Without Calling It Immoral, Haspel Says Torture Program ‘Did Damage’ To CIA

WASHINGTON, May 9, 2018 -- Gina Haspel, nominee for Director of Central Intelligence Agency, testifies at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., the United States, on May 9, 2018. (Xinhua/Ting Shen)
Xinhua News Agency/Xinhua News Agency

CIA director nominee Gina Haspel wrote Monday that the agency’s so-called “enhanced interrogation” program, also known as torture, “is not one the CIA should have undertaken.”

“While I won’t condemn those that made these hard calls, and I have noted the valuable intelligence collected, the program ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world,” Haspel wrote in a letter to the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). CNN obtained and published the letter.

Haspel was criticized following her confirmation hearing last week for refusing to say whether the United States’ use of torture following the September 11, 2001 attacks was immoral, instead asserting that “I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to.”

“As Director,” she wrote in her letter to Warner on Monday, “I would refuse to undertake any proposed activity that is contrary to my moral and ethical values.”

She still has not defined what those values are.

Haspel became the chief of base at a Thai black site in 2002. Though she was not in charge during the now infamous repeated waterboarding of detainee Abu Zubaydah, she was in charge when another detainee, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, was reportedly slammed against a wall, locked in a tiny “confinement box” and waterboarded while in the CIA’s custody, according to CIA documents reviewed and published recently by ProPublica.

Haspel also later wrote, on the orders of a superior, the cable instructing staff at the black site to destroy tapes of the interrogations of al-Nashiri and Zubaydah. CIA Deputy Director Mike Morell, in a 2011 review, found no fault on Haspel’s part.

In a New York Times op-ed last week, Fatima Boudchar wrote that the black site led by Haspel “sounds like the one where I was tortured” in 2004.

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