Trump Should Withdraw Haspel Nomination, Intel Vets Say

More than two dozen former U.S. intelligence officers urge President Trump to rescind Gina Haspel’s nomination to lead the CIA, citing torture that she oversaw while supervising a black site prison, as well as her role in destroying evidence. 

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Request to Withdraw Nomination of Gina Haspel

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

With respect, we veteran intelligence officers from CIA and other agencies urge you to withdraw the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director. From what is already known of her leading role in CIA torture 16 years ago, she has disqualified herself.

Gina Haspel

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.

Does Torture ‘Work?’

We are confident that if you set aside some time to read the unredacted portions of the Senate Intelligence Committee report of 2014 on the torture ordered and supervised by Haspel and other CIA managers, you will change your mind about her nomination. The five-year Senate investigation was based primarily on original CIA cables and other sensitive documents.

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 US 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. Not to mention the twin reality that torture brutalizes the brutalizer, and that US use of torture puts our own troops in serious jeopardy when captured. Moreover, there is no more effective recruitment tool than torture to attract more terrorists.

International and Domestic Law

Please also be aware that many signatories to the UN Convention Against Torture take seriously their obligations under the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” which applies when those who authorize or practice torture are not brought to justice by authorities in their home countries.

George W. Bush experienced a precarious brush with this reality in 2011, when he had to abruptly cancel a visit to Geneva, Switzerland, after discovering that plans were in place to arrest him as soon as he stepped onto Swiss soil. [See “America’s Stay-at-Home Ex-President”] The widely respected European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights already has made no secret of its intention to proceed quickly against Haspel, should she set foot in Europe.

We believe that CIA’s activities and general focus have become severely unbalanced, with the lion’s share of funding and energy going to the paramilitary-prone operational side — where the potential for human rights abuses is not given sufficient consideration.

That trend has gone on steroids in more recent decades, and it is a safe bet that Gina Haspel would accelerate it. We would also observe that if most of the talent and funding goes to CIA paramilitary operations, then the by-products will necessarily include a tendency to engage in politically motivated — and therefore shabby — analysis. That means that senior policymakers like you will be poorly informed, particularly with respect to complex world issues — including biased perspectives on Russia and its newly re-elected president, Vladimir Putin.

* * *

We Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) are extremely concerned at the possibility that Gina Haspel might become the next Director of the CIA. Haspel actually supervised a CIA “black site” codenamed “Cat’s Eye” in Thailand where a number of suspected terrorists were tortured. She subsequently collaborated in destroying all 92 videotapes of the torture sessions, effectively covering up what were likely serious war crimes.

There should be no question about the illegality of torture. It has been universally condemned and banned by both the Geneva Conventions and United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 and ratified by the Senate in 1994.

The UN Convention defines torture “as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him, or a third person, information or a confession…” and makes clear that “no exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.”

The Convention’s Article 2 requires signatories to take effective measures to prevent torture in any territory under their jurisdiction. The complete prohibition of torture is absolute.  Under international law, officials cannot receive immunity in cases involving torture and governments that have signed the Convention are obligated to bring torturers to justice.  US domestic law was brought in line with the Convention once the US became a signatory and ratified it.

A prisoner is tortured at Abu Ghraib prison. The detainee “GUS” has a strap around his neck and is being pulled from his cell as a form of intimidation. US Army Reserve Soldier Lynndie England is holding the leash while soldier Megan Ambuhl watches. Specialist Charles A. Graner is taking the picture. (Wikipedia)

In the wake of the Abu Ghraib revelations, torture, to include its variations that have been euphemistically described as “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EIT), is now explicitly banned by the US military in its training manuals. A number of soldiers were tried and imprisoned in the wake of Abu Ghraib, although the “upper ranks” — in civilian as well as military spheres — who approved torture managed to escape serious consequences.

Some in the Pentagon clearly took seriously allegations of torture and were willing to file criminal charges against those involved, though Department of Defense leadership never saw fit to assume responsibility for having set up a policy environment that quite clearly condoned EIT.

There is also another significant historical and legal precedent that demonstrates that the United States government has by its own actions agreed that what is today being called “enhanced interrogation” is a war crime. In 1946-1948, Japanese officers who tortured Allied soldiers — including what is now referred to as waterboarding — were tried at the Tokyo post-war tribunals for that crime, found guilty, and executed.

Heinous

More recently, the meticulously documented unclassified 528 page Executive Summary of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on the CIA’s secret Rendition, Detention and Interrogation (RDI) program is remarkable for its candor. That five-year investigation was based on original CIA cables and other documents.

In blunt language, the Senate report describes the horrors of the black site secret prisons and the efforts that were made to get terrorist suspects to talk. It demonstrates that the interrogations were brutal — worse than anyone had been led to believe — and also that they did not produce any information that might not have been developed otherwise or, in many cases, any actionable intelligence whatsoever. The full classified text of the report — which names names of the actual torture perpetrators redacted in the summary — runs to almost 7,000 pages.

Moreover, coercive interrogation frequently produced misleading or fabricated intelligence that wasted resources by having to be meticulously checked before being used.  This conclusion was also arrived at by former FBI interrogator Ali Soufan — who deplored CIA methods — as well as by a review conducted by CIA’s then-Inspector General (IG), John Helgerson, in 2004. The “Helgerson Report” condemned both CIA leadership and Langley’s on-the-ground management of questionable programs driven by “analytical assessments that were unsupported by credible intelligence” — programs which quickly became abusive.

It is our collective judgment that the loathsome physical abuses that included beatings, repeated waterboardings and anal violations referred to as “rectal feeding” — as well as physical threats to family members — cannot be whitewashed with the convenient euphemism of “enhanced interrogation.” All of those are acts of torture — plain and simple.

And while there are undoubtedly many good moral arguments against torture, there are practical considerations as well. Despite what the media would have Americans believe, torture does not work.

We recall the unambiguous remarks of then-commander of Army intelligence, Gen. John Kimmons, who held a Pentagon press conference on Sept. 6, 2006 — the same day President George W. Bush announced what he called “an alternative set of procedures” for interrogation (which later morphed into the term “enhanced interrogation techniques”). Anticipating that Bush would claim the EITS to be necessary and effective, Gen. Kimmons told the media: “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 —tells us that.”

Colin Powell Mousetrapped by ‘Intelligence’ From Torture

Secretary of State Colin Powell addressed the United Nations on Feb. 5. 2003, citing satellite photos which supposedly proved that Iraq had WMD, but the evidence proved bogus.

Worse still, intelligence officials have used information, which they knew was gained from torture, to mislead the most senior US officials on issues of war and peace. One of the signatories below was eyewitness to how CIA Director George Tenet persuaded Secretary of State Colin Powell to tell the UN of a “sinister nexus” between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Tenet did not tell Powell that this “intelligence” came from a source, Abu Yahya al-Libi, who had been “rendered” to, and waterboarded by, Egyptian intelligence. The Defense Intelligence Agency had deemed this intelligence unreliable, but Tenet chose to ignore DIA and never informed Powell.  Al-Libi recanted less than a year later, admitting that he fabricated the story about Saddam and al-Qaeda in order to stop his torture.

Moreover, when you wink at torture, you motivate enemies of the United States to do the same to captured US soldiers, diplomats and travelers while also providing a propaganda bonanza for terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

Indeed, the only reason why CIA torturers have not been tried and sentenced to prison for the damage they have done to the nation is that an intimidated President Barack Obama — who once proclaimed that “nobody is above the law” — balked at allowing the judicial process to run its course, thereby whitewashing the Bush Administration’s many crimes related to the so-called “global war on terror.” Obama attempted to justify his inaction as looking forward rather than backward, but it is more likely that he feared opening up a Pandora’s Box of shameful government secrets that no doubt would have emerged.

Promoting Haspel in spite of her tainted record would send a message to both intelligence and military personnel that embracing practices like torture — indisputably a war crime — can be a path to promotion.

Haspel’s involvement with torture began when she accepted the assignment to go to Thailand — which she could have turned down — to run the “black site” where the interrogations were being conducted. She was, at the time, the deputy in CIA’s Counter Terrorism Center (CTC), working for Jose Rodriguez.

She was in charge of the secret Thailand base in late 2002 while Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri and possibly more suspects were being tortured in a process that included slamming victims’ heads against walls, subjecting them to painful stress positions, regularly depriving them of sleep, confining them to small, coffin-like boxes, and waterboarding.

