Central Intelligence Agency nominee not present for detainee's torture at secret prison

Human rights advocates expressed outrage on March 13 after US President Donald Trump nominated deputy director Gina Haspel to be the next Central Intelligence Agency director - despite her leading role in running a Central Intelligence Agency black site where detainees were systematically and gruesomely abused, writes Jessica Corbett for Common Dreams.

Both policies were extremely controversial during the George W. Bush administration, and became issues during her confirmation.

Our account of Haspel's actions was drawn in part from declassified agency cables and CIA-reviewed books which referred to the official overseeing Zubaydah's interrogation at a secret prison in Thailand as "chief of base".

At the Washington Post, former CIA counterterrorism officer John Kiriakou, who served 23 months in prison for publicly confirming the existence of the agency's torture program in 2007, wrote about the message Haspel's promotion to CIA Director would send to Americans and the worldwide community. But she could face close scrutiny in her confirmation hearings over her involvement in "black site" facilities, so called because their existence is unacknowledged by the US government.

In a brief statement, the former undercover officer said she was "humbled" by Trump's confidence in her.

Indiana's other senator, Republican Todd Young, also hasn't said how he'll vote on confirming Pompeo and Haspel.

"The torture of detainees in US custody during the last decade was one of the darkest chapters in American history", McCain, who was infamously detained in a North Vietnamese prison camp for five and a half years, tweeted Tuesday. The executive summary of a still-classified Senate Intelligence Committee report describes the torture regime in (literally) agonizing detail at "Detention Site Green", the code name for the CIA detention facility in Thailand that Haspel ran starting in July 2002.

Trump defended the torture of detainees during the 2016 presidential race, saying it "works".

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who also raised concerns over Haspel, is now fighting brain cancer and has not attended any recent Senate vote.

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Mr. Pompeo criticized former President Barack Obama for closing down the CIA's so-called "black site" prisons - secret prisons the us has maintained around the globe for the objective of interrogating and torturing detainees. She also was among those officials involved in the decision to destroy video of interrogation sessions. But they did not immediately provide details.

The underlying assumption of all of Haspel's defenders is that, even if torture is immoral, illegal or ineffective, US intelligence officials must be free to do whatever they want in defense of "national security".

The Intelligence Committee is scheduled to begin considering Haspel's nomination in April. Instead of re-litigating the past, he said Haspel should be asked about Russia, China and cyber threats and how to improve intelligence collection on America's adversaries. One is whether she and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis can prepare Trump adequately for his planned meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The locations of the black sites were kept top-secret and were known only to the president and a few other officials.

"Opposition to the Iran deal is one thing".

Former CIA officer John Kiriakou says Haspel is not fit to lead the spy agency.

"There is no question that a director leaving after a year is very turbulent for the agency", said former CIA Director Michael Hayden. "And, I think she has a right to lay out her case". Another was told by an interrogator that he wouldn't receive due process in court because "we can never let the world know what I have done to you". But ProPublica did what it should have: issue a detailed correction along with an explanation about how it happened as soon as it had new information.

In reaction to Pompeo's nomination, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) said Trump's nomination of Pompeo "could have profound implications for the fate of the Iran nuclear deal and the prospect of a new war in the Middle East".

"The hard problem is intelligence agencies work aside from the law".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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