Feinstein asks CIA to declassify Gina Haspel post 9-11 torture documents before confirmation
Trump has tapped Haspel to take over as the agency’s next director after current director Mike Pompeo leaves to replace Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State.
“As we move forward with the nomination process for Ms. Haspel, my fellow senators and I must have the complete picture of Ms. Haspel’s involvement in the program in order to fully and fairly review her record and qualifications,” Feinstein wrote in a letter to Pompeo and Haspel.
Haspel was reportedly intimately involved with the Bush-era torture program, overseeing a secret US “black site” in Thailand where prisoners were abused and waterboarded. She also participated in the destruction of videotapes of the torture sessions.
Former CIA operative and whistleblower John Kiriakou has accused Haspel and others like her of torturing people because they “enjoyed” doing it. “They tortured just for the sake of torture, not for the sake of gathering information,” he said. Kiriakou also said Haspel was known to some of her colleagues as “Bloody Gina,” adding she should be “in the dock at the Hague,” not in the CIA director’s office.
The “enhanced interrogation techniques” torture program was approved by former President George W. Bush following the September 11 terror attacks. Shocking accounts of torture later emerged.
The American people “deserve to know the actual role the person nominated to be director of the CIA played in what I consider to be one of the darkest chapters in American history,” Feinstein wrote, without specifically ruling out supporting Haspel’s nomination.
On Wednesday, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who was tortured as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War, condemned Trump’s choice of Haspel to head the CIA.
“Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process,” McCain said, adding that the Bush administration “squandered precious moral authority” to obtain information.
The American Civil Liberties Union also condemned her nomination, saying Haspel was “up to her eyeballs in torture”.
If she is confirmed by the Senate, Haspel will become the first woman to lead the intelligence agency.
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CORRECTION:An earlier version of this story cited the ProPublica report which alleged that Haspel oversaw the torture of Abu Zubaydah while acting as chief of base at a CIA “black site” in Thailand in 2002. The particular claim has since been retracted after unnamed CIA officials said Haspel did not take charge of the base until after Zubaydah’s interrogation had ended. ProPublica still stands by its claim that Haspel urged the CIA leadership to destroy videotapes documenting Zubaydah’s waterboarding.