The “confinement boxes” were of two types; one was coffin-sized, and the other was smaller and less than waist-high. Both had strong claustrophobic effects. A prisoner would be forced into the smaller box as an extreme form of stress positioning, creating excruciating pain. To maximize psychological distress and exploit phobias, insects were sometimes placed in the pitch-black “coffin” alongside the victim.

Destroying the Evidence

In 2005, after returning to CIA headquarters at Langley, she acted on instructions from Rodriguez and drafted the order to destroy the 92 videotapes that had been made of the interrogations. It has been reported that she was a “strong advocate” for the destruction. This was contrary to instructions provided by CIA Counsel John Rizzo and the White House.  Thus, her act may have constituted destruction of evidence — a felony.

Jose Rodriguez was investigated for destruction of evidence by a Special Prosecutor who eventually ruled against charging him. An aide to CIA Executive Director Kyle “Dusty” Foggo later revealed Rodriguez’s rationale for shredding the tapes, writing in an email that “the heat from destroying [them] is nothing compared with what it would be if the tapes ever got into public domain – he [Rodriguez] said that they would make us look terrible; it would be devastating to us.” Gina Haspel ensured that these tapes — important, damning evidence of US government torture — would never see the light of day.

Haspel’s defenders claim that she was not the creator of the torture program and only served as a willing executor of a government initiative that she believed to be legal. That may be true as no one has access to the CTC documents that might prove otherwise. Nevertheless, it does not provide her a free pass under international law, where it is generally referred to as the “Nuremberg Defense” — a thoroughly discredited “defense” that harkens back to the era of Nazi atrocities and those who attempted to justify them by claiming perpetrators were “just following orders.”

‘Nuremberg Defense’ Didn’t Work at Nuremberg

High-ranking Nazis on trial at Nuremberg

Several former CIA leaders have supported her, saying that she was “implementing the legal orders of the president,” but many of them may be concerned about their own reputations or questionable decisions they may have made in the name of the “war on terror.” And the UN’s International Law Commission says something quite different in its codification of the legal options surrounding torture, writing that “the fact that a person acted pursuant to an order of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”

It is also claimed that Gina Haspel was working for the CIA Chief of Station (COS) in Bangkok and acting under the COS’s orders, but those of us who have worked in and led CIA bases would dispute that that type of tight control was common, particularly since in this case, she was reporting directly to the Counterterrorism Center at Langley. Haspel would have been the boss and would have had independence in the field in executing directives from CIA Headquarters and the Counterterrorism Center — some of which she herself had a hand in drafting.

If Haspel is confirmed and wishes to travel abroad, she may have to restrict herself to countries not party to the UN Convention Against Torture because of her widely known involvement in the “black site” in Thailand. The 42 countries that have signed and ratified the Convention include the US and most of its allies. All take on a legal obligation to enforce the prohibition against torture, based on the principle of “universal jurisdiction,” when necessary.  In other words, they are empowered to act when the accused’s home country refuses to do so.

Not Too Late to Do the Right Thing

If you do not withdraw the nomination of Gina Haspel and she is confirmed, this will cast a moral stain on the vast numbers of patriotic and ethically upright Americans who serve their country in the field of national security. It will also be a continuation of the steady erosion of human rights standards and rule of law post-9/11.

Apparent widespread support for torture among the US public — enabled largely by the false message of Hollywood, the media and the Cheney family that it “works” — is deplorable. It might have been headed off by the prosecutions of Haspel, Rodriguez and others by former President Obama, together with graphic exposure of the evidence. You have an opportunity to reverse this wrong.

Withdrawing Haspel’s nomination now would be a step in the right direction. Confirming her as Director of CIA would signal that Washington embraces what then-Vice President Dick Cheney referred to as the “dark side.” Regrettably, torture was once part of US policy. Indeed, one of this Memorandum’s signatories spent nearly two years in federal prison because he revealed that.  But torture cannot be relied upon to yield accurate intelligence. It remains an internationally condemned malignancy that must be excised, never to return.

* * *

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

Jean Maria Arrigo, PhD, member of 2005 American Psychological Association task force evaluating the role of psychologists in U.S. intelligence and military interrogations of detainees (associate VIPS)

William Binney, former NSA Technical Director for World Geopolitical & Military Analysis; Co-founder of NSA’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center (ret.)

Richard H. Black, Senator of Virginia, 13th District; Colonel US Army (ret.); Former Chief, Criminal Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate General, the Pentagon (associate VIPS)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Bogdan Dzakovic, former Team Leader of Federal Air Marshals and Red Team, FAA Security (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer (ret.)

George Hunsinger, Professor, Princeton Theological Seminary; Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture (associate VIPS)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, USAF (ret.), Intelligence Officer & ex-Master SERE Instructor

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Karen Kwiatkowski, Lt. Col., USAF (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

David MacMichael, Ph.D., former senior estimates officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst; CIA Presidential briefer (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council & CIA political analyst (ret.)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Valerie Plame, former operations officer, CIA (associate VIPS)

Diane Roark, Republican Professional Staff, House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, 1985-2002 (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Greg Thielmann, former Director, Office of Strategic, Political, and Military Affairs, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, State Department; Former staff member, Senate Intelligence Committee

Peter Van Buren, US Department of State, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA

Lawrence Wilkerson, Colonel, US Army (ret.), former Chief of Staff for Secretary of State; Distinguished Visiting Professor, College of William and Mary (associate VIPS)

Sarah G. Wilton, CDR, USNR, (ret.); Defense Intelligence Agency (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer (associate VIPS)

Ann Wright, Colonel, US Army (ret.); also Foreign Service Officer who resigned in opposition to the US war on Iraq

 

* * *

 

ANNEX

 

MEMORANDA from VIPS to President Barack Obama Regarding Torture

 

1 —

US Media Ignores CIA Cover-up on Torture

September 16, 2016

MEMORANDUM FOR: Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Vice Chairman, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: U.S. Media Mum On How Your Committee Faced Down Both CIA and Obama

 

2 —

US Intel Vets Decry CIA’s Use of Torture

September 19, 2015

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Intelligence Veterans Challenge CIA’s “Rebuttal” on Torture

 

3 —

Udall Urged to Disclose Full Torture Report

December 29, 2014

MEMORANDUM FOR: Senator Mark Udall

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Time to Speak Out on Floor of Congress to Stop Torture

 

4 —

https://consortiumnews.com/2009/092809a.html

September 27, 2009

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: There Must be Accountability for Torture

 

5 —

https://consortiumnews.com/2009/042909e.html 

April 29, 2009

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: Torture: An Accumulated Evil (see Nuremberg): John Brennan Publicly Defended “Extraordinary Rendition” Knowing Its Purpose Was Torture

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108 comments for “Trump Should Withdraw Haspel Nomination, Intel Vets Say

  1. Rong Cao
    April 2, 2018 at 11:08 am

    The CIA are good at the psychological war. Maybe the purpose of Ms. Haspel’s nomination is to lay foundations for the real appointee whose past behaviors has been just as outrageous as hers. But there would be no risk of any perpetrators or logistic workers in that Black site to publish memoirs telling all the horrors the US had committed in the third countries.

  2. MrK
    March 30, 2018 at 12:54 am

    Putting prisoners in boxes was also practiced by the Vietnamese police and presumably the CIA too. See the diary of, A Vietcong Memoir, by Truong Nhu Tang.

  3. March 28, 2018 at 3:26 pm

    Oh, yeah? Ordo ab chaos? Destroying the evidence is the best way to do it, no doubt!

  4. Greg
    March 27, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    It’s a messy world and Gina Haspel will do an excellent job bringing order to this chaos. Right person, right job, right time.

    • Skip Scott
      March 29, 2018 at 7:11 am

      Have another slug of the Kool-Ade Greg.

      • Zachary Smith
        March 30, 2018 at 4:51 pm

        It’s a little scary how many people are either indifferent to or actually love torture.

  5. Kelli
    March 27, 2018 at 9:03 pm

    This is great. But there is someone else FAR more if not just as dangerous and that is the rabid Zionist, John Bolton. If there could be one Bush war criminal neocon whispering into Trump’s ear, it’s that man. The war with Iran is on.
    With Bolton, Pompeo and Haspel, what we have assembled is war criminal nneocons who hold total power over our government. Trump is not Putin’s puppet. He is Sheldon Adelson and Bibi’s puppet.

