What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 16, 2018

Torture Is Immoral. Covering It Up, Also Immoral

From the Washington Post:
President Trump on Tuesday chose CIA veteran Gina Haspel to be the spy agency’s next director, picking a woman who spent multiple tours overseas and is respected by the workforce but is deeply tied to the agency’s use of brutal interrogation measures on terrorism suspects.

Back to the WaPost:
Haspel was in charge of one of the CIA’s “black site” prisons where detainees were subjected to waterboarding and other harrowing interrogation measures widely condemned as torture.

When those methods were exposed and their legality came under scrutiny, Haspel was among a group of CIA officials involved in the decision to destroy videotapes of interrogation sessions that left some detainees on the brink of physical collapse.
Torture and then covering up the torture.

Before we proceed, there's a necessary correction of the word "detainees" in that first paragraph. Propublica has it:
On Feb. 22, 2017, ProPublica published a story that inaccurately described Gina Haspel’s role in the treatment of Abu Zubaydah, a suspected al-Qaida leader who was imprisoned by the CIA at a secret “black site” in Thailand in 2002.

The story said that Haspel, a career CIA officer who President Trump has nominated to be the next director of central intelligence, oversaw the clandestine base where Zubaydah was subjected to waterboarding and other coercive interrogation methods that are widely seen as torture. The story also said she mocked the prisoner’s suffering in a private conversation. Neither of these assertions is correct and we retract them. It is now clear that Haspel did not take charge of the base until after the interrogation of Zubaydah ended.
The New York Times, which also reported last year that Haspel oversaw the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah and another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, published a second story this week making the same point. It quoted an unnamed former senior CIA official who said Haspel did not become base chief until late October of 2002. According to the Times, she was in charge when al-Nashiri was waterboarded three times. [Emphasis added.]
The use of the plural "detainees" is inaccurate as she was only in charge during the waterboarding of one person, not more than one. This, however, does not change the fact that Haspell was in charge when al-Nashiri was waterboarded.

So that's still torture, just less of it.

We've written extensively about how torture is a war crime. Gina Haspel oversaw a prison where one human being was tortured. Even if she was just following orders, the Geneva Convention states:
No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture. (Part 1, Article 2, Sections 2-3)
She's a war criminal. Everyone in the chain of command above her is a war criminal.

Then there's the cover-up.

From Frontline:
When news of the ["enhanced interrogation"]program was first published in the Washington Post in 2005, Jose Rodriguez, who at the time ran the agency’s Counterterrorism Center, grew concerned that the videotapes might be made public.

“I was told if those videotapes had ever been seen, the reaction around the world would not have been survivable,” Jane Mayer, a New Yorker reporter, told FRONTLINE. “So the CIA is in a panic. They’ve got these red-hot videotapes on their hands.”

As Rodriguez later wrote in his memoir, in 2005, Haspel, then his chief of staff, “drafted a cable” at his direction ordering that the tapes be destroyed. Then, he said, he “took a deep breath of weary satisfaction and hit Send.”
Covering up the torture.

I don't think this will make much of a difference to Trump or his true-believers. He thinks he can just bring back torture by executive fiat as well as order the deaths of suspected terrorists' families.

Torture is immoral. Torture is illegal. Prosecute the torture.

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