Tuesday we learned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson received word of his removal via tweet hours after returning from a tour of Africa he took to apologize for President Trump’s “shithole countries” comment.
His replacement is CIA director, Mike Pompeo, a Trump loyalist and the greatest beneficiary of campaign money from the notorious benefactors for libertarian and conservative causes, Charles and David Koch.
But Pompeo’s replacement, veteran CIA officer, Gina Haspel, is already raising red flags for her involvement in the CIA’s “black site” detention facilities, “unacknowledged” locations where officials engage in torture, specifically waterboarding.
One anonymous U.S. official commented:
“This is going to reopen wounds from a decade and more ago, and also invite more oversight of both our analyses and our activities, especially if Gina is confirmed.”
Intelligence officers who served with her, and congressional officials, report that during former President George W. Bush’s administration, Haspel ran a secret CIA prison in Thailand code named “Cat’s Eye,” where two suspected al Qaeda members were subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation techniques. Three years later, she abetted an order to destroy videotaped evidence of that torture.
Some U.S. intelligence officials deny Haspel’s alleged involvement in interrogations involving torture, but do not deny her involvement in destroying videotapes, which was reported in the Jose Rodriguez book Hard Measures and by former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow.
A U.S. justice department (DOJ) investigation into the tapes’ destruction concluded without charges, but the event helped spur an investigation into detentions and interrogations.
Member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), said on Tuesday he opposed the nominations of both Pompeo and Haspel.
About Haspel, Sen. Wyden said:
“Ms. Haspel’s background makes her unsuitable to serve as CIA director. Her nomination must include total transparency about this background, which I called for more than a year ago when she was appointed deputy director. If Ms. Haspel seeks to serve at the highest levels of U.S. intelligence, the government can no longer cover up disturbing facts from her past.”
Rob Berschinski, senior vice president of Human Rights First, commented:
“Haspel is a particularly controversial choice, given her reported past involvement in torture at CIA black sites. No one responsible for torture should be leading a federal agency, period. The Senate should use her confirmation process to send a strong signal about where this country stands on correcting the mistakes of the past.”
Christopher Anders, American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Washington legislative office deputy director, characterized Haspel as “up to her eyeballs in torture,” and urged the CIA to declassify her torture record before Senate confirmation proceedings commence.
Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain, himself a victim of torture while a prisoner of war in Vietnam, who called Bush-era detainees’ torture “one of the darkest chapters in American history,” concurs.
“Ms. Haspel needs to explain the nature and extent of her involvement in the CIA’s interrogation program during the confirmation process.”