    Frightening.

  6. Todd Millions
    March 27, 2018 at 7:13 pm

    Well summed-Given the sourceing,
    I wonder if any report on a (aide?) Haspel at NATO Hq in Bill Clintons first term with Maddy the Knife Albright ,
    Gang nagging the poor generals about delivering the poor Croats and Albanians from evil Serb oppression
    might be recovered?
    And confirmed. CIA ‘cultural attaches’ in State dept Embassies ,were not unknown at the time as you may recall.
    My memory of this report is via CBC (radio) who according to their website are in the process of eliminating their archives.
    Remorse After the Fact is such a ‘Christian ‘ virtue.

  7. March 27, 2018 at 10:45 am

    the problem for Americans is , and they don`t seem to have come to grips with it, is that these depraved people are circulating in American society. They are unknown, and could well be your neighbour, pshcologist, dentist , or GP. They are a ready source of American style Gastapo, Mossad and or Savac They will readily torture Americans or any human being when ordered to do so. In the US the system does not have to be tweeked very much for it to allow tortue in prisons, or by civil police or of the miriad national security agencies in the US. Of course it will be allowed on the basis of National Security. The real terror for Americans is this enemy within.

    • Nancy
      March 27, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      You’re right–they’re walking among us.

  8. March 27, 2018 at 5:10 am

    An ancestor died at the battle of Boulogne in the 16th century. I lost an uncle in the Boer War(you missed that one). I lost 2 uncles in WW1. I lost 3 uncles in WW11 against the Japanese. I lost a cousin against Indonesia in Malaysian war against Indonesia and two other cousins in Vietnam and Korea.

    Can my family stop sacrificing its blood to tyrants, liars and people like Bolton.

  9. Curious
    March 26, 2018 at 9:57 pm

    As much as I agree with, and admire VIPS, it seems a bit odd to send such a letter to a man who ran on a platform by saying he would do much worse than the ‘treatment’ done before, including killing the family members of said ‘terrorist’. My guess is he thinks torture works, but was not done ‘efficiently’ enough.
    If he were to ever read this letter from VIPS (a big “if”) I think most of it would not sink into his vacuous soul and opaque morality.
    He certainly has no interest in International Law, so that argument is an instant no-go. But here’s hope’n.

    • geeyp
      March 27, 2018 at 1:50 am

      One of the VIPS letters influenced President Trump to tell Pompeo to meet with William I will just keep reminding people of this.

    • evelync
      March 27, 2018 at 10:23 am

      On my first read, I agreed with you, Curious – I was shocked to read the respectful tone of the letter. I could not have made this effort to respectfully ask this person in the whitehouse to do the right thing…it did seem bizarre.

      BUT, I am grateful for this initiative and while surprised, I admire the effort because it’s probably the only way for it to have a chance to reach our dear leader’s desk and to get any attention at all. He’s under siege from all sides and is probably quite paranoid right now and he’s probably not capable of taking any of the constant slings and arrows and is probably quite dangerous. A respectful tone might get his attention – I’m not holding my breath on that but maybe this letter will get the attention of some sane people – if there are any left – at our compromised institutions that have gone along silently with all the wrongdoing over so many administrations.
      We’re at the lowest depth possible? right now and it’s of our own making – institutional failure thanks to mass financial corruption and war mongering…We’re close to bottom. Trumps “success” is evidence of this failure….close to the reasons, I think, why Hitler was able to ride the publics’ fear and pain to take power.

      VIPS has risen from the ashes of all the wrong doing, disgusted by the toadies at our “highest” level institutions like JFK School of Government that uninvited Chelsea Manning after pressure from Pompeo –
      VIPS, are the courageous ones who are trying to hold wrongdoers to account….

      I’m hoping the young students who are now courageously fighting back will become allies on the road back if its not too late….

  10. anastasia
    March 26, 2018 at 4:45 pm

    Torture was first used after 911, and in my opinion, it was not to learn any truth, but to get admissions to give to the media in order to back up the stupid story about Arabs with boxcutters. You needed something to back up a stupid story like that.

  11. evelync
    March 26, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Thank you CN for posting this critical step that VIPS has taken to stop the heinous act of putting Ms Haspel where she can commit/allow/endorse more atrocities that help make this country more of a pariah in the eyes of the world and diminish even more the view that some of us have of our own country that would allow such a thing and of ourselves as citizens of this country.

    I know it’s simplistic but
    1. we sided with authoritarian regimes who made an easy path for our multinational oil companies to share the spoils from harvesting fossil fuels with the leaders of those regimes making them both exceedingly wealthy
    2. we deposed/helped to depose democratically elected ME leaders leading to internal oppression
    3. these policies played a role in creating violent (sometimes ruthless/terrorist styled) resistance that we point to to justify more wrongdoing.
    4. our government also uses this dynamic to terrorize us into acquiescing to more of the same
    5. no one with the power to do so has succeeded in holding the wrongdoers at the top of prior administrations accountable or even trying to do it
    6. we’re at a low point where many of us in this country thing that it’s ok to violate the Geneva convention and keep it hidden
    7. how many of our Ivy League Schools are protesting against this state of affairs – against this nomination?
    8. thanks to VIPS for doing the right thing

  12. anastasia
    March 26, 2018 at 4:18 pm

    I am so glad you wrote this, so very glad and grateful to all of you.

  13. Gary Weglarz
    March 26, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    With a significant number of “former” intelligence officials now presented as regular “pundits” on MSM news & opinion shows, and with a large number of this fall’s Democratic Congressional candidates having a background in intelligence, it would appear the goal of the total and complete CIA/MIC control of the nation, which began in ernest with the JFK assassination, is now reaching it’s logical end. One could add to the mix of course the well paid shills of empire like Rachel Maddow and her ilk that totally dominate MSM; as well as of course the literal army of paid government trained idiot-trolls who populate progressive web sites in order to sow discord, mass surveillance, etc., etc. Somewhere deep in the bowels of Hades that “psychopath’s psychopath” Allen Dulles is grinning like the Cheshire Cat, knowing his Nazi recruitment program has provided lasting impacts, technical skills and inspiration for his endgame continuation of Western empire including the total destruction of even the farcical vestiges of American democracy.

  14. FreeSociety
    March 26, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Did this memorandum actually get sent directly to President Trump?

  15. March 26, 2018 at 12:22 pm

    “The U.S. government leads the world in assassinations. No other regime can come close in this remarkable achievement. Every month, there are new assassinations. The process never stops. People are being assassinated on a regular basis by national-security state officials. The assassinations include American citizens. State-sponsored assassinations have become an ordinary part of American governmental life. The U.S. government also leads the world in bombings. Every day, new bombs are dropped on people. We don’t even know how many people are being killed by the bombs. We don’t know who the victims are. It doesn’t really matter….” Jacob G. Hornberger, September 23, 2014
    http://fff.org/2014/09/23/national-security-patriotism-and-treason/

  16. March 26, 2018 at 11:44 am

    Thank you VIPS,
    For such a professional memo to our President, which would go a long way (if implemented) to repairing the damage done to our leading intelligence service regarding the illegality, immorality, ineffective and provocative for its use of torture following 9/11. It perhaps goes without saying that this and our other reactions to 9/11 likely led to the formation of the Al Qaeda derivatives now populating the Middle East and Africa. One could not have done a better job in manufacturing our own enemies if we consciously tried to. Some architects of the future these guys/ladies politicizing intelligence are. Please keep standing up to power with your truths, the country owes you a lot already, and will continue to do so. It gives me confidence just to know you are there!

    • Gregory Herr
      March 26, 2018 at 7:01 pm

      “One could not have done a better job in manufacturing our own enemies if we consciously tried to.”

      “Enemies” is just a word the CIA uses on the outside when referring to “Assets”. Supply lines and cold cash come in handy when you want to manufacture “derivatives”.

  17. Joe Malta
    March 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

    The Special Rapporteur on Counter-terrorism and Human Rights formally stated that Haspel’s torture gulag is a ‘joint enterprise leading to widespread and systematic violations of Article 7.’ Widespread and systematic is the legal threshold for universal-jurisdiction crimes to rise to crimes against humanity. Crimes against humanity impose collective, erga omnes obligations on UN member nations to make the commanders of the criminal regime take responsibility for their crimes.

