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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/10/18

Jeremy Scahill: Obama Paved Way for Haspel to Head CIA by Failing to Hold Torturers Accountable

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On Capitol Hill Wednesday, President Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, announced she would not restart the CIA's interrogation program. But she repeatedly refused to call the CIA's post-9/11 treatment of prisoners "torture," and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral. Haspel's comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, as she made her case to become the first woman to head the agency. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site.

At least two Republican senators have come out against her -- Rand Paul and John McCain, who said her "role in overseeing the use of torture is disturbing and her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying." But Haspel may still be confirmed with the help of Democratic lawmakers. Democratic Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia has already announced he will back Haspel. We speak with Jeremy Scahill, co-founder of The Intercept and host of the weekly podcast "Intercepted."

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

NERMEEN SHAIKH: On Capitol Hill, President Trump's nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, announced she would not restart the CIA's interrogation program. But she repeatedly refused to call the CIA's post-9/11 treatment of prisoners torture, and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral.

Haspel's comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee as she made her case to become the first woman to head the agency. Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site.

This is Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California questioning Haspel.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Do you believe that the previous interrogation techniques were immoral?

GINA HASPEL: Senator, I believe that CIA officers to whom you referred --

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: It's a yes-or-no answer. Do you believe the previous interrogation techniques were immoral? I'm not asking, "Do you believe they were legal?" I'm asking, "Do you believe they were immoral?"

GINA HASPEL: Senator, I believe that CIA did --

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: It's a yes-or-no answer.

GINA HASPEL: -- extraordinary work to prevent another attack on this country, given the legal tools that we were authorized to use.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS: Please answer yes or no: Do you believe, in hindsight, that those techniques were immoral?

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