A Failure of Accountability Made Gina Haspel's Nomination Possible

Curt Wechsler | March 17, 2018

Few people have paid a professional price for involvement in America's torture program, notes Rogue Justice author Karen Greenberg. John Yoo, the author of the infamous 2002 memos declaring torture legal, remains a tenured professor at Berkeley. Steven Bradbury, who authorized "enhanced" interrogation techniques, now serves as General Counsel of the United States Department of Transportation. Disgraced Attorney General Alberto Gonzales eventually landed a job as Dean of Belmont University College of Law, in Nashville, Tennessee, where he currently teaches Constitutional Law. Former Bush and Obama administrators found senior posts in business and academia (universities, think tanks, foundations, corporations, law firms) and serve to arbiter public opinion on the crimes of the Trump/Pence regime. 

The President's selection of Haspel for CIA director "is a slap in the face to those who embrace the rule of law," says Greenberg. It "was not a casual gesture. It reveals a stubborn defiance of civilized norms about permissability of torture, and builds upon the indefensible secrecy that still surrounds the program." But it could prompt a public reckoning with the nominee's administration of one of the most notorious of the CIA's "black sites," in Thailand, known as Detention Site Green, where the most brutal interrogations of two suspected al-Qaeda operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri took place. 

"Bloody Gina" also played a role in destroying videotaped evidence of what occurred at that site. Former CIA counterterrorism officer John Kiriakou recounts the torture: "They waterboarded Abu Zubaida 83 times. They later subjected him to sleep deprivation; they kept him locked in a large dog cage for weeks at a time; they locked him in a coffin-size box and, knowing that he had an irrational fear of insects, put bugs in it with him."  

The confirmation hearings for Trump's CIA pick should prompt an examination and unequivocal repudiation of torture policies uncovered by the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into the CIA's post-9/11 program of detention. "We must condemn the deceptions that have been visited upon the American people," says Greenberg. "Only when the details are made public will the country be able to accept responsibility for what happened, to declare it wrong, and in so doing to move forward -- decisively away from torture."


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