    Crimes against humanity legally means what Nazis do. Russians don’t like Nazis. When CIA slips up and gets its war with Russia, and Russia employs its superior standoff missile capability to sink the US carrier groups, decapitate US C3, and impose terms, their international tribunal is going to be more fun than a barrel of monkeys. I look forward to watching Gina Haspel’s vermicular lips squirm in the cage at Nuremberg II.

  18. March 26, 2018 at 11:05 am

    For the hypocrites who have no principles of concern other than the principals in their bank accounts, the duopoly has no problem with such a gross practice as torture to bring the great god of “democracy”, their tortured logic. The so-called “progressives” ran their female candidate who crowed about Muammar Qaddafi’s brutal end facilitated by her power, so why not the first female torturer to head CIA?

    If Trump is making these latest “chess” moves with any strategy, including expelling 60 Russian diplomats and closing the Russian embassy in Seattle, the Mad Hatter is having quite a Tea Party! An article at Lew Rockwell says that Marine LePen states the ramp-up of Russophobia is to back down Brexit. Madness prevails among Western governments.

  19. jonald thump
    March 26, 2018 at 11:01 am

    Barry Soetoro claimed he was “real good at killing”. How Nobel of him. How Peaceful is his endless errorism? He’s a lawyer.

  20. March 26, 2018 at 10:13 am

    And we are:
    The Prisoners of “Democracy”
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/07/the-prisoners-of-democracy.html

  21. March 26, 2018 at 10:04 am

    All this malfeasance is connected under the banner of Evil. See link below.
    “The Open Criminality of the Establishment and its Political Puppets”
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/05/the-open-criminality-of-establishment.html

  22. March 26, 2018 at 9:49 am

    The question is:
    “Are We Seeing Government By Gangsters”?
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2018/03/are-we-seeing-government-by-gangsters.html

  23. Jason Becker
    March 26, 2018 at 8:38 am

    My experience with on site torture at fob vulturno (camp fallujah) 03-04 was that it often lead to faulty/spiratical Intel that could not be trusted.

  24. mike k
    March 26, 2018 at 8:28 am

    A good discussion of torture in the comments above. Just remember that the Evil Ones always practice torture, it is their most authentic expression of who they are, and what they intend towards the rest of us.

  25. Known Unknown
    March 26, 2018 at 1:10 am

    As the saying goes: keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. Trumps latest round of firings and hirings seem to follow this principle.

    It is possible that appointing the most rabid neocon regressives imaginable to extremely influential positions is part of a 5D chess match Trump is playing with people he considers enemies. However, it is at least equally likely that he appointed them to their new posts because he believes they will benefit his administration in that capacity. Given what we know about human behavior the latter scenario makes more sense, by far, than a conclusion drawn from a dubious assumption based on a cliche and, I suspect, the desire to escape the discomfort of cognitive dissonance.

    We’ve been here before back in 2009 when it became clear that President Obama and candidate Obama were two different people. To this day he has supporters who believe he was a champion of peace, prosperity and good government and no amount of evidence will change their minds. The same is true of disheartened Trump supporters who can’t face up to their guy being a self-serving liar who is doing the opposite of what he promised during his election campaign.

    • geeyp
      March 26, 2018 at 2:26 am

      Known Unknown- You know, I’ve thought these ideas also and although I despise his choice for National Security Advisor and also Gina Haspel, I keep thinking and hoping as with the last President for a time, that the real deal will see the light of day soon enough. If President Trump doesn’t come through, and Maya doesn’t get us all, perhaps Dennis Kucinich still has a shot at it.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:25 am

      Trump could not beat an average five year old at chess. I agree with Tillerson: he’s a moron.

    • anastasia
      March 26, 2018 at 4:21 pm

      “….5D chess match Trump is playing with people he considers enemies?” Do you really believe this?.

  26. Realist
    March 26, 2018 at 12:43 am

    The American military junta, including its intel agency auxiliaries, which has been the ultimate national authority since Truman birthed the Cold War, gives itself the right to do anything to anybody on the planet without being answerable to the least degree, not to the constitution, not to the American people, not to the world community nor to any of the international organisations, such as the UN, to which the junta professes phony loyalty and common values. Any depravity, any moral outrage, any crime against humanity is permitted as an unquestioned matter of course by these Washington authorities. The sole concern is the total control of the actions of targeted groups and individuals, no matter what laws are broken or how many people, most of whom may be innocent, are killed, maimed or displaced in the process.

    Total spectrum dominance means that the entire rest of the world must be subject to fear and terror by the United States, oft times it seems just for the sake of exerting our will over them. Maybe there’s some psychopathic theory connecting the practice to “peak conditioning,” so the “snap-to” response is always immediate and unquestioning. It’s hard for normal, moral people to relate to such pathological thinking.

    Not only are all American officials immersed deeply in this unholy collusion which gives total immunity to everyone who does what they are told, but the leaders of all Washington’s vassal states are also trained to play ball without question. What else can explain how readily they will screw over their own people and economies in service to Washington’s predacious desires? Of course, Paul Craig Roberts explained the phenomenon quite succinctly long ago. Washington uses both a carrot and a stick with all its “friends.” The carrot is do what you are told and we will personally pay you boatloads of freshly printed 100-dollar bills. The stick is that fate will deal you a cruel misfortune if you fail to deliver for us.

    There are now so many thugs and hardened criminals covering for one another in governments throughout the Western alliance, that it is highly unlikely that anything can really be changed anytime soon. Obomber didn’t dare investigate Dumbya for fear he would himself be the next domino to fall. It’s like the ditty went in Orwell’s novel: “Under the spreading chestnut tree I sold you and you sold me.” Only the sales take place before these criminals even become major public figures. If they faithfully adhere to the code, they will be rewarded with a partnership in the Carlyle group or some other financial plum when their usefulness in government is at an end. Or, did anyone think that election to high office somehow suddenly confers financial genius upon one?

    • Zachary Smith
      March 26, 2018 at 2:03 am

      …since Truman birthed the Cold War…

      Off the top of my head, I’d assign 60% of the blame for that to the Soviets, and the US the other part. At a bare minimum I’d put the ratio at 50:50.

      • Realist
        March 26, 2018 at 6:29 am

        Debatable. The policy of “containment” and the “Truman Doctrine” were formulated before any major confrontations, like the Berlin blockade, took place. But, really, I just mentioned the start of the Cold War as a time reference, not as THE root cause of the transmogrification of the American state, although I don’t doubt it played an important role.

      • Sam F
        March 26, 2018 at 8:42 am

        I generally agree with you both, and will suggest that it was WWII itself that launched the cold war. The mutual suspicions, fear of foreign aggression, and reliance upon military means. The war caused the people of the West to be afraid to disagree with the usual militarist tyrant politicians that there was a dangerous foreign enemy (“communism”), and allowed their counterparts in the USSR to claim that “capitalism” was bloodthirsty and aggressive. Everyone knew that there was a lot of evidence, even if the propositions were essentially false, and knew that it would be dangerous to disagree.

        The fact that they were clearly both right and both wrong all the way, and that this did not lead to diplomacy, shows that politics (at least in the US) was not public debate among conscientious leaders, but a battle among bullies in the ruins of democracy left by unregulated economic power, wherein the mass media and elections no longer belonged to the people.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:23 am

      Brilliant. You really have a clear understanding of reality.

    • Abe
      March 26, 2018 at 9:01 pm

      There lie they, and here lie we.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SU86jzii_Q

  27. incontinent reader
    March 25, 2018 at 11:00 pm

    To elaborate further on VIPS’ reference to General Kimmons:

    “[h]e served as US Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Commanding General, United States Army Intelligence and Security Command[2] and Staff Director, Office of National Intelligence- … [and] was instrumental in the development of Army Field Manual, FM 2-22.3, Human Intelligence Collector Operations (published September, 2006) which was the Army’s response to actions at Abu Ghraib prison (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kimmons)

    The Field Manual can be found at: https://fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm2-22-3.pdf

    Presumably, the Pentagon learned something from the atrocities our interrogators committed at Abu Ghraib- having drafted the Army Field Manual as a response. And, together with the lengthy Senate Intelligence Committee investigation and issuance of its Torture Report, one would have expected our policies to have changed.

