May 16, 2018

Word: Torturer nears confirmation

David Corn, Mother Jones - The nomination of Gina Haspel to be President Donald Trump’s CIA director has become something of a referendum on torture. Not so much on the use of torture in the here-and-now. Even though Trump in 2016 called for re-deploying torture against terrorist suspects, Haspel, a longtime CIA official who was involved in the agency’s use of waterboarding in the post-9/11 period, stated during her confirmation hearings that now she does not support resorting to torture and that she accepts “the higher moral standard.” But when testifying, Haspel refused to concede that the Bush-Cheney embrace of waterboarding and other forms of torture had been immoral. In essence, she would not acknowledge the CIA had taken a terrible turn. “The American public sips its coffee and reads of its soldiers administering the ‘water cure’…and remarks, ‘How very unpleasant!’ It then butters its bread.”

That is what’s at the heart of her confirmation process. Despite Trump’s rhetoric, the question is not the revival of torture but the admission that the United States had been wrong to employ it, even during the collective freakout following the horrific 9/11 attacks. Haspel ran a CIA facility in Thailand where waterboarding had occurred, and she played a role in the now controversial destruction of videotapes of waterboarding sessions. (The tapes were destroyed, though CIA lawyers and White House officials had not approved.) The Senate vote on her nomination is scheduled for Wednesday. And throughout her confirmation, she has walked the fine line between rejecting future torture and justifying its past use.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Aaaaand that's the David Corn who wrote a book about the CIA without discovering so much as a dime bag of blow (RIP, Alex Cockburn).

Liberals have always been more dangerous than whatever strain of reactionary/conservative/fascist is on tap. Errors can be mended, but faux outrage and selective collaboration are treasonous.