Shortly after announcing that he had removed Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo, President Trump also elevated the CIA’s Deputy Director, Gina Haspel to become the first female head of the American spy agency.
Though most outside of Washington have never heard of Haspel, her fingerprints are all over one of the CIA’s most controversial decisions: Torturing terror suspects in an effort to obtain information from them.
In February of last year, when Haspel was appointed as Deputy Director, the New York Times reported:
“[Haspel] played a direct role in the C.I.A.’s ‘extraordinary rendition program,’ under which captured militants were handed to foreign governments and held at secret facilities, where they were tortured by agency personnel.
“The C.I.A.’s first overseas detention site was in Thailand. It was run by Ms. Haspel, who oversaw the brutal interrogations of two detainees, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.”
Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times. His head was also rammed into a wall repeatedly and he lost sight in one eye as a result of his mistreatment.
Those torture sessions were videotaped, but when requests were made by Congress for the tapes, it was revealed that the CIA had destroyed the recordings. Haspel, who was already working at agency headquarters, was reportedly the official who took the lead on the destruction of the videos.
Also last February, when she was promoted by the Trump administration, some Democrats in the Senate strongly objected to Haspel being placed in a position of authority. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) commented at the time:
“I am especially concerned by reports that this individual was involved in the unauthorized destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, which documented the CIA’s use of torture against two CIA detainees. My colleagues Senators Wyden and Heinrich have stated that classified information details why the newly appointed Deputy Director is ‘unsuitable’ for the position and have requested that this information be declassified. I join their request.”
Trump has repeatedly said he believes in the use of torture and other “enhanced interrogation” methods on terror suspects. And apparently he now has a CIA chief who not only shares his beliefs, but has played an instrumental role in implementing such reprehensible policies.
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