    Yet, the advocates of torture have literally gotten away with murder, and still seem to be holding sway, both over the present Administration, and many members of Congress.

    If our country is to change at all, this is a political battle people must get involved in.

  28. Chumpsky
    March 25, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Well, Trump certainly isn’t above the fracas, but is it’s prime instigator. If I knew the method to his madness…

    Haspell isn’t the type who engenders confidence in being able to provide the president with an objective appraisal of world events to aid in his decision-making. She’s a partisan of a rogue agency who’d cover herself and her pal’s asses before reporting anything remotely truthful to the president. She’ll go to any length to tamper with the record from disclosure of her misdeeds and those of her company buddies to the highest office in the country.

    As the saying goes: keep your friends close, but keep your enemies closer. Trumps latest round of firings and hirings seem to follow this principle.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:16 am

      Good point. Since Trump could not beat the CIA, he decided to join them. Ever the devious, cowardly opportunist…..

  29. mike k
    March 25, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    The evil ones always torture because they are sadists. They don’t care what results it produces, they do it because they enjoy making others suffer. The people at the top don’t care, they just indulge the ghouls in their employ who love to do it.

  30. cmp
    March 25, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    I believe that as a society, we are spending some 57% of our budget on the (..non..)Secure State. .. And, with a number this BIG, we know that a certain subset of this population will drink a little too much Kool-Aid. So I wonder, just how many Haspel’s, Secord’s and North’s are we really producing? .. And if we were to bring our dollar number in line with the rest of the world, what would we then, do with them?

    .. But speaking either for today, or tomorrow, certainly we wouldn’t elevate them to the top, and make leader’s out of them. .. Would we?

    It used to be that the Trade Unions had an influence on wages etc., This provided some balance for the returning veterans, etc. Now when I talk to young people, they often tell me they are trying to become either fire or police personnel. And I always tell them how trade unions were one of the counter balance’s in our past society. They usually just look blankly at me. .. For they have not only had no personal experience with this world, but they have also very rarely, have ever heard any of these statements.

    .. But in meantime, their own intuition has brought them to seeking out what is the Public Sector Unions of today..

    ~
    ~ Franklin Delano Roosevelt; June 27th 1936:
    ” It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over Government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction. In its service new mercenaries sought to regiment the people, their labor, and their property. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man. ”

    For the first 79 years, the “despotism wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction”, it had convinced us that “People Is Property.”
    And for the last 155 years, the “despotism wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction”, it has convinced us that “Property Is People.”

    But today in the U.S., it is estimated that the Green Party holds 137 elected seats. .. And mostly, this occurs at the very local level.

    With all of the States combined, there is 7,384 elected State Legislator’s. On average, (33-36)%, or 2,510, of these seats, they are gerrymandered so bad, that they routinely run each cycle, or every 2 years – Unopposed.

    Deep Blue, or Deep Red, how do we allow these all of these seats run with no alternative voices? (.. especially, the Blue Dawgs(?))

    The “minute person” of 2018, (the American People), they show up once every 4 years, and usually vote for the Presidential Candidate that runs on the peace platform. (..check me up on that..) .. And, the American people, they also resoundingly poll – with – the core issues.

    But, if we are waiting for that “impending financial doom”, well remember September 15th 2008, and how that came and went, while it was all neatly “.. wrapped in robes of legal sanction for the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties.”

    The American people, they are getting crushed, while waiting for someone (anyone) to organize.

  31. Zachary Smith
    March 25, 2018 at 6:16 pm

    Trump has no reason to believe his torture girl won’t breeze right through. The extremely lazy Congresscritters are comfortable with their rubber stamp role.

    • March 25, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      You know she worked for Obama right?

      Why isnt she in jail along with the other torture enthusiasts?……Obama gave them legal immunity.Mueller included.

      • Zachary Smith
        March 25, 2018 at 8:12 pm

        I would like to see Obama in the next cell adjacent to George W. Bush.

        • March 25, 2018 at 10:51 pm

          I agree

        • Tannenhouser
          March 26, 2018 at 9:37 am

          Every single member of every single administration since at the very least Ronald.

      • geeyp
        March 26, 2018 at 2:05 am

        Yes, jean. That’s what I say over and over. The cover-up of the crime is part and parcel of the crime. And that’s how they get away with it.

        • March 27, 2018 at 5:00 am

          Agree

  32. March 25, 2018 at 6:04 pm

    The torture, the slaughter and the illegal wars are all connected to the Houses of Power.
    November 24, 2017

    The Slaughter of Millions by “The Good Guys”

    We kill innocent children with drones
    We destroy their families and their homes
    We bomb other countries that never invaded us
    We murder and kill, so why all the fuss?
    We’re the “good guys”…

    [read more at link below]

    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/11/the-slaughter-of-millions-by-good-guys.html

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:13 am

      Excellent poem and informative link Stephen.

  33. March 25, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    Obama gave these criminals legal immunity.Because of that these criminals have continued their crimes and work against the democratic process.

    Brennan now has a cushy job at msnbc while Clapper and Haden are talking heads over at CNN.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:05 am

      Birds of ugly feather stick together.

  34. Joe Tedesky
    March 25, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    I really do appreciate the efforts of the VIP’s, but my faith and hope meter is registering fairly low these days. Can you blame me when I hear politicians ramp up the crowd while stumping for office, getting the citizens whipped up into a frenzy to not only torture the terrorist, but to torture the terrorist families. Then we Americans wonder to why we are a violent society…ssshish.

    Torture doesn’t provide anything, but it sure does get the detainee to say what ever it is their torturer is telling them to say. Torture also sends a message to the enemy that we are badder than you, and we are just plain evil mean to boot. This is war psy-ops on steroids.

    Waiting for the UN to put a stop to the U.S. war criminals is useless.

    Let’s face it to make this VIP letter reach all concerned parties, then a copy must be sent to Sheldon Adelson and Bibi Netanyahu, as if this would help. America now has a President and a Presidential runner up dealing with scandals, and here is where Israel guarantees itself a twofer. No, the Jerusalem capital declarer is now doing what he has been told to do by his Zionist Masters, and soon we will be staying….that’s all she wrote.

    Sorry for the attitude, but this whole mess is tiring to say the least.

  35. March 25, 2018 at 5:16 pm

    Here in 2018 it became necessary for the men and women of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity to advise U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw his nomination of an apparent international criminal, guilty of torture and feloniously destroying the evidence, to a position in the federal government wielding immense power and authority.

    • Zachary Smith
      March 26, 2018 at 1:54 am

      If Obama hadn’t been such a worthless POS we wouldn’t be having this particular discussion, for the Hapel woman would now be doing a very long prison term. Assuming of course she wasn’t executed.

      • mike k
        March 26, 2018 at 8:02 am

        Blame Trump’s decision on Obama? That doesn’t compute.

        • Brad Owen
          March 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

          Is it Trump’s decision? I pretty much conclude that Presidents are outside the loop of control and rule. Pretty much all of elected authority is outside the loop, I think, except for a handful willing to “play ball” with the Deep State. Clinton, W, Obama, Trump, what actual policy changes on the ground do we see??? Even Eisenhower gave a veiled warning that we are on the verge of losing control of our own government, because of The Beast that was wrought by WWII. JFK took the warning to heart. The Beast killed him for it. NOW ask; what is to be done? Sam F sets the right parameters: The Beast is in violation of the Constitution, international law, our genuine national interests, and the will of we the people. I believe a solution is on the horizon however. To say any more is pointless. The moderator has proven that to me.

        • Tannenhouser
          March 26, 2018 at 9:34 am

          Of course it doesn’t compute you are blinded by partisan hate. Try this…..Haspel should be in jail….. obama’s lack of morality is no different than trumps except to those who have hopey changey partisan blinders on.

        • Skip Scott
          March 26, 2018 at 10:10 am

          mike k-

          Trump most likely would not have been elected if Obama had decided to prosecute the torturers. Many people, including myself, voted for Obama in 2008 with just that hope in mind. Obama caved, and became just another war criminal in a long list of war criminal presidents. The impact of his decision to not prosecute cannot be overstated. The entire face of the democratic party would have changed as a result. Instead they have become the corporate sponsored war mongers in column “B”, with the Republicans in column “A”. The rule of law is dead, and citizens supporting peace and justice have nowhere to turn but marginalized third parties.

