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Former CIA analyst arrested for protesting Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing

Ray McGovern was violently arrested on video while protesting against Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing Wednesday.

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Former CIA analyst turned political activist, Ray McGovern was violently arrested on video while protesting against Gina Haspel’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. Although the 78-year-old veteran intelligence officer was unarmed and not fighting back, Capitol police officers slammed him to the floor and re-injured his dislocated shoulder for speaking out against torture.

Serving as a CIA analyst from 1963 to 1990, McGovern prepared President Ronald Reagan’s Daily Brief and received the CIA’s Intelligence Commendation Medal upon his retirement. Critical of President George W. Bush’s policies and the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation” techniques, McGovern returned the medal in protest in 2006.

During Haspel’s confirmation hearing this week, senators questioned her role in operating a “black site” that tortured at least two prisoners and her participation in ordering the destruction of 92 videotapes depicting hundreds of hours of waterboarding. When asked by Sen. Susan Collins whether Haspel would hypothetically follow the president’s orders to conduct enhanced interrogation on a suspected terrorist, Haspel replied, “Senator, I would advise – I do not believe the president would ask me to do that.”

Trump has publicly stated that he does not consider waterboarding to be torture, believes that waterboarding works, and wants to expand the enhanced interrogation program. During the presidential campaign, he also called for the U.S. military to murder the families of terrorists.

As Sen. Jack Reed began to ask Haspel about her views on waterboarding, McGovern stood up during the proceeding and apologized for interrupting before protesting against Haspel’s nomination to head the CIA. After Sen. Richard Burr ordered Capitol police officers to remove McGovern, cellphone video recorded the cops escorting the former CIA analyst out of the room before tackling him to the floor.

Image Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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With the officers ordering him to stop resisting and put his hands behind his back, McGovern attempted to inform them that his left shoulder was dislocated and immobilized. McGovern could be heard yelling in pain as the officers wrenched and pulled at his arms.

On Monday, McGovern wrote an op-ed titled “Will a Torturer Become CIA Director?” In the article, he agreed with the Senate Intelligence Committee’s summary that concluded torture does not work because the person under enhanced interrogation will say anything that they believe will stop the torture, regardless of truth.

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, issued a press release: “Today, Gina Haspel testified before the Senate and to the country about her qualifications to lead the CIA. This occasion provided an opportunity to provide details about her experience in the CIA, explain her involvement in the so-called enhanced interrogation program during the Bush Administration, and account for the mistakes the country made in torturing detainees held in U.S. custody after the September 11th attacks. Unfortunately, the testimony the American people heard from Ms. Haspel today failed to address these concerns.

“Like many Americans, I understand the urgency that drove the decision to resort to so-called enhanced interrogation methods after our country was attacked. I know that those who used enhanced interrogation methods and those who approved them wanted to protect Americans from harm. I appreciate their dilemma and the strain of their duty. But as I have argued many times, the methods we employ to keep our nation safe must be as right and just as the values we aspire to live up to and promote in the world.

“I believe Gina Haspel is a patriot who loves our country and has devoted her professional life to its service and defense. However, Ms. Haspel’s role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing. Her refusal to acknowledge torture’s immorality is disqualifying. I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination.”

On Thursday, Sen. Bernie Sanders issued the following statement: “We need a new CIA director who is committed to the rule of law and will heed the advice of U.S. military leaders who vigorously oppose torture and uphold the values that have made us a great and respected nation. Ms. Haspel is the wrong choice to lead the CIA, and I will oppose her nomination.”

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