Responsible for running a secret CIA black site prison in Thailand and overseeing the torture of at least two terror suspects, CIA Deputy Director Gina Haspel has been nominated to lead the agency by President Donald Trump after replacing State Department Secretary Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo. Besides overseeing the black site torture program, Haspel also participated in the destruction of 92 videotapes that recorded hours of torture as evidence.
According to The Washington Post, Haspel ran a CIA black site in Thailand codenamed “Cat’s Eye” while supervising the harsh interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and ’Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. Shot and captured during a raid in Pakistan in 2002, Zubaydah had been recovering in a hospital when he began providing information to FBI agents regarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM).
Insisting that Zubaydah was withholding more information, CIA interrogators waterboarded him at least 83 times in a single month. Although Zubaydah had given up the information about KSM weeks before being tortured, the CIA still credits this human rights violation as a success, and his enhanced interrogation became a template for future atrocities.
While serving as chief of staff to former director of the National Clandestine Service Jose Rodriguez Jr. in 2005, Haspel was ordered to draft a cable demanding the destruction of the 92 videotapes that recorded the incessant torture of Abu Zubaydah and ’Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. In response to the destruction of those tapes, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence voted to review the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program on March 5, 2009, and later released the Senate torture report in 2014.
According to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report, harsh interrogation techniques are not effective means of acquiring intelligence. Under duress, prisoners will say anything they believe the interrogator wants to hear in order to end the torment. Although the CIA claims information acquired through enhanced interrogation has saved lives and led to the death of Osama bin Laden, the Committee discovered these claims are patently false.
In 2013, Sen. Dianne Feinstein blocked Haspel’s promotion to CIA director due to her role in the torture program and the destruction of the tapes. Feinstein later reversed her decision without providing any valid reasons.
“Since my concerns were raised over the torture situation, I have met with her extensively,” Feinstein stated. “Talked with her. She has been, I believe, a good deputy director. She seems to have the confidence of the agency, which is good.”
Mr. Pompeo “must explain to the American people how his promotion of someone allegedly involved in running a torture site squares with his own sworn promises to Congress that he will reject all forms of torture and abuse,” Christopher Anders, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s office in Washington, told The New York Times.
During an interview with “Fox and Friends” in December 2015, Trump stated, “When you get these terrorists, you have to take out their families.” At a rally in June 2016, Trump asked the crowd what they thought about waterboarding. As his supporters cheered in ignorant bliss, Trump stated, “I like it a lot. I don’t think it’s tough enough.”