          • Nancy
            March 26, 2018 at 2:24 pm

            Well said, Skip. It couldn’t be more obvious to me that Obama exposed the farce of our “democracy.”

          • Gregory Herr
            March 26, 2018 at 6:47 pm

            “The impact of his decision to not prosecute cannot be overstated”. Absolutely.

          • robjira
            March 26, 2018 at 9:41 pm

            Bullseye once again, Skip.

  36. March 25, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    A must read article at link below.
    ——————————————————-
    Illegal Wars: The New American Way
    by Maj. Danny Sjursen Posted onMarch 24, 2018
    This article originally appeared at TruthDig.
    https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2018/03/23/illegal-wars-the-new-american-way/

  37. Jeff
    March 25, 2018 at 4:59 pm

    I’m with you. The United States used to be a nation of ideals and laws. When we get to the point where we are arguing about the efficacy of torture and not that it is morally and ethically repugnant, we have lost.

  38. March 25, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    June 25, 2017
    The Heinous Hypocrites and Their Fancy Titles

    There are millions of people dead, millions are refugees, their countries have been destroyed and our ruling hypocrites spout the words “rule of law.” Has there ever been a gang of human reptiles (are they even human?) so evil, dressed in expensive suits and operating out of houses of power called “parliaments” and other houses of ill repute?…
    I believe we need present day Nuremberg Trials:…

    [read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/06/the-heinous-hypocrites-and-their-fancy.html

  39. jose
    March 25, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    According to Majorie Cohn, during the presidential campaign, “Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation.” More to the point, on the ABC program “This Week,” interviewer George Stephanopoulos asked directly, “As president, you would authorize torture?” Trump replied, “I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding. And believe me, it will be effective.” Let us cogitate for a moment; After Trump’s position asserted unambiguously on torture, should anybody be surprise of Gina Haspel for CIA director. I comprehend the true spirit of this missive but If you were appealing to Trump’s constitutional obligations or sense of morality ; I am afraid you are wasting your time. I hope truly to be wrong.

    • March 25, 2018 at 5:58 pm

      Jose: “After Trump’s position asserted unambiguously on torture, should anybody be surprise of Gina Haspel for CIA director. I comprehend the true spirit of this missive but If you were appealing to Trump’s constitutional obligations or sense of morality ; I am afraid you are wasting your time. I hope truly to be wrong.”…ditto, Trump’s concept of morality is whatever suits his own self-aggrandization.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 8:00 am

      Yes. The dirt bag President has the tools he needs now to do his ugly worst.

  40. Sam F
    March 25, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    The argument against torture is excellent. It is a moral argument, of course, but it is not as simple as “torture is wrong” because there are rare cases in which (if it worked) it would prevent much more immoral effects such as the deaths of thousands of soldiers (in a rare military defense situation) or thousands of civilians (in a large terrorism situation).

    Fortunately we know that torture seldom works and often generates false information. We do not know of significant cases where it worked to prevent greater wrongs. So we can conclude that “torture is wrong” except perhaps in some very rare cases which could be decided carefully by a very morally-concerned president.

    But we know that the US has not had such a president in decades, and is involved in aggressive wars of choice that violate the US constitution, international law, US interests, and the will of its people. Under those conditions the rare exceptions are even more unlikely, because most terror incidents and most military operations proceed from US unconstitutional wars. So we are better off banning torture altogether.

    Unlike some others, I retain the argument about rare cases, because persuasion of those who believe in torture requires more detailed argument, showing that the rare case is almost non-existent nowadays, and when it exists, it is at the top of a “slippery slope” leading swiftly and imperceptibly to widespread abuses and domestic tyranny. Torture must be banned, but the argument must be complete.

    • jose
      March 25, 2018 at 3:39 pm

      Dear Sam: you make good points but I think the issue here is Gina Haspel’s record on torture that according to Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity disqualifies her at once. For instance, according to Quartz, March 2013, in 2002, ” she oversaw a secret prison in Thailand that tortured two terrorism suspects. That torture took place within the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which suspected terrorists are sent to US allies, and interrogated in “black sites” on their soil.” Furthermore, she played a leading role (paywall) in running a US torture site abroad and later destroyed the evidence of it.” If confirmed, I can only imagine her raising her right hand to swear to uphold the US constitution with her brutal torturing record drenched in blood. The irony is inescapable.

      • Sam F
        March 25, 2018 at 7:36 pm

        Very ironic; the appointments may be intended as threats, not likely to be a viable diplomatic strategy.

        • Jose
          March 26, 2018 at 10:22 am

          It could be very possible Sam. Only Trump knows the answer behind this nominee.

          • Nancy
            March 26, 2018 at 2:12 pm

            I don’t think Trump actually makes these high-level decisions.

    • Zachary Smith
      March 25, 2018 at 6:20 pm

      Unlike some others, I retain the argument about rare cases…

      Can you describe some of those “rare cases” you can imagine?

      • Sam F
        March 25, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        Yes, briefly so as not to divert, I mentioned rare cases presenting a moral challenge not to use torture:
        1. The allies are about to invade Normandy; we have captured an officer who knows where the Nazis think the invasion will occur; we must know whether invasion plans should be changed to save thousands.
        2. A group is planning to detonate a nuclear weapon in a US city; we have captured one who knows where this will will occur; we must know because evacuation of other cities will cost thousands of lives.

        If the subject won’t say or is thought to be lying, and a few drinks and deceptions, maybe even drugs, has not worked, leaders are forced to make an ugly decision: how much risk to many lives, and how much chance of reducing that risk, should overcome the principle of avoiding torture. Of course if it never works, the decision is easy. We must avoid situations that might force such a decision.

        If our foreign policy were purely defensive, the President would seldom or never be called upon to decide an extreme case, and agencies could not extend that as a policy. But with our present foreign policy, in violation of the US constitution, international law, US interests, and the will of its people, an outright ban on torture poses little risk of wrongdoing. But it may be harder to legislate and enforce under such conditions.

        • Zachary Smith
          March 25, 2018 at 8:16 pm

          1. The allies are about to invade Normandy; we have captured an officer who knows where the Nazis think the invasion will occur; we must know whether invasion plans should be changed to save thousands.

          I assume you meant to say “spy” rather than “officer”. In this particular case the Allies had all the “spies” either in the Double Cross program, jail, or their graves. They knew this to be true because they had been reading the German Enigma messages since early in the war. Changing the plans in a gigantic operation like Overlord isn’t an option anyhow. Either it must continue, or be canceled entirely. Cancellation simply wasn’t going to happen at Normandy except for the physical impossibility of getting there on account of the weather.

          2. A group is planning to detonate a nuclear weapon in a US city; we have captured one who knows where this will will occur; we must know because evacuation of other cities will cost thousands of lives.

          Is it even conceivable such an event would have a “timer” on it long enough to 1) do the torture, and 2) evacuate the city? Consider Oklahoma City:

          On April 19, 1995, McVeigh drove the truck to the front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building just as its offices opened for the day. Before arriving, he stopped to light a two-minute fuse. At 09:02, a large explosion destroyed the north half of the building. It killed 168 people, including nineteen children in the day care center on the second floor, and injured 684 others.

          1993 WTC bombing:

          On Friday, February 26, 1993, Ramzi Yousef and a Jordanian friend, Eyad Ismoil, drove a yellow Ryder van into Lower Manhattan, and pulled into the public parking garage beneath the World Trade Center around noon. They parked on the underground B-2 level. Yousef ignited the 20-foot fuse, and fled. Twelve minutes later, at 12:17:37 p.m., the bomb exploded in the underground garage, generating an estimated pressure of 150,000 psi.

          Perhaps you’ve learned of instances where the timers were set for “days” or “weeks”, but I know of none. Nor can I imagine any reason for the terrorists to consider such a range. I’d imagine if McVeigh had a Hiroshima device he’d have set the timer on it to at least half an hour. Even if he had run into a total traffic shutdown he could have walked far enough to be personally safe.

          In this day and age it seems to be the trend for the mass killer to plan on dying themselves. If the person captured was a North Korean commando, wouldn’t he have a cyanide capsule with him? All the crew members of the Enola Gay sure did! Assume though that the NK guy was somehow caught. How is the torturer going to sort out his lies? At every poke of the icepick (or whatever) he’d scream out a different building. Gina H. directs her crew to pluck out his left eyeball. How Does The Torture Help With A Dedicated Fanatic/Patriot?

