Gina Haspel Almost Thought Better Of Her CIA Nomination, But Then Trump Thought Better Of Her Thinking Better Of It
Gina Haspel, Donald Trump's nominee to head the CIA, almost threw in the water-soaked towel over a prisoner's face Friday when she met with White House officials, telling them she worried her involvement with the CIA's torture program might reflect badly on the agency. The White House was able to reassure her that torture is perfectly fine, and frankly a welcome relief from all the fake Russia stuff plaguing the administration. It is not known whether Trump promised her she could waterboard some journalists if she'd agree to stick with the nomination process.
According to four "senior U.S. officials" who spoke to the Washington Post,
Haspel told the White House she was interested in stepping aside if it avoided the spectacle of a brutal confirmation hearing on Wednesday and potential damage to the CIA’s reputation and her own, the officials said. She was summoned to the White House on Friday for a meeting on her history in the CIA’s controversial interrogation program — which employed techniques such as waterboarding that are widely seen as torture — and signaled that she was going to withdraw her nomination. She then returned to CIA headquarters, the officials said.
Donald Trump, who was in Dallas reassuring gun humpers that he shared their enthusiasm for shooty things, reportedly called the White House to check in on Haspel's discussions with his advisers. In typical Trumpian fashion, he initially said he'd support whatever decision she made, but later decided he wanted her to keep pushing for confirmation. Especially if she can win.
Haspel's nomination has been controversial because not all Americans are convinced of the obvious morality and efficacy of torture, even though it's really cool to inflict pain on people under your control. Haspel oversaw a CIA black site in Thailand where prisoners were waterboarded, and was later involved in giving orders to destroy videotaped evidence -- nearly 100 videotapes -- of the torture inflicted on two high-profile al Qaeda detainees. Remember, that was all perfectly legal, because Bush administration lawyers wrote memos explaining it was legal.
WaPo says Haspel was called in to discuss how she planned to handle questions from senators about her involvement with the torture program, although they were surprised when she said she was considering withdrawing herself from consideration. The report adds that
Some records from the interrogation program, including documents that haven’t been made public, show that Haspel was an enthusiastic supporter of what the CIA was doing, according to officials familiar with the matter. But others have disputed any characterization of Haspel as some kind of cheerleader of the harsh treatment of detainees and noted that the program was authorized by the president, deemed legal by administration lawyers and briefed to members of Congress.all for the worst stuff we can think of, because we're America and we can do what we want.
The sociopath in chief took to Twitter this morning to explain that Democrats who think torture is bad simply don't love America, and why do they suddenly hate a strong woman who only tortured people enthusiastically because it was her duty?
My highly respected nominee for CIA Director, Gina Haspel, has come under fire because she was too tough on Terrorists. Think of that, in these very dangerous times, we have the most qualified person, a woman, who Democrats want OUT because she is too tough on terror. Win Gina!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2018
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders offered her own unique take on why Haspel must be confirmed: It would be sexist not to.
There is no one more qualified to be the first woman to lead the CIA than 30+ year CIA veteran Gina Haspel. Any Democrat who claims to support women’s empowerment and our national security but opposes her nomination is a total hypocrite— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) May 5, 2018
That's a strangely politically correct argument for confirming a torturer. Or at least someone who was happily torture-adjacent.
Thank goodness Haspel has already pledged she'll oppose any effort to resume the torture program. We sure hope some senators will ask her Wednesday how vigorously she'd resist an order from the "president" to resume waterboarding -- and "a hell of a lot worse."
We're a tad less reassured by administration officials who assured the AP that Haspel
was not the “architect” of the program, but a “line officer” who never interrogated any terrorism suspects.
She never personally tortured anyone, she was only relaying orders. And helping with the destruction of evidence. See? Perfectly ready to keep America safe.
As a reminder of just what that torture program involved, we'd like to direct you to this Twitter thread reviewing some lowlights from the Senate's report on the CIA program -- and this is just the stuff that was declassified:
Folks who haven't read the SSCI and other torture reports probably aren't aware just how fucking dark they are.— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 7, 2018
For example, here's a CIA psychologist threatening a detainee with a power drill. pic.twitter.com/nfkZrJO2wQ
Here's a CIA cable report saying they have serious reservations because they keep being asked to torture a detainee but they think he's been truthful and have no reason to believe he's withholding any further information pic.twitter.com/JmmvRhT65x— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 7, 2018
Not everyone survived. Gul Rahman died in custody of hypothermia. When he died he was naked from the waist down on a cold concrete floor, and shackled so as to prevent him from getting warm. pic.twitter.com/cHUzPK842J— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 7, 2018
Gul Raman was also subjected to cold showers, but the IG report was unable to tell whether that was deliberate, so let's not get too judgy here. Remember, very bad man, too, so his dying in custody was no big.
This is what it was like. Argue it was necessary if you want, but know what it means to argue that, and own what it means to say a detainee should be put in a box, assaulted, threatened with a drill, and have water poured on his face to suffocate him until he vomits and spasms. pic.twitter.com/TwWIARU1Jd— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 7, 2018
Some of the other techniques used in the EIT program pic.twitter.com/HaAlGgmznU— Pwn All The Things (@pwnallthethings) May 7, 2018
After all, as everyone knows, there's no way to protect America without torture, even if it's one of the main recruiting tools for terrorists. Okay, sure maybe interrogators who got actionable, far more reliable intelligence without torture might not agree, but would you really want to trust the word of someone who isn't willing to torture people into saying anything to stop the torture?
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.