Gina Haspel Stonewalls on Discussing Her Role in CIA Torture
Trump’s CIA pick once ran a secret prison. Now she doesn’t want to talk about it.
Spencer Ackerman 05.09.18 3:38 PM ET". . . Haspel, from October to early December 2002, ran a CIA black site in Thailand where, while she supervised it, interrogators tortured Abdul Rahim al-Nashiri—“immediately upon his arrival,” according to the CIA inspector general. Former top CIA lawyer John Rizzo, in a 2014 memoir penned before it was at all controversial, wrote that Haspel, as of 2005, had “previously run the interrogation program,” only to retract that statement after The Daily Beast called attention to it (and after he himself had reaffirmed his confidence in it). Haspel, reacting to that, twice told senators: “I did not run the interrogation department. In fact, I was not even read into the interrogation program until it had been up and running for a year.”
It was a curious and precise formulation, not least of which because there has never been known to be any entity inside the CIA called “the interrogation department.”
“The CIA has a serious, pervasive and corrosive accountability problem,” said Dan Jones, a former FBI counterterrorism analyst, the lead investigator for the Senate torture report and the resultant subject of CIA spying. “No one is ever sanctioned for wrongdoing, even when the CIA itself acknowledges gross misconduct.”
Haspel’s defiant tone crescendoed as the hearing persisted. In written answers to the committee about her time at the CIA Counterterrorism Center, which operated the torture program, Haspel would not give any public response beyond saying she was a Deputy Group Chief from 2001-2003 and later a Senior-Level Supervisor from 2003-2004—without saying what her responsibilities were (PDF). (It was during that time that she ran the black site.) Asked by Maine independent Angus King if she was ever in a “supervisory” or “management” position over the torture program, Haspel said, “we’ll be able to go over any of my classified assignments in classified session.”