          • Sam F
            March 26, 2018 at 8:06 am

            Remember that I am raising these rare cases primarily to allow communication with those who accept a very general rationale for torture, to open discussion by acknowledging the possibility, then severely restricting the cases.

            A surprise defensive invasion (even if not Normandy) would likely be re-planned if detected, as the time scale involved building defense lines, and the bomb case does not require such a short fuse that no response is possible. But if the cases are even more rare, so much the better.

          • Nancy
            March 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm

            Indeed. And in such a case, the person being tortured could very well give false information, if he/she is willing to die anyway.
            Torture is wrong. There’s no sugar coating it.

    • nonsense factory
      March 26, 2018 at 2:40 am

      But torture does work! It’s great for preparing prisoners for show trials, Stalin and Hitler used it thus to great effect. It can often help a despotic regime terrify a captive population into submission to its rule, that’s where this current crop of CIA goons got introduced to it, training Central and South American gestapo units to torture peasants in the name of anti-communism in the 1980s, right?

      Yes torture does work. They just don’t want to spill the beans about the true agenda behind torture, that’s a bit too much of the truth, puts a rather ugly light on the whole image of honorable patriotic service in the CIA, because is that even possible? Like being proud of being a loyal KGB agent under Brezhnev in the Soviet Union. OK sure, you served your masters dutifully. Huzzah.

      • Sam F
        March 26, 2018 at 8:51 am

        Yes, good point. It does even more damage to any cause of truth and justice than to the victims.

      • Curious
        March 27, 2018 at 1:58 am

        Dear no-nonsense Factory,
        I enjoy your contributions immensely and have for awhile, but I wonder if what is said is in jest or some other point is being raised. When your examples reduce the argument to a few individuals who may ‘know something’ and could create havoc on some location, it doesn’t seem to react to the article about torture. In one photo a soldier is carrying a leash and in others dogs were used to create fear. I have met many soldiers and a dog leash was one of the last things ever given to someone outside of the K9s or sniffing groups. It was never part of military issue.
        My larger point is your examples are restricted to single cases and individuals, except point #3. I can’t help but think we are in this mass crises mode, similar to post 911 where everyone is a suspect. The Abu Ghraib prison was built for 50,000 humans and a total I read was the US used it for nearly 9,000. What gain was there from dogs on leashes or piles of naked men doing things they would never do in there lives? To what end? To save America?
        Without belaboring the ethics, the morality, the International Laws, and human consciousness, I’ll just add the entire exercise was wrong, and who out of the 9,000 would you consider valuable enough to share important, valuable information?
        My personal opinion is the US is ill, and sick and part of that illness is because the US has not had a war on its home turf ever (coast to coast) as WW2 in Europe and Russia. We are ill because bloodshed video games are fun, guns are are cool, and to hurt a fellow human being is joyous. We have no proper reference as to the pain, the bloodshed, and the tears many in the world have faced and so we come up with nice little tricks, like paying two psychologists Millions to come up with some torture schemes and let them live their lives in glamour when they should be in prison. What country out of the sick US would even think of doing such a thing after the unbelievable pain of WW2 (which we barely experienced as a country)
        In short, torture belongs in the Middle Ages and the ones doing the torture are probably doing it to the wrong individuals to begin with. Ms Haspel should be hanged at the gallows, very slowly, or at least spend her life being wterboarded for someone’s amusement.

    • mike k
      March 26, 2018 at 7:58 am

      Well reasoned Abe.

    • Sam F
      March 26, 2018 at 8:16 am

      That is exactly my point. The US foreign wars cause the very problems of opposition they are falsely claimed to oppose. They are also violate the Constitution, international law, US interests, and the will of its people. But one has a hard time challenging the right wing on torture without dealing with their special-case rationale, which of course they intend to generalize. The general population is fooled by the special case argument, and goes along on the presumption that it is not abused.

      The whole idea is to show the public how rare the situation is where torture could be justifiable. They do not listen because they are afraid to lay down any weapon of the illusory wars. So unless we acknowledge the special case argument to permit discussion, we continue to lose the argument to the torturers.

    • March 26, 2018 at 7:25 pm

      @ “… it it is not as simple as “torture is wrong” because there are rare cases in which (if it worked) it would prevent much more immoral effects such as the deaths of thousands of soldiers (in a rare military defense situation) or thousands of civilians (in a large terrorism situation).”

      No. Your error is in your assumption that there is ever a right to coerce a prisoner to speak. Both our Fifth Amendment and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment prohibit coerced speech. This is a situation in which society has drawn a bright line and decided that it is always immoral (and illegal) to coerce speech.

      To postulate cases in which torture might be appropriate is but to advocate for that which is immoral and unlawful. Torture can never be right.

  41. Abe
    March 25, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    CIA lawyers cited the “Israel example” in their efforts to justify torture
    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/US-Senate-Report-CIA-used-Israeli-courts-as-precedent-to-justify-torture-384237

    Given Trump’s avowed “1,000 percent” Israel Firster stance, it’s hardly surprising that he nominated Haspel to replace Mike Pompeo at the CIA, or pro-Israel Lobby pitbull John Bolton for National Security Advisor.

    With the staunchly pro-Israel Pompeo ensconced as Secretary of State, and the likes of Haspel and Bolton providing “intelligence” to the White House, Trump will have his pro-Israel warhawk cabinet ready to launch the next phase of U.S. Wars for Israel.

    Whatever political theater occurs during Senate confirmation hearings, it will be carefully crafted to sidestep the critical issues of Israeli influence on American foreign policy and pressing Israeli-Saudi-U.S. war plans for the Middle East.

    • john wilson
      March 26, 2018 at 4:44 am

      Quite right, Abe, these people have been appointed precisely because of who they are and what they stand for. Surely, Satan’s chief hand maiden, Madam Haspel is the ideal appointment for the post of CIA director where she can put to use her experience and skills inflicting misery on others.

    • Abe
      March 26, 2018 at 10:13 am

      The stridently pro-torture position of Trump, who has called for “more than waterboarding”, reflects his stridently pro-Israel posture.

      In fact, from the illegal and arbitrary military “detention” to the military “courts”, the specific “enhanced interrogation” techniques, the array of euphemisms for torture, the absolute impunity granted to torturers, and the illusion that it’s all governed by “rule of law”, the entire U.S. torture regime post-9/11 was imported from Israel.

      The U.S. security establishment embraced the tactics used by Israel to legitimate coercive and abusive interrogation practices that obviously violate human rights. Indeed, the CIA explicitly justified its use of torture in depositions to the Senate Intelligence Committee by citing Israeli High Court of Justice rulings.

      The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) is an Israeli human rights organization specifically dedicated to combating torture, and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and punishment (CIDT)

      The organization has documented the ongoing policy of the Israeli government, which permits systematic use of torture and ill treatment in Israel security services interrogations.

      http://stoptorture.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/%D7%91%D7%9E%D7%A6%D7%97-%D7%9C%D7%90-%D7%A0%D7%97%D7%95%D7%A9%D7%94-%D7%92%D7%A8%D7%A1%D7%94-%D7%91%D7%90%D7%A0%D7%92%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%AAProsecutorial-Indifference.pdf

    • Abe
      March 26, 2018 at 3:07 pm

      On September 6, 2006, George W. Bush announced that fourteen individuals had been in CIA custody as a “high value detainee” and were being transferred to Guantánamo under the custody of the Department of Defense. Bush used Abu Zubaydah and others to justify “alternative procedures”.

      Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in a month and lost an eye during detention at Haspel’s CIA black site in Thailand.

      Videotapes of some of Zubaydah’s interrogations were destroyed by Haspel in 2005.

      It was later revealed that Zubaydah was never a member of al Qaeda, much less a high-ranking official of the terror group. Born in Saudi Arabia, Zubaydah moved to the West Bank as a teenager, where he joined in Palestinian demonstrations against the Israelis. He traveled to Pakistan & Afghanistan in the 1990s.

      In March 2002, Zubaydah was kidnapped in Faisalabad, Pakistan’s third-most-populous city, after a guns-blazing raid, colorfully described in Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals (2008) as “bomb builders disrupted mid-soldering” (page 141).

