On Capitol Hill, President Trump’s nominee to head the CIA, Gina Haspel, repeatedly refused Wednesday to call the CIA’s post-9/11 treatment of prisoners “torture,” and declined to state whether she believes torture is immoral. CIA Deputy Director Haspel’s comments came in testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee as she made her case to become CIA director.
Haspel is a 33-year CIA veteran who was responsible for running a secret CIA black site in Thailand in 2002, where at least one prisoner was waterboarded and tortured in other ways during her tenure. Haspel also oversaw the destruction of videotapes showing torture at the black site. This is Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California questioning Haspel.
Sen. Kamala Harris: “Do you believe, in hindsight, that those techniques were immoral?”
Gina Haspel: “Senator, what I believe, sitting here today, is that I support the higher moral standard we have decided to hold ourselves to.”
Sen. Kamala Harris: “Can you please answer the question?”
Gina Haspel: “Senator, I think I’ve answered the question.”
Sen. Kamala Harris: “No, you’ve not.”
Gina Haspel’s hearing was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, including members of the group CodePink, who shouted “Bloody Gina! You are a torturer!” and other slogans, as they were hauled out of the hearing by Capitol Police.
Tighe Barry: “Stop torture! Stop torture! Stop torture! Gina, stop the torture! Gina Haspel is a torturer!”
CodePink protester: “Stop crucifying Muslims! Stop crucifying Muslims!”
Among those arrested was Ray McGovern, a 78-year-old retired CIA officer, whose arm was reportedly dislocated after he was thrown to the ground by officers.
Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul has said he will vote against Haspel, but she appears headed for confirmation after two senators considered swing votes said Wednesday they would vote for her. We’ll have more on Gina Haspel after headlines with journalist Jeremy Scahill.