Haspel's testimony

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Hina Shamsi, Director of the ACLU's National Security Project, talks about Gina Haspel's nomination-hearing testimony:

During today's nomination hearing for Gina Haspel, President Donald Trump's pick to lead the CIA, Haspel testified about a topic that has rightly generated significant controversy: the destruction of 92 videotapes showing CIA torture.

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), asked a question about the destruction of those tapes, misspeaking when she referred to tapes showing interrogations "of 92 detainees." Haspel, seemingly determined to correct Feinstein, stated that the tapes "were of only one detainee."

But the CIA's own records produced in response to the ACLU's torture transparency litigation contradict Haspel. According to those records, which include a declaration under oath from then-CIA Director Leon Panetta, the 92 destroyed tapes depicted abuse of two detainees: Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Shamsi wonders, "what else is she not telling the truth about?"

There's already another discrepancy today in accounts about the videotape destruction. There's no dispute that Haspel was an avid proponent of destruction. In a Propublica account published today, Haspel's then-boss at the CIA, Jose Rodriguez, says he told Haspel in advance that he intended to destroy the tapes. In her Congressional testimony, Haspel denied that he did so.

Perhaps there's some other explanation for the detainee videotape discrepancy. And for why Haspel's account doesn't square with Rodriguez's. But unless the CIA releases more information about Haspel's role -- beyond the information serving its propaganda campaign on her behalf -- we won't know.

John Feffer's summation of the banality of Haspel is rather straightforward:

It would be hard to find someone with more experience to run the CIA.

And that's why she's a terrible choice.

"The CIA," writes Feffer, "needs someone who is dead set against the very nature of the organization, just as Scott Pruitt is anti-environment and Ben Carson could care less about housing and urban development (at least for the people who need it most):"

Gina Haspel is just the type of status-quo choice that Donald Trump promised not to make. She's not a swamp-drainer.

She's a swamp thing.

"Gina Haspel's banality is the problem," Feffer writes, "not the solution:"

So, after 2001, the CIA could draw on its own history and the experience of its own authoritarian allies to create black sites in various countries -- Thailand, Poland, Romania, Morocco, Lithuania, Afghanistan, Bosnia -- where it would send suspected terrorists, via "extraordinary rendition," to be tortured. [...]

In summer 2002, the George W. Bush administration developed a legal rationale for torture. On July 24, Attorney General John Ashcroft approved the use of "the attention grasp, walling, the facial hold, the facial slap (insult slap), cramped confinement, wall standing, stress positions, sleep deprivation, use of diapers, and use of insects." On July 26, he approved waterboarding. Once the CIA got this approval, the interrogators did the rest.

Feffer also takes issue with former director of the CIA Clandestine Service John Bennett's remarks that: "She has taken on some of the most demanding and least rewarding assignments in the War on Terror, not because she sought them out, but because she felt it was her duty."

Her duty? To run a black site in Thailand? To cover up evidence of the torture that took place there?

She didn't just obey orders as a lowly grunt, the defense used by Nazi underlings at the Nuremberg trials. She actively sought out the "most demanding" assignments and rose through the ranks accordingly. Advancement by demonstrating that you can do the dirty work without qualms: It's the same path taken by Vladimir Putin, former KGB bureau chief, on his way to becoming Russian president.

You don't make waves. You prove your indispensability. You are the irreplaceable cog in an organization doing reprehensible things.

You can't get more banal than that.

John Amato lauds Shep Smith for how he "completely destroyed Gina Haspel's attempts to defend the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques:"

Shep continued, "Waterboarding is torture and is not permitted under Army Field Manual guidelines. Torture is illegal under international law. The Supreme Court noted in 2004 that the United States has a historical record as regarding waterboarding as a war crime and has prosecuted individuals for such practice in the past."

As noted by Claire Finkelstein and Stephen Xenakis in the NYT:

"[T]he faulty advice of government lawyers and bosses cannot make illegal conduct legal. And C.I.A. investigations that rely on these specious justifications to excuse her decisions should be given no weight."

"Damn them all to hell for letting her get away with it," Amato concludes.

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This page contains a single entry by cognitivedissident published on May 10, 2018 3:48 PM.

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