      Zubaydah was seriously injured in the raid conducted by CIA and FBI agents in conjunction with Pakistani ISI intelligence service forces. Mayer mentions a “CIA source” that later claimed “We paid $10 million” (page 140) to ISI for Zubaydah.

      Mayer’s “vivid” narrative mentions a “former CIA official” who said the Agency “consulted closely with Israel.” (page 145)

      Meyer notes, “The Israeli Supreme Court prohibited torture and other forms of coercive interrogations in 1999 after more-permissive rules resulted in abuse. But a former CIA officer said the lesson derived from Israeli sources was less enlightened: ‘The Israelis taught us that you can put a towel around a guy’s neck and use it like a collar, to propel him headfirst into a wall.’.” (page 145)

      In fact, Israelis directly instructed CIA interrogation teams in the full panoply of Israel’s “enlightened” torture techniques.

      The kinder, gentler Israeli approach to torture was reflected in Haspel’s charmingly feminine comment to Zubaydah during a CIA torture session in 2002: “Good job! I like the way you’re drooling; it adds realism. I’m almost buying it.”

    • rosemerry
      March 26, 2018 at 4:33 pm

      I would be very interested to know what really happened in the “Skripal poisoning” in the UK, as the Russian chemical weapons stock was destroyed last year, and the USA and UK still have such chemicals, plus of course Israel, not inspected or even a signatory to the OPCW and furious as the failure of its policies/interference in Syria. If the chemical is identified, will anyone be willing and brave enough to determine who really produced and used it?

      • March 27, 2018 at 1:58 am

        Rosemerry…. you are off topic, but I was pleased to see your comment, as it’s very relevant RIGHT now. You’re correct as that the Israeli’s are not a signatory to the OPCW…and it’s quite possible that the mossad choir boys ( LOL) did the deed in Salisbury. Nonetheless, the whole thing stinks…especially that the brits won’t let the Russians do any investigations . You know that all of this is the ongoing continued undermining of Russian credibility in the worlds eyes. The constant media news of negative news towards Russia is what propaganda is all about. Shame on US !

      • john wilson
        March 27, 2018 at 5:06 am

        I also add Rosemerry, that the policeman who was supposed to be at deaths door has now left hospital and looked perfectly well to me and will soon be back at work. Further, one of the senior Emergency hospital staff wrote to his local newspaper to say that it was untrue that many people had been affected by this so called poison. There was a member of the public (actually a nurse) who was the first person to touch and handle these two people on the park bench and the ambulance staff obviously had hands on when putting them in the ambulance etc. NONE of these people have been taken ill. This stuff that affected these two people is supposed to be near instantly lethal, yet they walked some distance before they arrived at the park bench. I would suggest this was a planned operation by state actors and was (is) intended to soften up we stupid British people for a planned chemical attack in Syria by the UK and American terrorists there (white helmets?), thus getting public and parliamentary support for an invasion of Syria by the West.

  42. ToivoS
    March 25, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    It is sad that VIPS, for whom I have high respect, find it necessary to begin their argument against torture by pointing out that, at a pragmatic level, torture does not work. If they want to be politically relevant I guess that is where they should begin. If political debate in this country was conducted on a higher moral level why not begin the case by arguing that torture is immoral? But alas, that seems to be a level of debate that is considered irrelevant.

    • Annie
      March 25, 2018 at 3:09 pm

      I agree, it’s immoral and that’s why it’s illegal under US and International law, however we have set ourselves above the law, not only in implementing torture which will only get you what you want to hear, but a prelude, as was the war in Iraq, to set ourselves above the law to further our hegemonic agenda. We couldn’t carry out that agenda without dismantling, or ignoring those laws which were put in place based on issues of morality.

      • Karl
        April 1, 2018 at 3:45 pm

        Annie I agree that torture is immoral and illegal and is a testament to the illegitimacy of governmental bodies that break the laws which prohibit it. But torture is rarely about getting useful information out of people. That has been proven not to work most of the time. What torture is really about is coercion. If you need someone, anyone, to confess to a particular crime that was committed then torture will work to do that. You can get almost anyone to confess if you torture them enough. If you want people to spy on their loved ones and friends or even kill other people, all you have to do is torture them first. Thats why dictators and states that no longer follow the rule of law resort to torture. Its one of the many tools the tyrants use to manipulate the people.

        If a society tortures people and everyone knows that this is a possibility when the secret police show up, then how many do you think will choose not to cooperate? Not many. Torture is a tool of tyrants. Thats why it is illegal in all countries that still abide by the rule of law.

    • nonsense factory
      March 26, 2018 at 2:21 am

      The VIPS seem to be somewhat uncomfortable with what it means for torture to “work”. I suppose they are trying to isolate the topic, to keep it about the ‘reliable information.’ Come on. Outside of their little bubble, anyone who studies torture in the context of 20th century history quickly realizes that’s never been what torture is about.

      In reality, as the torture conducted by the CIA in 2002 and later by CIA-trained contractors in Iraq shows, the real agenda behind torture has NEVER been about recovering useful information. So then, why do they do it?

      (1) To prepare prisoners for show trials, at which they will confess to whatever the perpetrator wants them to. This is obviously done for purposes of public propaganda, to influence public opinion. Stalin-era show trials, the accused always confessed, didn’t they?

      In 2002, the people being tortured were linked to Al Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks, right? What did Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld want? Credible links between 9/11 and Saddam Hussain, to justify an invasion of Iraq. This effort was being developed in parallel with the deliberate program of lies about Iraqi WMD programs, right? So I would guess those torture tapes destroyed by this CIA goon featured lots of “Tell us about Saddam! Tell us about Saddam!” scenes, yes? I can see why they’d want to destroy those.

      Of course, all this torture scewed up the very legimate prosecutorial efforts against the 9/11 planners, which is why they have yet to go to trial, right? They thought they were in Stalinist Russia, or Nazi Germany. Sorry assholes, we’re not there yet! Better luck next time!

      (2) The other common use of torture is in police state prison systems, where the entire population is subject to torture, typically done to suppress popular insurgencies against despotic rule. Egyptian prisons, etc. This is why torture was brought to Abu Ghrain – in a deliberate effort to terrify the population into dropping their support for the joint Sunni-Shia uprising that Paul Bremer’s 100 Orders initiated, in particular the oil privatization scheme.

      If we ever saw a real organized American domestic insurgency against oligarchic plutocratic rule, as we saw in 1776 with the rebellion against the British Crown, I’m sure these torture tactics would be unleashed domestically as well – and didn’t quite a bit of that go on back in the late 1960s, and still seems to be rather common in poor communities, in the world’s largest prison population, no matter how you look at it?

      So, I don’t know, this current CIA goon or some other CIA goon, you can’t believe a word any of them say, they call themselves patriots but to me they just look like a bunch of cheap thugs turning tricks for their masters. That’s 95% of it, at least. Even on legitimate issues, like tracking WMD traffiking, they role over and lie as needed, about the Israeli nuclear weapons, about the Pakistani program when Afghanistan was deemed more important.

      Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity? Sounds like an oxymoron, I’m afraid. You dogs all need tighter leashes, you’re all just dying to go fascist or communist, Hannah Arendt warned us about you – in on the Origins of Totalitarianism. Obsession with secret power, right? If there is some secret cult that runs the world, well, sign me up!

      Ye gods, what a world.

      • mike k
        March 26, 2018 at 7:55 am

        Excellent points nonsense factory.

      • Nancy
        March 26, 2018 at 2:10 pm

        Yes. The problem with VIPS is that they all still seem to believe that the U.S. is a moral nation that has been hijacked by a few bad actors. This is understandable, I guess, because they have all been employed at some point by that nation. Unfortunately, this is the way the U.S. operates regardless of whether it is Trump, Obama or good old Ronald Reagan at the helm.

    • EarlyHyacinth
      March 26, 2018 at 10:35 am

      This letter is addressed to the POTUS, not exactly well-known for deep moral reflection, who is a firm supporter of torture. I think VIPS started with “pragmatic” reasons for rejecting torture because those who support torture tend to be immune to arguments based on morality.

    • Ol' Hippy
      March 26, 2018 at 11:46 am

      Immoral? Most of the actions of the US government are immoral, at least the illegal wars and subsequent immoral and ethical precepts that get tossed out the window with the proverbial clock and bathwater. Lying to the American people is immoral, lies used to justify illegal aggression overseas. Yeah, immorality goes hand in hand with US foreign policy.

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