Based on her intelligence, experience, demeanor, and capacity, I think Gina Haspel is the right person to be CIA Director. I was impressed with her testimony during confirmation hearings. I agree with her that "the C.I.A.'s post-Sept. 11 interrogation program " did damage to our officers and our standing in the world. "
I do not equivocate on denouncing torture. Torture is the resort of the unskilled interrogator, the desperate, the sadistic and the cruel. I do not defend the policy of implementing Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) post 9/11, nor rendition (all renditions are, btw, extraordinary) to black sites, but I understand why they were implemented.
Arguments about their effectiveness are to me moot because, as I have written, in the long run torture does far more harm to the torturer. It should never be U.S. policy.
As to the role DCI Haspel in running a black site prison while EITs were in practice. At the time, EITs were the law, and EITS were not considered torture. One can debate how severe or mild the EITs werecompared to other forms of torture routinely practiced in other parts of the world, but that begins to defend EITs in I ways I personally do not wish to defend them. It is straightforward enough to assert that they were the law and sanctioned by the DOJ as part of the post-9/11 reaction of a desperate, hurting, fearful and angry nation.
While EITs were policy it was the CIA and officers within the CIA who led the push-back against use of EITs and lobbied for a reversal of DOJ policy and their eventual discard.
Many people missed — or for partisan reasons chose to overlook an important retraction by ProPublica < https://www.propublica.org/article/cia-cables-detail-its-new-deputy-directors-role-in-torture > 'Trump's Pick to Head CIA Did Not Oversee Waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah.' ProPublica admitted that it erred when it reported in 2017 that Haspel was in charge of a secret prison in Thailand during the interrogation of al-Qaida suspect Abu Zubaydah during which EITs, including repeated waterboarding, were used.
On February 9, 2018. the NYT also falsely repeatedly reported that Haspel was in charge during the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/02/us/politics/cia-deputy-director-gina-haspel-torture-thailand.html >.
On 16 March, 2018, the day after ProPublica retracted its reporting of Haspel's role, and more than a month after its initial reporting, the NYT also retracted its reporting that Haspel was in charge of the prison (which closed in December 2002 shortly after Haspel arrived to take charge) during the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah
The NYT also reported that Haspel was in charge during the interrogation of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashir-the accused bomber of the USS Cole in 2000 who killed 17 U.S. Sailors and injured nearly 40 more-who was allegedly waterboarded three times. Haspel did not assume command at the Thailand prison until after the waterboarding of Zubaydah had ended.
ProPublica's retraction also made clear that allegations that Haspel had "mocked the prisoner's suffering in a private conversation" were also false. (more)