News Release

Gina Haspel and Torture: * Wrong * Ineffective * A Tool for War

JEREMY VARON, jvaron at aol.com, @witnesstorture
MAHA HILAL, innocentuntilprovenmuslim at gmail.com, @dr_maha_hilal
Human rights groups will rally outside the Hart Senate Office Building from 8:30-9:30 AM on Wednesday, May 9 in opposition to Gina Haspel’s nomination to head the Central Intelligence Agency. Some will be in the iconic detainee “uniform” of orange jumpsuits and black hoods. “The choice of Haspel to head the CIA is dead wrong,” says Jeremy Varon of Witness Against Torture. “It says that even in the United States you can literally get away with torture, which must warm the dark hearts of torturers everywhere in the world. Haspel must be stopped.” “Haspel was present at the start of the post-9/11 War on Terror that has targeted Muslims almost exclusively and which continues to this day,” says Dr. Maha Hilal of the Justice for Muslims Collective.

RAY McGOVERN, rrmcgovern at gmail.com, @raymcgovern
McGovern served as an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then as a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years. He helped prepare daily briefings for presidents from John F. Kennedy to George H.W. Bush. He just wrote the piece “Will a Torturer Become CIA Director?” at Consortium News and signed two statements by former intelligence officers: “VIPS Call on Senate Intel Panel to Vote Against Haspel” and “Trump Should Withdraw Haspel Nomination, Intel Vets Say,” which states: “In 2002 Haspel supervised the first CIA ‘black site’ for interrogation, where cruel and bizarre forms of torture were applied to suspected terrorists. And when the existence of 92 videotapes of those torture sessions was revealed, Haspel signed a cable ordering their destruction, against the advice of legal counsel at CIA and the White House. …

“In addition to revealing clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture, the Senate investigation shows that claims by senior CIA officials that torture is effective are far from true. The U.S. Army — in which many of us have served — has been aware of the ineffectiveness of torture for decades.

“General John Kimmons, head of Army Intelligence, drove home that point on September 6, 2006 — approximately an hour before President George W. Bush publicly extolled the virtues of torture methods that became known as ‘enhanced interrogation techniques.’ Gen. Kimmons stated: ‘No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices. I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the last five years — hard years — tell us that.’ We believe that Defense Secretary James Mattis’ lack of enthusiasm for torture reflects lessons drawn from the historical experience of the Marine Corps, as well.”

SAM HUSSEINI, samhusseini at gmail.com, @samhusseini
Senior analyst at the Institute for Public Accuracy, Husseini just wrote the piece “Gina Haspel and Torture: Not Just Immoral, but a Tool for More War,” which states: “Especially given how little we know about Haspel’s record — it’s possible that there’s an even more insidious motive in the U.S. government practicing torture: To produce the rigged case for more war. Examining this possibility is made all the more urgent as Trump has put in place what clearly appears to be a war cabinet. My recent questioning at the State Department failed to produce a condemnation of waterboarding by spokesperson Heather Nauert.

“Gina Haspel’s hearing on Wednesday gives increased urgency to highlighting her record on torture and how torture has been ‘exploited.’ That is, how torture was used to create ‘intelligence’ for select policies, including the initiation of war.

“Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, has stated that neither he nor Powell were aware that the claims that Powell made before the UN just before the invasion of Iraq where partly based on torture. According to Wilkerson, Dick Cheney and the CIA prevailed on Powell to make false statements about a connection between Al-al-Qa’ida and Iraq without telling him the ‘evidence’ they were feeding him was based on tortured evidence. See my piece and questioning of Powell: ‘Colin Powell Showed that Torture DOES Work.’

“The 2014 Senate torture report noted (in an obscure footnote) the case Wilkerson speaks of: ‘Ibn Shaykh al-Libi’ stated while in Egyptian custody and clearly being tortured that ‘Iraq was supporting al-Qa’ida and providing assistance with chemical and biological weapons. Some of this information was cited by Secretary Powell in his speech at the United Nations, and was used as a justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Ibn Shaykh al-Libi recanted the claim after he was rendered to CIA custody on February [censored], 2003, claiming that he had been tortured by the [censored, likely “Egyptians”], and only told them what he assessed they wanted to hear.'”