Agreeing to the CIA’s cover-up of critical information about Gina Haspel’s background and pushing ahead with this nomination for @CIA director represents a true abdication of the Senate’s oversight role. pic.twitter.com/fWECJk6D8J— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) April 19, 2018
The Central Intelligence Agency just cleared President Donald Trump’s nominee to head the agency, Gina Haspel.
The unprecedented step resulted in declassifying a memo that cleared Haspel of any wrongdoing with respect to the destruction of videotaped evidence of horrendous torture techniques including waterboarding.
The CIA also shed light on some personal details to rehabilitate Haspel's image. The one thing thing they were careful not to mention was how, in 2002, as a clandestine officer, she ran a secret Thai torture prison where two al-Qaida suspects were subjected to waterboarding and other inhumane techniques.
Former CIA deputy director Michael Morell wrote the memo in 2011, which found “no fault” in Haspel’s performance, stating she was following direct orders from her superiors and did not release the cable herself.
The memo was released by the CIA after members of the Senate Intelligence Committee requested for documents on Haspel’s record and her investigative techniques that many referred to as “torture.” The committee members were not happy with the memo, claiming the response from the agency has been “selective.”
“It’s completely unacceptable for the CIA to declassify only material that’s favorable to Gina Haspel, while at the same time stonewalling our efforts to declassify all documents related to her involvement in the torture program. The CIA has not been forthcoming. …senators and the public need to know more about her record,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
Ever since Haspel was nominated by Trump as the next director of the CIA, senators of both parties have been concerned by her crucial role in heinous interrogation techniques with Republican Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain both opposing her nomination. No Democrat has come forward to show support for Haspel either.
The CIA deputy director is set to face the Senate Intelligence Committee in May for her impending confirmation hearing. With her hearing date less than a month away, many question the memo release by the CIA.
According to The Washington Post, one former CIA official called out the agency for running a campaign to rehabilitate Haspel’s image.
The CIA is notorious for keeping documents from general public and the sudden release of the memo days before Haspel’s confirmation hearing has raised many eyebrows.
“The timing of its release devalues this document. Since it’s coming out now, it looks like it’s being released in a self-interested effort to help one of their own ascend to the directorship,” a CIA veteran told told The Washington Post.
In the memo, Morell stated Haspel “acted appropriately” and the Justice Department looked into the cable and no charges were filed at the time.
The memo will likely not be enough for the senators since Haspel’s record is not the only thing under investigation. She will also be grilled about her inclination to use inhumane torture techniques and her support in destroying videotaped evidence, despite not ordering it directly.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) conveyed his dissatisfaction from the memo, claiming it raised questions about Haspel rather than answering them.
Morell stated in the memo Haspel drafted the cable top destroy the video under direct orders from former director of the National Clandestine Service, Jose Rodriguez. He was apparently worried the tapes if leaked or released would tarnish CIA’s reputation and “degrade” the agency’s “operational capabilities.”
The disparity in the memo is evident, the CIA’s unofficial PR campaign to clear Haspel of all the dubious circumstances around her nomination is as shocking as it is rare.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: CIA/Handout via Reuters