US president Trump’s nominee for CIA director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire recently.
While some were initially excited about the prospect of getting the first female CIA head, though its kind of of hard to be excited about anything the CIA does, many of these feelings were quickly washed away by an avalanche of negative press.
One of the disqualifiers for Haspel as CIA head, though very in keeping with the CIA brand, is that in the early 2000s she oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand, code-named “Cat’s Eye.” Not only did she run this secret detention center, but she also oversaw instances of physical torture.
While in command of the covert operation, she oversaw at least one instance of waterboarding of prisoner Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, according to the New York Times. Being that it is a “secret” site, it is hard to determine the exact number of individuals that she allowed, or encouraged, to be tortured.
Though this is not all, she went one step further. She also was a proponent of destroying the tapes of this torture. This seems odd if it is just “enhanced interrogation, and she clearly felt no shame over it.
This should disgust any moral individual, however, as we know, it is right up Trump’s alley. As many may recall, the current US president called for more instances of torture when he was on the campaign trail, so it should come as no surprise that he would nominate someone with such a detestable past.
It seems that she may have an uphill battle when it comes to her nomination though. Even though the only republican to date who has said that they will vote against her confirmation is Rand Paul, his fellow Senator, John McCain, a victim of torture himself, has also voiced his concerns about Haspel.
In addition the US Senate currently only has 51 Republicans, in contrast to 47 Democrats and 2 Independents. This will also make the climb more difficult with members of the Republicans already directly opposed or skeptical about her nomination. To make matters worse for the potential appointee, she is also under fire by various human rights groups around the globe, most notably in Europe.
In Germany, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR) has logged complaints with the federal prosecutor of Germany to delve deeper into the issue of Haspel’s torture. Many in Europe are debating whether alleged perpetrators of torture should even be allowed into their countries without being arrested for war crimes.
This is in large part due to the US being a signatory to the UN convention against torture, of which it is clearly and regularly in violation of. The UN is another body that could also bring Haspel down, however, this would be much more difficult.
Being that the only confirmed time that Haspel oversaw acts such as waterboarding was in Thailand, she may get off under UN law. This is due to the fact that Thailand is not a member of the International Criminal Court, only a signatory. Though, if she is found to have overseen torture in other countries, which is possible, as some suspect she did so in Poland, she could be held liable. Poland contained another such black site, though it is uncertain whether Haspel was involved with its ongoing operations.
In any case, US officials and citizens need to step up and demand more of our government and its agencies. We cannot continue to engage in tactics that are not only evil, but have also been proven to be utterly ineffective at producing viable information.