Central Intelligence Agency pick Haspel says she won't 'judge' whether waterboarding was wrong

The agency learned "tough lessons" during "that tumultuous time", Haspel said, and that theexperiencereinforced her "personal commitment, clearly and without reservation", not to restart the CIA's detention and interrogation program.

What Haspel now says she wouldn't do sounds a whole lot like what Haspel did do, so far as we can tell with limited information: Carry out a program of ineffective, inhumane and illegal interrogation, under the cover of flimsy, technical legality. Her refusal to acknowledge torture's immorality is disqualifying.

"What I believe sitting here today is that I support the higher moral standard we have made a decision to hold ourselves", said the agency nominee.

He said suspected 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed personally beheaded Pearl and published the video. The 500-page unclassified version of the report found that the activities led by Haspel at a Central Intelligence Agency black site codenamed "Cat's Eye" in Thailand included locking prisoners for prolonged periods in boxes as small as 21 inches wide, 2.5 feet deep and 2.5 feet high; "walling", or slamming their backs and heads repeatedly into a wall; and water boarding, a technique where water is poured through a cloth placed over the victim's mouth and nose, inducing drowning.

"Unbelievable, despicable and disgusting", Hannity said in characterizing the entire ordeal. In a deposition, Mitchell recounted demonstrating some of the "enhanced interrogation techniques" for then-CIA-director George Tenet.

"Ms. Haspel's role in overseeing the use of torture by Americans is disturbing", McCain said in a statement late Wednesday.

On Wednesday, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., threw in his support for Haspel.


Here's a classic argument from Republicans that Haspel's role was much ado about nothing: "We shouldn't be talking about what happened 17 years ago", said Sen. The Senators are also being limited in what they can ask Haspel about. Ms. Haspel said: "I would not allow C.I.A.to undertake activity that I thought is immoral, even if it is technically legal". But what would she do if Trump asked her to waterboard someone anyway, senators wanted to know. If confirmed, Haspel would become the first woman to lead the agency in its history - a fact that GOP members of the intelligence panel mentioned frequently.

Her leadership ability, and the idea that her promise to disobey torture orders if Trump gives them, are both in serious doubt.

"Senator, I believe that we should hold ourselves to the moral standard outlined in the Army Field Manual", Haspel responded.

Although McCain is unlikely to cast a floor vote on Haspel, as he is out of Washington receiving treatment for a rare and serious form of brain cancer, his opinion carries particular symbolic weight, as a war hero who was tortured in Vietnam. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Haspel's only other Republican critic, warning that if he opposed Haspel, he was standing with al-Qaida. "I believe the Senate should exercise its duty of advice and consent and reject this nomination".

Many Democrats have also spoken out against her nomination.

Haspel didn't talk about ultimatums or engage in hypotheticals about storming out of the Oval Office or offering her resignation.

  • Gwendolyn Kim