Gina Haspel: Torturers Should be Punished, Not Promoted

US president Donald Trump should never have nominated Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligence Agency.

When Haspel offered to withdraw her name from consideration, as the Washington Post reports she did during a White House meeting in early May, her offer should have been gratefully accepted.

The US Senate should vote against confirming her appointment – ideally, by a margin of 100-0. Each “yes” vote will darken the stain on America’s honor represented by Haspel’s career thus far.

Gina Haspel doesn’t belong at the head of the CIA. She doesn’t belong in the CIA at all. Nor does she belong in any other position of government authority.

Gina Haspel belongs in prison.

As “Chief of Base” at a secret CIA prison in Thailand called “Cat’s Eye,” Haspel oversaw the torture, including “waterboarding,” of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

Later, as Chief of Staff to Jose Rodriquez, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, Haspel drafted a cable ordering destruction of videotapes documenting the torture of al-Nashiri and of another prisoner, Abu Zubaydah.

So far as I can tell, neither of the above claims is disputed by Haspel or by anyone else.

Torture is a crime under both US law and international law. And in the form of “waterboarding,” it is a crime for which the US executed six Japanese generals after World War 2.

United States Code, Title 18 §2340A provides for a fine and up to 20 years imprisonment for torture not resulting in death.

As for the videotapes, US Code 18 §1519 mandates similar punishment for one who “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States …”

I can’t seem to find the parts of those code sections where the perpetrator is to be promoted to the top position in the Central Intelligence Agency.

Maybe Haspel was “small fry.” Perhaps she only oversaw torture of one person in one place. Perhaps drafting that cable ordering the evidence destroyed was just a coincidental assignment.

But not having caught the bigger fish yet is no excuse for throwing this one back, let alone promoting her to head the very organization under whose auspices she committed her crimes.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism. He lives and works in north central Florida. This article is reprinted with permission from William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism.

5 thoughts on “Gina Haspel: Torturers Should be Punished, Not Promoted”

  1. The fact that she has refused to remove herself from consideration is the kicker for me. The illegality of torture is well known by almost all in government service. The immorality of torturing and/or advocating torture is a black mark on the soul of America.

    The American people sit quietly and allow this crime to go unpunished.

    It seems to me that this is now who we are. Sad, really sad.

  2. Pick Philip Giraldi.

    What annoys me is how the US seems to outsource torture to others. So, even if we officially rejected it, it seems we’d still do it.

    I mean to say, I assume some of the mainstream critics of torture would, in office, support that same torture. They’d just outsource it. I could be mistaken.

    Separately, maybe it’s partly positive for US honour to be besmirched. It helps remove our claim to being “exceptional”, which really irks me. I’d rather the US were just a normal nation that liked itself without needing to be best, without needing to guide the world.

    Normal nations commit sins, later regret those sins. Because nations, like
    people, are imperfect. An ideology can declare itself best or superior, but nations are just mere people.

    And I don’t really know the topic of torture. I’ve never feared a foreign opponent, so never felt driven to learn the topic. Whatever one says about the US, we’re more secure than most any other polity.

    I certainly oppose total war, as does any Christian.

  3. Bill Lind argued against torture here: http://original.antiwar.com/lind/2009/06/02/stop-letting-cheney/

    Quote: “In effect, both our enemies and our allies will come to see us as evil. That enables enemies to recruit, raise money, and generate new operations while we must focus internally on papering over cracks in our coalitions. They gain greater harmony while we face increased friction, Boyd’s dread “many non-cooperative centers of gravity.” They pull together, we are pulled apart.”

    So, essentially, torture loses hearts and minds. That’s very interesting.

  4. She does indeed belong in prison. But, then again, so does Bush Sr., Jr., Obama, B & H Clinton and a legion of others

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