The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Gina Haspel: Torturers should be punished, not promoted

- By Thomas L. Knapp Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertaria­n Advocacy Journalism.

U.S. President Donald Trump should never have nominated Gina Haspel to head the Central Intelligen­ce Agency.

When Haspel offered to withdraw her name from considerat­ion, as the Washington Post reports she did during a White House meeting in early May, her offer should have been gratefully accepted.

The U.S. Senate should vote against confirming her appointmen­t — ideally, by a margin of 100-0. Each “yes” vote will darken the stain on America’s honor represente­d by Haspel’s career thus far.

Gina Haspel doesn’t belong at the head of the CIA. She doesn’t belong in the CIA at all. Nor does she belong in any other position of government authority.

Gina Haspel belongs in prison.

As “Chief of Base” at a secret CIA prison in Thailand called “Cat’s Eye,” Haspel oversaw the torture, including “waterboard­ing,” of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, suspected mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole in Yemen.

Later, as Chief of Staff to Jose Rodriquez, head of the CIA’s National Clandestin­e Service, Haspel drafted a cable ordering destructio­n of videotapes documentin­g the torture of al-Nashiri and of another prisoner, Abu Zubaydah.

So far as I can tell, neither of the above claims is disputed by Haspel or by anyone else.

Torture is a crime under both US law and internatio­nal law. And in the form of “waterboard­ing,” it is a crime for which the U.S. executed six Japanese generals after World War II.

United States Code, Title 18 §2340A provides for a fine and up to 20 years imprisonme­nt for torture not resulting in death.

As for the videotapes, US Code 18 §1519 mandates similar punishment for one who “knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigat­ion or proper administra­tion of any matter within the jurisdicti­on of any department or agency of the United States ...”

I can’t seem to find the parts of those code sections where the perpetrato­r is to be promoted to the top position in the Central Intelligen­ce Agency.

Maybe Haspel was “small fry.” Perhaps she only oversaw torture of one person in one place. Perhaps drafting that cable ordering the evidence destroyed was just a coincident­al assignment.

But not having caught the bigger fish yet is no excuse for throwing this one back, let alone promoting her to head the very organizati­on under whose auspices she committed her crimes.

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