates her, the CIA and all of these former senior CIA officials from their involvement in or their defense of the torture program.”
A vote for Haspel is effectively a vote to exonerate torturers and to reward one of the chief torturers with a high-ranking position.
Haspel’s involvement in the torture of detainees ought to be reason enough for the Senate to reject her nomination, but if that isn’t enough there is also the problem that having her in charge of the CIA could also jeopardize the ability of the CIA to cooperate with allied intelligence agencies. Amrit Singh and Jonathan Horowitz write:
These are reasons enough for senators to reject her nomination. But if they need another reason, they should consider the fact that key U.S. allies may be unwilling to cooperate with a CIA that has as its head a person who both oversaw torture and has so little respect for the rule of law.
Haspel’s confirmation hearing has been scheduled to take place in May. If senators have the slightest respect for the rule of law, they should reject her nomination.